This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m back with a follow-up to last week’s post. It’s all about why Gacha Games Aren’t Evil!
Gacha?: In these games, there are usually numerous characters, cards, or other items that players can obtain, and most of them are only obtainable via the “gacha” mechanism. The “gacha” mechanism would allow players to “spin” the gacha using a specific amount of in-game currency, which would give player a randomized character or item. Sometimes, these gacha would be limited, such that those characters and items can only be obtained within a specific event time frame. Because some of these items or characters would be given less chance to appear, typically players would need to spin the gacha many times before they can get the most desired outcome.
Isn’t that just the same thing as Loot Boxes in last week’s post?: Well let me make a distinction, what I think of as a proper “Gacha Game” doesn’t actually include all the games that utilize the Gacha mechanic. Many are pretty popular in Japan and the more successful ones are ones that don’t include a PvP component. This removes the need to get the highest tier characters to do well against players who will spend loads of money on the game. They are often called Whales because they are essentially just like the Vegas equivalent. Games like Battlefront II included loot boxes that had actual gameplay advantages like getting Heroes which offer a significant power boost over the regular player. That goes into the Pay to Win category, and should never be put into any game. The fact that EA thought they could get away with doing something so monumentally sleazy is just further proof that they are run by greedy jerks.
What’s a good example?: Fate/Grand Order is a perfect example of a proper Gacha Game. The game is highly popular in Japan and while you are highly encouraged to re-roll an account to get a desired rare servant like Artoria from the Stay Night sub-franchise, this isn’t absolutely necessary to succeed in the game. Although it will help you out greatly if you aim for a top tier servant like Jeanne D’Arc or Waver Velvet who were Servants available at launch. I enjoy playing Fate/Grand Order quite a bit, mostly because the story is excellent. I ended up re-rolling about a hundred times to get a Jeanne for myself. That single character has probably saved my butt more times than I can count. I consider the time I spent re-doing the intro over and over again well worth it since I got a top tier Servant that will last me the entire game’s life no matter what comes along in the future.
And before people ask whether I’m a “Whale” let me answer you. No, I don’t have anywhere near the amount of spending money needed to do that sort of thing. If I had the money to do so would I? Maybe, the story of Fate/Grand Order is quite good, and I’d love to make a top tier team with my Jeanne as a highlight. The game earns tons of money because people want their favorite characters and people end up sketching or creating various things to “summon” their desired servants as a weird form of superstition. Sometimes it works for them, other’s not so much.
That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday, next week I’ll go back to my favorite topic for this column, bashing Destiny!
P.S.: For those wondering how my luck is in Fate/Grand Order, It’s definitely E Rank or lower. RNGs and I have always had a poor relationship. That might end up being a topic for a later column.
This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m answering a question I’ve been asked recently. Loot Boxes Are Evil?
Loot Boxes?: A term used to describe a virtual item that could be likened to a booster pack for a trading card game. However since this is a virtual item and made purely of code you can’t really trade the items gained from a Loot Box to someone else for money or other goods. You won’t see people on Ebay selling Overwatch Loot Box contents like you would with rare trading cards from something like Magic: The Gathering.
Evil?: Well recently people have been in an uproar over the stunt EA pulled with the recently released Battlefront II monetization plan which was in lieu of paying for DLC. You had to either spend ridiculously long amounts of time to unlock heroes like Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader, or spend real cash to get a chance at earning them. Frankly I hate EA, I will never ever respect them as a publisher because of the practices they use like this Loot Box debacle, or yearly game releases of series like Madden. This last one is really unnecessary, just add the new atheletes that get drafted that year into the game with DLC for god’s sake.
So EA is at fault?: Pretty much, there is a bit of blame to be laid at the feet of the developers at DICE for going along with their plan for microtransactions, but at the end of the day they are working for EA to produce a game. EA has frequently been named America’s most hated company for a reason, beating out banks and telecom companies like Comcast or Time Warner. They tend to use sleazy means to get people to spend more money on their products.
So why all the uproar?: Well for one it was a Pay to Win situation, where if you spent the money to buy the heroes you had a serious advantage against other players, or at least that is how I understand the issue. I very well may be wrong on this, however as some really cool politician (and I can’t believe I’m putting those two words together in writing) from Hawaii said, EA is playing off kid’s desire to be heroes from Star Wars in a game and milking them and their parents to gamble away their money. It’s a sleazeball practice and frankly really needs to stop. Cosmetic items like Overwatches skins in their loot boxes are one thing, but getting gameplay changes like the ones in Battlefront II is unacceptable.
What about Gacha Games?: That is a topic for another day, which I’ll cover in the very near future. However there are some differences and those are pretty important. Will those differences hold out against the weight of public sentiment? I’m as clueless as the rest of you, personally I doubt they’ll get nearly as much recognition.
That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday! What are your thoughts on the topic? Leave a comment below!
This week for Retro Game Friday I’m covering one of the first games for the iPhone! It’s Infinity Blade!
Plot Synopsis: The game follows a cyclical narrative structure in which the player-character and his descendants individually explore a castle in a quest to battle the primary antagonist, the immortal God King. In the game’s introduction, the player-character has just finished this quest, but is slain by the God King. The player then assumes the role of the dead character’s descendant as he starts his own journey at the beginning of the castle.
Plot: The plot isn’t amazing, in fact it’s pretty much a gameplay device, but hey at least it has a plot! Sort of.
Gameplay: As a touchscreen game I don’t really enjoy the game all that much, but it was a lot easier to control than most touch screen games. However the difficulty in progressing after failing multiple times was daunting and it definitely wasn’t conducive to new gamers. That being said people who enjoyed Dark Souls like games will enjoy the difficulty scaling. One bad thing however is that this was definitely made during the days of Pay to Win being a business model, and you could spend tons of dollars getting godly equipment to break the game.
Art: The art is okay, but it’s definitely aged.
Music: Don’t remember much, as I played it on the bus on my way home from college so I rarely if ever had the music on.
Overall: If you’ve never played the game, feel free to give it a download if you have an iPhone, but it’s not necessary unless you’re a bit of a masochist.
For those who like: Punishing Difficulty, Pay to Win, Cyclical Plots.
This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m covering a topic that can really bug me sometimes. It’s Free to Play games!
What is Free to Play?: Free-to-play (F2P) refers to video games which give players access to a significant portion of their content without paying.
What’s so bad about something being free?: I’ve got no problem with a game being free, in fact I laud a company that can make a good game that is free to play. Hearthstone is a great example of a properly done F2P game. However so many other games out there take advantage of the consumer, you, by having incredibly intrusive advertising and constant prompts to buy the game or features that will let you beat it easier. I don’t like having advertising forced on me, in fact I hate it with a passion, and paying to beat a game that is supposed to be free is incredibly unethical. Some games out there are impossible to beat without cheating, it’s not very common, but I find them to be the lowest type of scam and despise anyone who makes such a game. A game is meant to be played for fun, not to frustrate you so much that you end up buying something to beat it because it’s impossible to accomplish for 99.99% of the human population.
Candy Crush is a perfect example of a game that I hate, I can understand if you locked some game modes behind a paywall. Go for it, that’s a reasonable thing to sell. But selling something to allow you to continue playing the already free game modes is incredibly messed up. It scams more ignorant consumers and is to me an incredibly shady sort of business.
Any good suggestions on well made F2P games?: MOBAs are a good example with League of Legends being an incredibly well made F2P game. Hearthstone like I mentioned above is another one. There are F2P games out there that aren’t scams, but you need to be careful and choose wisely.