You may or may not have heard of Fate/Grand Order (FGO), but the Japanese mobile game phenomenon grossed over $4 billion at the end of 2019 making it the eighth highest-grossing mobile game.
This gacha game is just one of many others like Genshin Impact and Dragon Ball Z: Dokkan Battle that continue to captivate millions of players on a daily basis.
Gacha games have been around since 2010 and are usually the top-grossing mobile games in Japan. These games are free to play where the gacha, a lottery-like system of acquiring invaluable assets such as unique characters or materials, have been likened to playing on online betting sites.
But to dismiss these games as simply being popular because they “hook” their players with its gacha system is hasty and narrow-minded. Instead, let’s examine why gacha games like FGO are increasingly becoming more popular.
“Fate/Grand Order(FGO)” by Aniplex is licensed under CC BY 3.0
1. Captivating Characters
Characters are what make or break most RPG’s and this is doubly true for gacha games like FGO. It’s a simple concept that’s genius: players are masters who summon servants who fight for them. These servants are based on mythological or historical figures.
Players can summon popular heroes like Heracles and King Arthur or characters from real human history like Nero Claudius and William Shakespeare – with a bizarre anime-twist that genderbends many of them or portrays them in a totally unconventional yet entertaining fashion.
These characters will interact with the player through combat, offbeat dialogue, and various events like Valentine’s Day and your own birthday. For some of them, you can purchase outfits.
These colourful characters are the stars of the game and players love gacha games like FGO mainly for this reason.
2. Engrossing Story Supported By Elaborate Worldbuilding
Although the characters are the main attraction, they’re a product of the carefully crafted story filled with encyclopedic levels of worldbuilding.
The world FGO takes place in a somewhat futuristic world in which humanity, as represented by the Chaldea organization, must rectify its history after being altered by powerful forces.
Players wade through both historical and mythological places like Camelot, Babylonia, and the Roman Empire.
Other gacha games like Tales of Crestoria and Granblue Fantasy have full-blown fantasy worlds in the mold of console RPG’s. Although they’re mobile games and have gacha as a selling point, the story is still a focal point of the game.
3. Easy to Play Yet Complex
As with many mobile games, FGO and other gacha games are quick and easy to get into. The basic gameplay mechanics are like a simple RPG: it’s a turn-based battle system where players enhance their characters through a farming system.
Even non-RPG gacha games like Dokkan Battle and Arknights have gameplay that is easy to set up and understand. Yet despite the accessibility of these games, the gameplay is more complex and come with its share of nuances.
Simply throwing money at the game and acquiring the best characters and/or equipment isn’t guaranteed to lead to victory.
Games like FGO were designed so even free-to-play players (players who do not spend real money on the game) can beat the content with even the lowest caliber servants using careful planning and strategizing.
“Fate/Grand Order(FGO gameplay)” by Aniplex is licensed under CC BY 3.0
4. Rich Selection of Ongoing Content
What keeps many players passionate about gacha games is the ongoing content available. Many of these contents known as “events” are limited-time gameplay additions that provide new stories, servants, and materials for the player to access.
As opposed to a traditional game players purchase, gacha games like FGO have a near-limitless playability. There is new content on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis.
And as the game keeps going, more developments occur within the world’s story. More characters are revealed, new wrinkles to its lore are explored, and gameplay is tweaked and improved with help from players’ feedbacks.
5. The Thrill of Beating the Gacha Odds
Let’s not shy around the main reason why gacha games are bewitching: beating the gacha odds. Yes, it does share a similarity in winning at a slot machine or roulette table, but the payout here is better than cash.
Players are rewarded with a character or material that would enrich their gaming experience. Also, players need not spend money to acquire these assets. They can accumulate in-game currency (Saint Quartz in FGO) required to summon.
It isn’t entirely based on luck although that is a major factor. And it isn’t a “pay to win” structure (though some gacha games resemble this). Having to save pushes players to pick and choose how to spend their in-game currency.
And the euphoria or bitterness of acquiring or not acquiring a character you’ve built months or even years of patience for is the type of emotional high non-gacha games just cannot compete with.
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