The Transition of Gacha Games to Consoles
Over the past few years, I’ve watched as gacha games have grown more and more popular over in the West. From Western companies implementing gacha-game-like aspects (ie. lootboxes) to Eastern gacha mobile games being published for Western audiences, this genre and its influences have grown rapidly. It is safe to say that, for better or worse, the genre is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
Original Console Games Based on Gacha IPs
Surprisingly, we are starting to see steps towards bringing these games to consoles – or perhaps the more accurate statement would be that “we are seeing more of these games become localized.” While this is something that I never really thought would happen, it does make sense. Why limit your audience to just mobile users, and in rare cases PC players, when you have a whole other audience that to reach? And with the Switch being mobile, the connection is even less outrageous. Gacha games became popular due to the ease of being able to pick up and play the game wherever and whenever (and also because of the gambling aspect).
But we’re not just seeing gacha games being ported to consoles, we’re also seeing gacha IPs being made into original console games. Take Seven Knights Time Wanderer, Granblue Versus, and Azur Lane Crosswave, for example. All of these were gacha games first and foremost, and now have console games of their own. And speaking honestly, I like this development. There are quite a few gacha game IPs that have a good premise and that I think would do well if given the chance to expand past their innate restraints.
The main issue that crops up, that has been shown with Seven Knights Time Wanderer, is that the cast for gacha games tends to be obscenely large. Since you want to encourage people to pull in the gacha, more characters have to be created to appeal to a wide audience. Just look at Granblue Fantasy’s entire character roster! While some games do have a clear set of main protagonists, other games aren’t as clear. On top of that, it is quite easy to push away newcomers if they feel they need prior understanding of the source material that they won’t get with a new console game.
The other issue is that, in all honesty, gacha games and console games are two different beasts. You can’t really take a gacha game IP and just bring it over without it feeling shallow, at least not without some effort. While not too much of a problem for fans of gacha games already, it can turn off newcomers who don’t like that mobile game “vibe.”
Gacha Games Developed With Consoles in Mind
With the release of Genshin Impact last year, excitement for the game coming to Switch has been fairly high. As one of the more ambitious gacha games, it makes sense that a game of such a scale would fit better on console and PC than on mobile. And that does bring forth another possibility with gacha games: having gacha games made with consoles in mind.
While there is a vocal portion of people who despise anything related to gacha games, it has been shown that there is an audience for these games. The revenue brought in from the game surpassed $400 million in its first two months. Of course, that number is not expected to remain so high after the honeymoon phase ends, but I would expect a small spike if/when Genshin Impact makes its way to the Switch. This has shown that people are at least interested in more ambitious gacha games, and it would be nice to see more variety.
Now, I don’t believe companies will abandon mobile devices. With most people having a mobile device, it would be ridiculous to abandon that audience for the smaller console and PC audience. However, it does make me wonder if the revenue figures of Genshin Impact will encourage more developers to be more ambitious with their games outside of generic RPG battle mechanics or unit-raising games.
Personally, I want companies to take a step towards making their gacha IPs into full-fledged console games rather than just porting or creating gacha games specifically for consoles. I think that it’s cool that these games are already being created and, even more so, that they are getting localized for Western audiences. I could go on all day about how gacha games have affected people and how dangerous the genre is in general. So, diverting to console games, or perhaps toeing the line between a console and mobile experience, is a cool alternative that I’m watching develop more and more.
What’s fascinating is that one of the obvious things many people harped on with the release of Genshin Impact is that it was a Breath of the Wild clone, but in reality, it was doing so much more in the area you’re talking about here: it was bringing a gacha philosophy and marrying it to a console-level experience with expansive open world. It wasn’t trying to be the next BOTW–it was trying to be the evolution of this gacha genre. And I believe it succeeded at that. What released as an accused BOTW clone will soon spawn Genshin Impact clones… Read more »
Yeah, it’s really interesting watching the gacha side of gaming develop, because it’s even worse about copying aspects than console games in general. One game does something slightly different and suddenly it feels like there are 10 copycats announced.
I’d like to think we’ll get more original console games without the gacha aspect, but I’m not sure if Genshin’s success is really going to change anything outside of breeding more copycat games, like you mentioned.