Are Gacha systems loot boxes? (Wiki-focused)

Avatar image for imhungry
imhungry

1552

Forum Posts

1315

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 3

User Lists: 3

Poll Are Gacha systems loot boxes? (Wiki-focused) (42 votes)

Yes 90%
No 10%

Wiki-focused question here. I'm currently writing a page for a game with gacha mechanics in it and as I was linking the page to the gacha concept I had this question pop up in my mind. If you read this Gacha concept page, it's currently differentiated from Loot Boxes due to their rewards being gameplay relevant, even gameplay-required in some cases, rather than purely cosmetic as tends to be the case for loot boxes.

I generally agree with this distinction but the most recent trends in loot boxes have begun to blur this line a bit to the point where I'm not sure this is the most relevant distinction any longer (see: Shadow of War, Battlefront 2, NFS Payback). The EA Ultimate Team stuff is basically exactly what a gacha mechanic is but it's currently listed on the loot box page rather than here so there's obviously some contention.

Personally, I still have a feeling in my gut there's something that differentiates the two beyond this but I haven't been able to fully form the thought or distinction yet.

Interested to hear your thoughts.

 • 
Avatar image for babychoochoo
BabyChooChoo

7106

Forum Posts

2094

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 2

#1  Edited By BabyChooChoo

I would say so. Loot boxes are a specific form of gacha in my mind. No matter which way you slice it, it's all about game-ifying purchases and trying to maximize profits at the end of the day. I mean why directly sell something for a flat price when you can sell the chance to get that thing and make exponentially more than you would have otherwise?

I don't see why being relevant to gameplay should matter, but that's just my opinion.

Avatar image for mvhvtmv
MVHVTMV

467

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Gacha and Loot Boxes are just two different names for the same thing. They're both blind-boxes of some variety, whether or not the rewards are gameplay focused or not is irrelevant, just that you put in money, and get a randomised reward.

Avatar image for jjweatherman
JJWeatherman

15118

Forum Posts

5249

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 10

User Lists: 16

@mvhvtmv said:

Gacha and Loot Boxes are just two different names for the same thing. They're both blind-boxes of some variety, whether or not the rewards are gameplay focused or not is irrelevant, just that you put in money, and get a randomised reward.

But I feel like in most cases (Overwatch is a good example) loot boxes don't actually cost money unless you choose to buy additional boxes. I'm not overly familiar with the whole "gacha" thing, but that seems to be a more micro-transaction exclusive model. Maybe that's the difference?

Avatar image for mvhvtmv
MVHVTMV

467

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@jjweatherman said:

@mvhvtmv said:

Gacha and Loot Boxes are just two different names for the same thing. They're both blind-boxes of some variety, whether or not the rewards are gameplay focused or not is irrelevant, just that you put in money, and get a randomised reward.

But I feel like in most cases (Overwatch is a good example) loot boxes don't actually cost money unless you choose to buy additional boxes. I'm not overly familiar with the whole "gacha" thing, but that seems to be a more micro-transaction exclusive model. Maybe that's the difference?

I get where you're coming from, and yeah it's obviously worth noting the difference between real money and purely in-game blind-boxes, but I don't think these terms really indicate notably different things. I'd say that the distinction is pretty much based on your cultural reference point, i.e. "loot box" is just a westernised term that came about because it doesn't require you to know about Japanese gashapon to get the idea. You see a lot of games that explicitly replicate the idea of a capsule toy machine, but don't make you put in real money, and you also see plenty of games that have boxes-with-loot that have important effects that you have to pay for, etc.

Avatar image for imhungry
imhungry

1552

Forum Posts

1315

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 3

User Lists: 3

So I've put a bit more thought into this and I think I better understand the distinction the Gacha wiki page is making, basically that gacha systems are the manner in which you gain access to core gameplay systems in games that have them as opposed to loot boxes, even gameplay relevant ones as in Shadow of War, where the loot boxes are supplementary (ie. you can gain orcs via normal gameplay but also through blind boxes).

I felt pretty good about this distinction until I looked at the current Loot Boxes page again and saw that card packs are lumped into that page as an alias and a subset and card packs are basically exactly the same as gacha systems in my mind. So basically I think I"m now at a place where I think gacha systems should probably be rolled into the loot box page, at least for what that loot boxes page currently is.

@generic_username I think you wrote the bulk of this gacha systems article if I'm not wrong, would be curious to hear your thoughts on the distinction between the two.

Avatar image for generic_username
generic_username

943

Forum Posts

1494

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 7

According to the edit history, I wrote that page in September of last year, which is right around when loot boxes started getting seriously discussed on major gaming sites (at least, that's my memory of the situation; maybe the discussions started earlier, but I wasn't paying attention to them yet) and also a little while before more mainstream outlets started covering the subject.

At this point, I am of the same sentiment as most everyone on this thread: they're functionally the same thing. For me, the distinction is one of presentation; games with "gacha systems" present their slot machines more like traditional Japanese capsule machines, while games with "loot boxes" present their slots like treasure chests. But that aesthetic difference is pretty much the only distinction between them now.

The pages probably should get combined. While they were things with different meanings at one point, that isn't true anymore.

My only worry about eliminating this distinction from our vocabulary (and/or wiki) is that the long and storied history of Japanese mobile games using predatory monetization tactics would end up buried under the more recent history of Western games fucking up loot boxes. Game developers have been preying on people's vulnerabilities with "it's not gambling because you're not trying to win real money"-style mechanics way, way before Shadow of Mordor (Shadow of War? What did they call it?) or Overwatch.

The massive (seriously massive) success of Puzzle and Dragons in Japan is very likely one of the reasons loot boxes became a thing at all, even though PAD has been making fistfuls of money for years and years and the loot box thing is only really blowing up now. The skill with which they manipulated their player base into spending exorbitant sums of money on their game, even with no promise of a reward... it's frightening. So frightening, in fact, there were actual laws made in Japan that forced PAD to tweak their game in an attempt to make it less predatory. (They found some loopholes and are still very successful, but that's a digression.)

We may not have felt the impact of gacha games nearly as much in the west, but they were hugely impactful in other parts of the world, maintaining massive playerbases and making disgusting amounts of money. The gacha is (was?) a cultural phenomenon in Japan, on the level that something like Pokemon Go was in America. It was a really big deal. There's no justification for distinguishing them from loot boxes anymore, but when people talk about the problems with loot boxes, Puzzle & Dragons and Fire Emblem Heroes don't really enter those discussions. Battlefront and Overwatch and Hearthstone do.

Recent trends in Western game monetization have made the mechanics functionally identical at this point, so yes, they are the same thing. But when you hear someone say "loot box", different games and different news stories come to mind than when you hear someone mention gacha games. I'm all for combining the pages, I just don't want the years and years of predatory monetization schemes utilized by Japanese mobile games to be ignored, because the term "loot box" is mostly evocative of the relatively recent attempts by Western publishers to ruin video games. It doesn't immediately bring to mind the literal thousands of dollars I have spent on gacha games over the last 5+ years that I could've spent on literally anything else and been better off; it doesn't evoke the years and years Japanese mobile developers have been ruining video games in exactly the same way.

In my heart, I want to keep them separate because I have more fun playing the gacha than I do opening loot boxes (even though I actually hate the gacha system enough that I've written multiple blog posts mentioning how toxic it is.) In my brain, though, I know that's ridiculous and that the two terms mean exactly the same thing. I voted "yes" in the poll, too, after all.

If the pages get combined, and I think they should, there should definitely be a section that brings up the rise of gacha games and their influence on the modern loot box, along with what used to distinguish the two from each other. There's a long history of companies preying on people's addictive tendencies through these manipulative mechanics, and I don't want to see it buried and forgotten because the "loot box" discourse is so focused on the more recent (and clunkier) Western implementation of the same predatory practices. Japanese companies have been bringing me financial ruin with their "loot boxes" since I bought my very first smartphone; Overwatch has nothing on Puzzle and Dragons.

tl;dr: Yes, they're the same. But I worry that the years of history of gacha games being awful will be lost if the terms are consolidated, because the term "loot box" is generally used more in discussions of recent triple-A games. I want to hold those mobile games accountable for their years of doing this awful shit.

But yeah, probably combine the pages.

This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.