As expected, Japan has formalized a complete ban on “complete gacha” in social games.
“Complete gacha” is – or was – a popular social gaming mechanic in Japan, in which players must complete a set of items drawn from a randomly occurring pool in order to earn another, more powerful item. Think of it as having to collect six blue gumballs from a giant gumball machine, so you can trade them in for an Uzi. The trouble is that every gumball costs a nickel, but the kids in Japan really want that Uzi, and they’re spending huge amounts of money to get it – hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars a month.
The situation got bad enough that the Japanese government felt the need to get involved by declaring the mechanic illegal. Effective July 1, any game maker who employs “complete gacha” will face unspecified penalties. Details will be announced by Japan’s Consumer Affairs Agency later today.
Most of the big players in the Japanese industry saw the ban coming and had already stopped using “complete gacha” voluntarily, but that didn’t spare them the pain of losing access to one of their most reliable money-making mechanics. Both Gree and DeNA dropped 20 percent of their share value earlier this month, while Konami and Namco Bandai suffered less-precipitous but still dramatic losses of their own.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a ban on a specific game mechanic before and it strikes me as a rather extreme response to a situation that could’ve been remedied with less drastic and economically punitive measures, like monthly spending caps. But hey – at least we still have bullet time.