Zero Zenless Zone, Tower of Fantasy And When Gacha Gets Cannibalistic

Zero Zenless Zone, Tower of Fantasy And When Gacha Gets Cannibalistic

We’re about to find two potentially huge new games from Chinese developers following the success of Genshin Impact, which has generated billions in revenue since its release.

One is from the developer of Genshin Hoyoverse, Zenless Zone Zero, and one is from Perfect World, Tower of Fantasy, a new MMORPG.

I was playing Tower of Fantasy, and sure enough, maybe 15 minutes into the game, you’re into his gacha system, one where you’re pulling for rare powerful weapons and attached skins to use. Zenless Zone Zero will also have a character roster based on gacha, and of course, gacha is the reason Genshin Impact made so much money in the first place. You’re not just paying for power, you’re gambling for it.

Gacha creates an interesting problem, however, if you’re into these games, and it’s something I haven’t really experienced with other games in the same way. With most live service games, the issue is timing. As it is, I can’t keep up with all the new developments of Fate, Outriders, Avengers, Division and Wonderlands at the same time. But if I wanted to stay current? Spending $10 on a new season or $20-40 for an expansion isn’t the end of the world.

But gacha? That is different. While Genshin Impact does a good job of giving players a lot of freedom to basically play the entire game without spending money, they fairly good job creating attractive characters and weapons like that you wanting spend money. And I spend money.

Now, this has created a strange situation where I feel so invested in Genshin Impact, that I’m turned off from these other games in the same genre, because I don’t want / can’t afford to start a “collection” of gacha from beginning to end. It’s hard to invest in Tower of Fantasy or Zenless Zone Zero instead of continuing with Genshin as they keep adding new content and regions.

In the case of Hoyoverse, this becomes extreme cannibalism. It’s easy to see how a situation where a player might be interested in both ZZZ and Genshin, but not in the budget for both, plays out. So they spend less on Genshin or don’t bother with ZZZ in the first place.

In the case of Perfect World, if you’ve created your entire monetary system to represent a competitor, you’d better deliver a product that’s stronger than that competitor. It’s not a traditional game where you have to convince a player to spend $60 on a boxed copy, Tower of Fantasy has to deal with trying to convince Genshin players who have spent dozens, hundreds or even thousands of dollars within that ecosystem withdraw, and tell them they’ll have to start over, or stick to perma-f2p.

The thing about gacha is… it works. There is so much revenue on the table here with this model, which some consider predatory, that perhaps these sacrifices are okay. Hoyoverse does not care where you spend, as long as you spend somewhere with them. And even if Tower of Fantasy makes 20% of Genshin’s draw, that’s still huge.

Still, I wonder about the long-term sustainability of gacha. If this becomes an increasingly popular revenue path, I don’t care about the genre eating itself because it’s not sustainable for the player. Or it’s an instant turn off before the game even starts, aka, I’m not that interesting in Tower of Fantasy as it’s a gacha, and Genshin taught me how many sinks can be. This also seems to be something aimed at possible regulation, now that “loot boxes” are doomed in many places. It’s the same concept, but honestly, even worse in many ways.

There are certainly some things West v. the East here, because gacha is much more popular and popular in Asia, and it’s just starting to take off in the west with games like this, but I definitely want to keep an eye on it, and see how this is sustainable over the large arc of the trend.

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