Here in the west (US and Europe mostly) the games that dominate the F2P genre are:
- Bejeweled clones (candy crush)
- .io games (and other fads)
- idle games
- and finally clash of clans style RTS/basebuilding games.
What makes Clash of Clans style games popular? Personally I'd say its the progression, you go from having a small town with few resources and soldiers, to a big city with a lot more troops and stuff. This is the power fantasy that makes these games addicting. Its why these games have dominated the F2P mobile market since the iPhone 4 or even earlier.
But in the east (China, Korea, Japan) the F2P market is dominated by Gacha games. These are games based on the popular gacha capsule toy machines. Essentially, you pay some money and get a random toy, hoping its the one you wanted or needed to finish a collection. The excitement comes both from the appeal of the figures and from trying your luck.
In F2P mobile games they implement this by having character based games (often turn based strategy) where you progress by getting better characters by paying for a chance at a random character, sort of like what we call loot boxes in games like LoL or Overwatch. Again there is excitement from the design of the characters (often either brand name characters like pokemons or marvel heroes, or lewd characters), from getting to complete a collection, or finally also from the new gameplay opportunities. New characters can be stronger or play different.
Now just before you get confused, yes this is a lot like loot boxes. But where loot boxes often confine themselves as purely cosmetic or just a small boost, gacha games have this game of chance as the main progression format.
These Gacha games have been slowly making their way west, firstly in the form of the games getting western releases and translations, but also from western devs and publishers making them. Right now we have the very popular Raid Shadow Legends, Marvel Strike Force, and other franchises like Assassins Creed making gacha games based on their IP. Racing games are also using these systems more and more for their progression.
So the question is, are gacha games more fun than base building games? personally I kind of think so. Progression via characters seem a lot more fun than progression via just upgrading and waiting. I admit I had fun playing Clash of Clans when it was at its peak (5 years ago?), but these days I couldn't imagine installing another one of those "tap and wait" games.
It should also be mentioned that there is a lot of genre mixing. A lot of western games have implemented gacha mechanics so the lines are getting blurred. I would say this is a sign of the success of the gacha format. But what do you think? Will gacha games overtake the western F2P mobile market?
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