Cultivating a Healthier Relationship to 'Genshin Impact'

Genshin Impact was downloaded 17 million times at its mobile launch, not including the players who prefer to play it on the PS4 or their personal computer. Even high-profile streamers like Mtashed and Lacari have started to buy Genshin rolls (similar to lootboxes) in front of their audiences, to some later remorse. Some influencers even spent thousands of dollars on-stream. Is this how the average person is meant to play gacha games such as Genshin Impact?


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/93w378/how-to-play-genshin-impact-without-getting-gouged-by-microtransactions

I get, on a surface level, where the author is coming from, but the fact remains that this article reads like “if you are predisposed to developing a gambling problem: simply don’t!”

Like…I’m sure most people who are hesitant to immerse themselves in gacha are largely aware that it’s all smoke and mirrors utilized to generate FOMO, but it’s honestly kind of insulting, as someone who has genuine issues with impulse control stemming from multiple comorbid mental illnesses, to read an article that essentially boils down to “just don’t have that.” I understand that this was not the author’s intent, but…I’m calling this one an L.

EDIT: I also just find it really disheartening that not one outlet, not even Waypoint, will go so far as to like, even lightly condemn gacha for being what it is: predatory in a way that “personal responsibility” cannot plaster over. These games are designed to part you from your money, and even if you “set good boundaries” in the beginning, the gameplay loop is designed to erode them. Power creep, free spin events–even if they don’t get you immediately, they aim to get you somewhere down the line. There’s not really a way to play gacha responsibly because the developers just don’t want you to.

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Who the hell is this aimed at

e: to be clear, i understand the point this sentence is making but i do not think you can claim to be writing about how to engage with gacha games “healthily” then tell someone it’s ok to spend 300 bucks on one (which for most people!!! is a lot!!! of fucking!!! money!!!)

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Literally “RIP to gambling addicts, but I’m different”.

Fuck gacha.

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Eh, I’ve played plenty of gacha over the years and manage to always keep my spending very minimal, if not completely F2P, so it is possible to play responsibly. That being said, I don’t disagree that many of them are designed to exploit the type of people who would spend more than they should. I play them because I know I can keep myself in check and I don’t have a problem quitting if I feel the game is getting too F2P unfriendly, but I have never felt comfortable recommending them to people, even the ones I like, because I don’t want to be responsible for dragging someone into a pit they can’t escape.

It is, for all intents and purposes, gambling. It is possible to gamble responsibly, but for most people it’s safer to just not gamble at all.

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Speaking as someone who has been exploited before by a game with gacha mechanics (Overwatch): I knew this sort of stuff and the game still got me to spend hundreds of euros on it. And the framing of “it’s about not letting the game lure you into violating your own boundaries” is frankly fucking gross. I get the idea that neither the writers nor the editors actually considered the perspective of those who are exploited (or susceptible to being exploited) by gacha games.

I’m incredibly disappointed that this article was put up.

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But see, that’s the crux of the thing: that “playing responsibly” typically involves quitting the game entirely. And like, I see your point, I play exactly one game with gacha elements (Cookie Run) and I’ve had to put it down for months at a time when I started feeling The Itch, but I will maintain that the end goal for the devs in all situations is for you to spend money, and that is typically just not compatible with long-term, “responsible” free play.

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I get your point, and I absolutely agree that they are explicitly designed to get you to spend money in as many ways as possible, I just don’t agree that it is literally impossible to avoid it.

Gacha games can’t survive without people spending money, but they also can’t survive without a decent sized F2P base. The most successful gacha games are carefully designed to straddle the line where they are feasible to play without ever spending money, but with just enough inconveniences or incentives to push you to spend money to overcome them. (Or more often than not, attractive units that players feel the urge to pull at all costs.) The gacha games that get too greedy and throw their F2P base under the bus to squeeze out more money from whales are rarely successful long term.

So if a gacha game knows what it’s doing it is possible to maintain a responsible F2P playstyle, but I also recognize their true goal is always to turn F2P into spenders, so I don’t want to try to defend it too hard. I simply know from years of experience that it is possible.

I’m curious as to what would be a more ethical way to do free to play in this case. Considering Genshin’s home market, I don’t see a boxed retail copy going anywhere, so how does one make an ongoing Breath of the Wild sustainably funded while also not exploiting folks?

I impulse-installed this game on my phone while listening to discussion of it on the pod a couple of weeks ago. I uninstalled it promptly, because I know better than to let these sorts of experiences into my life, but that moment of weakness didn’t feel great.

I don’t spend nearly as much time as I did lurking on these forums before burning out on the post Five Star Runtime era turmoil. That I’m logging in and posting now because of how disappointed I am that this piece appeared in the form it did doesn’t feel great either.

A lot of this (most of it, even) is a “me” problem, but not all of it. I appreciate the attempt at teasing out something more nuanced than a prohibitionist moral panic, but I remain skeptical that the number of people who can lifehack their way to some entertainment is greater than the number who will be influenced by the dark patterns designed to manipulate us regardless of our commitment to enlightened rational consumerism.

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Between this piece, and the recent influx of CP2077 fluff articles, I’m pretty disappointed with the site’s editorial direction.

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Yeah, this has been a really shitty week for Vice Gaming IMO.

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Logged back in for similar reasons. I’m not personally susceptible to this sort of thing, but having worked in mobile gaming before, it’s super super clear how much this kind of thing preys on people, probably more so in a game that’s actually interesting in F2P. A lot of skinner-box number-go-up style games don’t really give you gameplay variation the way that Genshin does with new characters.

Either way, it feels like this article could have made the same points it’s making about how the economies of these games actually work, how the urgency is fabricated, etc. without framing it like basically the “git gud” of fiscal responsibility. Breaking down these things is valuable, but it should be in direct conversation with how they prey on people’s psychology (even if they “know better”).

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At the risk of being a bit flippant: if they can’t, they shouldn’t!

But honestly, I suspect there’s a more fixed-cost model that could be sustainable. It’s definitely possible for the draws to be tuned in such a way that a fixed amount of money is guaranteed to get you at least every available character. You could also skirt around the chance part entirely with an economy like League of Legends, in which you can buy new characters as they release, or eventually earn in-game soft currency to purchase them.

Honestly, there are a lot of models, but as far as I’m aware, true random-chance lootboxes with no eventual guarantees (or really really expensive ones) is the greatest extreme of the problem. Different countries have all sorts of regulations around lootboxes, and I think stronger ones could do a lot to curb abuse! But it can be difficult to get mainstream attention on them. Kind of frustrating, too, that the article doesn’t mention that Japan’s legislation (or at least culture, article is vague) for publishers is different than the states or China.

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I absolutely will echo the sentiments of others in that not only is this article problematic, it’s almost negligent. Gacha is purposely a system that is made to exploit and prey on people who have poor impulses. Every bit of it is carefully crafted to make sure you spend money, however big or small the amount, as possible. They don’t need to make everyone a whale. They just need to get enough people to be whales and the rest can be fringe spenders who feel good that they didn’t drop their life savings on anime boys and girls that are “rare”. If this is supposed to be how they sustain their game or business then they shouldn’t have made it and shouldn’t be in business.

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This article is really gross. It ignores or dismisses all the exploitative tactics gacha games use to give you a gambling addiction and puts the responsibility on you. There is zero analysis of the psychological mechanism they use to get you hooked. Zero acknowledgement that the gaming industry hires literal psychologists to design their mechanics. The only “advice” it provides is “just don’t spend money”.

You don’t hand a vulnerable person a cigarette claiming it’s fine if they only do it once a week and then blame them for failing to do that. You don’t go to an AA meeting to boast about how easily you can limit your own liquor consumption and claim that everyone else in the room should be just the same. Addictions are a serious issue.

I am frankly baffled by waypoint’s decision to run this irresponsible article.

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I didn’t pay for my first cigarette. I went on a club trip in college, and the coach offered me one. Of the four of us, I was the only non-smoker and, given my massive amount of anxiety at that time, I didn’t need a whole lot of convincing to accept. Anyway, within the next two years I was spending upwards of $50/week on a pack a day habit.

This is a grossly irresponsible article that makes light of how easy it can be to become addicted to something. Sure, Genshin is a game that’s good enough for free players to enjoy themselves without spending anything, but once you’ve completed the available story and you realize the only way to keep progressing (i.e. getting new chances to spin the slot machine) is via time-gated grinding, the itch to spend $10-20 on some gems here and there can become all the more enticing. And just like with that first cigarette of mine, it’s easy to tell yourself all these tips and convince yourself that you won’t become addicted – but for a lot of people, that’s nothing more than some siren song veiled in hollow self-affirmation.

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Even as someone who “responsibly” played Dragalia, after a year I felt like I’d put tons of time and money into an elaborately gussied up skinner box, which is all any gacha game is, period. If the core design of a game is about gambling real money, then every other aspect of it is irrevocably poisoned.

Horrendous article that should be taken down.

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Extremely disappointed with Waypoint here.

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I think it should be noted for the sake of clarity that Sisi has clarified on twitter that the people harrassing them on twitter are from some right wing dipshit from youtube and that they aren’t rejecting the discussion out of hand.

That isn’t to say that anybody on here have made that argument but twitter is such a damn maelström and you can easily get a completely warped impression of a situation if you miss a couple lines of context.

The article is bad, I don’t agree with Sisi’s framing of the subject, and it sounds like they’re open to having that conversation. It’s just hard to have it when you’re being bombarded by rightwing shitheads at the same time.

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