With the recent investigation by some countries into whether or not certain elements in video games could be considered gambling, Japan’s Consumer Affairs Agency also began investigations this week into the nature of popular ‘gachapon’ style games. While most gacha games allow game content to be acquired freely, many give the ability for the player to exchange real money for in-game currency effectively allowing players to buy-in for a greater chance of reward.
Gambling is largely considered illegal in Japan; however, there are some exceptions that have allowed the practice to still take place. Pachinko, for example, is a game of chance which skirts around the law by offering non-monetary rewards to the player that can be exchanged in indirect ways.
Many popular gachas opt to use characters of cute girls in order to entice people to keep playing. Players hoping to collect their favorite girl will often spend countless numbers of hours and sometimes large amounts of money in order to obtain a jpeg of a character one could alternatively just find in a Google Images search for free. For some, the habit of purchasing Japanese iTunes gift cards to dump into the game becomes a vicious cycle that they can never break.
“I don’t need another of this piece of trash,” Love Live! School Idol Festival player Conner Mitchell stated as he removed another Nico card from his game roster. “I’ve been trying for the past six hours to get the special winter Nozomi for this week’s event but all I’ve gotten is junk. I know it’s not looked upon very highly, but sometimes I just get the urge to spend a little so I can play the game how I want.”
“I don’t even like this damn game,” revealed Kantai Collection player Kevin Saunder. “No seriously, it sucks. You don’t even control anything, the battles just play themselves. Then you have to wait for hours for your ship girls to repair. I’m not sure why I keep playing. I’ve been meaning to quit, but every time I see their smiling faces I can’t bring myself to stop.”
Despite the potentially additive nature of these games, the Consumer Affairs Agency of Japan ruled that such games were not gambling as long as the player was encouraged by pure moe rather than monetary reward. As long as the girls were deemed cute enough, then a game would still be considered legal. Games where the girls were not cute enough were obviously being played for other reasons, according to the agency, and could be considered unfit for consumers.
At press time, the Consumer Affairs Agency could not be reached for additional comment regarding their decision as all members were busy doing their daily gacha pulls.