These days, many smartphone users have software applications varying from fitness trackers to social media to video games. What many consider “free to play” games are “pay to win”, which tempts users to use real money to buy in-game consumables, upgrades, skips, or whatever they are trying to promote.
These types of games that have been dubbed as “Gacha” games due to their Japanese origin of being related to toy vending machines for children. While some games may give players a way to practice their hand-eye coordination or hone their puzzle solving skills, these “gacha games” feed off of people who are unable to unable to control their addiction.
Addiction to video games is not new. Kids, back in the early 1980s were addicted to arcade games like Donkey Kong or Pac-Man. It was so prevalent that a former addict, Martin Amis, published a book titled Invasion of the Space Invaders: An Addict’s Guide to Battle Tactics, Big Scores and the Best Machines. The problem is that the” INSERT COIN” text on the arcade machine has transitioned into a device that most, if not all, Americans have at this point: the coveted mobile cellular device!
Smartphones are now a gateway and enabler to addiction in gacha games due to the ease of access to our bank accounts and other forms of cash transaction accounts. This ease has continued to lure and trap “whales” (players who sink in a lot of money into games). According to Swrve, mobile marketing automation platform, only 0.15% of gamers account for 50% of the mobile game revenue. So, when whales pay up, they pay buckets of money into these “freemium” games. According to Think Gaming, Candy Crush Saga makes $2,166,978 in daily revenue just through in-app purchases.
Mobile games also have kicked it up a notch by forcing players to wait in real time to continue playing. To speed up the process, players may use special in game currency that is difficult to find, but easy to purchase. It has arguably made the game more addictive due to the long down time and the feeling of accomplishment once you beat a level. They further increase the addiction by manufacturing difficulty and essentially selling new items to aid a user to beat the task at hand and making it near impossible to accomplish when played without paying.
Obtaining gems, armor, lives and other in-game bonuses has never been easier due to the simplicity of paying for them via debit/credit cards. These games prey on the young, the old, and those with addictive personalities.