Last year, when I started getting back into Second Life, I came across these things called gachas. They were a new concept to me, since I didn’t remember them from my previous experiences in SL. Some people liken gachas to gumball machines, where you put in your money and you get a gumball, but you don’t know what color it will be. As analogies go, it’s simplistic and imperfect.
Gachas operate on a system of chance, and it isn’t always clear what the odds are that you’ll get the item you want. Some items are considered rare and dispensed less frequently than others, which is annoying when you are trying to buy a particular item. It wouldn’t be so bad if the items were more like gumballs, and the only difference was the color, but gachas often sell items that are dissimilar. A better analogy might be to think of them as soda machines that offer a few different flavors, but the customer can’t choose the one they get. They put in their money and the machine decides which one it is going to give them. The machine treats them as if all sodas are equal, but they’re not. What’s a person supposed to do if they want a root beer and they get a lemon-lime soda? What if the machine has 99 lemon-lime sodas, and only two root beers? Gachas are considered games of chance for reasons similar to these.
Most governments consider games of chance to be gambling, and they’re starting to crackdown on such things in video games. Perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, Linden Labs has announced gachas are being phased out and will no longer be allowed in Second Life after August 31st. The reaction to this decision, with the wailing of the pro-gacha folk, and the cheering of the anti-gacha folk, shows how contentious the issue is.
There are companies in Second Life whose whole business model revolves around gachas, and this decision will hurt them the most, but it’s hard for me to feel any sympathy for them. If I want something, I don’t want to buy a chance to own it. I want to actually own it. I don’t understand why a company would use gachas to sell products. After all, what’s the problem with selling stuff normally? The customers get the products they want, and vendors get the money from the sale. Easy peasy.
I’m firmly in the anti-gacha camp and am not sorry to see them being booted from Second Life.
Photo by Michael Hawkes of gottahavacuppamocha.