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What are gacha games? Important gacha terms explained

by | Jan 3, 2023

Reading Time: 3 min.
Reading Time: 3 min.

The popularity of gacha games increases every year, with millions of active players every day. This is a genre of games with a specific language and terms that any new player must understand. While there are many games in this genre, many of the terms used to describe gacha mechanics are globally recognized.

If you’re just now getting into the genre, here’s what exactly defines a gacha game and a quick index for phrases used to describe the genre’s trappings.

What is a gacha game?

A gacha game is a video game that uses a loot box system, also known as the gacha mechanic, to fuel its core gameplay. Players must use in-game currency to purchase items, which are randomly distributed. The items could be characters, cosmetics, weapons, and many more, depending on each game.

Gacha games are broadly popular in Asia and, in recent years, have become popular in western markets. Gacha games are constantly being compared with gambling and how addictive these games are. While most games claim to be free-to-play, at a certain point, players are often incentivized to use real money to advance.  

One example of a popular gacha game is Genshin Impact.

Why are they called gacha games?

“Gacha” comes from Gachapon, which refers to vending machines that dispense random capsule toys. These machines are popular in Japan, where you can find entire stores full of gachapon machines.

The gachapon machines have themes like popular anime series, food items, and more. To use the gachapon machine, the player inserts a coin into the machine and receives a random capsule that contains one item from a list of possible options. This is the same mechanic used in gacha games where players get items at random.

What is a whale in gacha terms?

In a gacha game, a whale is a player that spends high amounts of real money to max everything that can be maxed, like characters or weapons. Their goal is to be ranked number one in the game, and they will not hesitate to pay for whatever they need.

It is not a derogatory term, and whales are considered the backbone of gacha games since they are the ones spending money. There are other fish terms to refer to players, like a minnow, which refers to a player that only buys battle passes. The term dolphin is often used to describe gacha players that only buy items at discounted prices to make the most out of their money

Other gacha terms

Gacha tickets: in-game tickets that can be used to get free gacha pulls. These can be earned during specific events.

Banner: the term derives from the banners used to advertise specific content, and it refers to gachas that could potentially be earned. There are time-limited banners that encourage players to spend their in-game currency. The actual term banner comes from Fate: Grand Order, one of the first massively-popular gacha games.

Cosmetics: gacha pulls that change the appearance or sound of units or weapons such as character skins, voice lines, and music.

Rarity: a system that usually uses stars or letters to indicate how common or rare a pull is.

Dupe System: how each game deals with duplicates in a pull. Some games have no dupe systems, so players never get duplicates. Others allow players to turn their duplicates into a special currency that then can be used to get other items.

Crafting: using certain materials to obtain specific items. For example, using special currency to get more daily play time.

Events: content that is available for a limited time, it usually keeps track of the player’s progression and grants reward based on milestones.

Battle Pass: a system that tracks a player’s progression and grants experience. As players reach a new tier, they receive rewards. Battle Passes can be time limited.

Grinding: refers to the act of spending long periods of time playing on a daily basis with the goal of earning as many rewards as possible, increasing their level, or advancing in the game’s content.

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