I generally stay away from them as a rule, but many of these games have a reputation of tapping into the human weakness for gambling addictions by offering random amounts of currency needed to unlock newer and better heroes at a ludicrously slow rate, and then offer more reasonable odds for a price. These tend to be time sinks for freebie players and money sinks for those willing to spend money.
Of course, much of the issue is that Gacha games pretty much evolved on the mobile environment, where these practices are pretty much the status quo. The game mechanics are built around gambling tendencies, but it could be possible to adapt it a bit to more standard monetization practices that won’t get you burned at the stake. Actually, one model would be to look at Traveler Tales’ Lego games. One feature is that you get to collect a large collection of characters (Heroes, if you will) from the franchise you can play as, many with unique abilities (besides the “wow” factor of being able to play as Darth Vader). While many could be unlocked just by going through the story mode (including heavy hitters like Indiana Jones, Superman, and, surprisingly enough, Darth Vader), most of the villains and NPC characters like General Grievous and Galadriel had to be purchased with the in-game currency of studs. However, all of these studs could realistically earned through in-game methods. Even the ludicrously expensive characters like Lex Luthor could be shortcut if you budgeted enough to invest in stud multipliers. While these games may have been for kids, there was still a lot of reward in putting in the hours to purchase your favorite villain through what feels like entirely your own efforts. The only price of admission was the $40 dropped for the CD in the first place. A perfect hero collection game, with old-fashioned, reliable monetization.
If you are ever in a need to expand your monetization options in the future, you could always try DLC packs that add new characters to unlock. Just be sure to add other stuff like additional campaigns as well, to avoid the micro-transaction and battle pass stigma.
TL;DR: Play Lego Star Wars. That should give you some ideas.
Only played Fate Grand Order because it has a fairly decent story. I found the monetization practices allright, though I’m not the target audience for that game because:
a) I never spend any money in f2p games
b) I dropped the game before getting ti the endgame where it gets really grindy from what I’ve heard.
c) I don’t buy into the “waifu culture” where people want to pull a specific character, just because it’s their favorite. I just used the characters I had at hand and I can’t say I had any trouble getting through the game.
So yeah, overall I liked the game, but if I was the game’s target audience, I’d probably hate the excessive monetization and bad luck at pulls/summons/whatever the game calls the character acquisition process.
That isn’t unique to “waifu culture.” Any character with enough “wow” factor will have people that really want to play as them. Sauron and Ringwraiths were a pretty popular choices in our LEGO Lord of the Rings sessions, even though they are pretty much useless compared to even the Fellowship characters.
While this is very much true, most gacha games I’ve seen use original, not licensed IP. Therefore there is no characters that the users would know and love from elsewhere and so the game designers need a different way to distinguish the characters.
True. I can think of two ways this can be accomplished:
Give different characters unique abilities and stat balances. This will cause the characters to be more suited to different playstyles and situations, which makes the optimizer-type players focus on the entire group of collectables for different situations, while still having a few favorites that fit a given playstyle.
The second (non-mutually exclusive) option would be to get the artists to work hard to visually distinguish the characters, and a lot more than just using different colors. Different animation themes and moods will go a long way towards giving each character a unique personality and feel.