I want to like Pokémon Masters bc it has a lot going on for it:
- Pokémon on my phone! with multiplayer!
- innovation on the main series gameplay, taking clear inspiration from Yokai Watch
- cute game design
- the look and feel of it is slick, reminding me a lot of Dragalia Lost
but on the other hand:
- wtf, why can't I customize my avatar's Pokémon, that's like 2/3 of what I wanted
- I don't think I have Another fucking gacha game in me
here's my hot take on gacha games: they are the natural progression of electronic gaming under capitalism
the vast majority of gacha games have two tiers of players: whales, who can spend thousands of dollars on the game, and everyone else, who by and large don't pay but might be convinced into throwing ten bucks now and again
this mirrors exactly the structure of the real economy, where a small number of people have large amounts of disposable income, and everyone else barely scrapes by
this is also why PvP is usually unplayable in these games- they're selling the feeling of invincibility to whales, and unless you pay, you're not really a customer to them - you're a part of the product they're selling to whales. the feeling of beating your ass into the ground is what they're selling to anyone with a few grand to spare
When I see PvP advertised for mobile games, I know being able to participate will be predicated on how much I'm willing to spend.
I'm fascinated by how mobile games get you to spend. Tiering out PvP that resets weekly seems to be one of those ways, with your reward for doing well being entry into the low-end of a higher tier. It starts easy to rank up but the true cost of climbing the ranks is obfuscated. Too often this is coupled with even more rankings, many of which give no or few rewards.
And like you said, the rankings don't mean much more than "I spent a chunk of change to get my name on the leaderboard." In love Nikki, limited pavs (gatchas) have leaderboards for most pulls. I frequently see people who pull many more times than necessary (numbers where you would 100% the pav and you're just pulling dupes) to hold the top spot. I will 100% a pav and never see my name on the boards.
If that isn't manipulating competitive tendencies, I don't know what is.
Most whales know mobile games are catered towards them. A subset of whales are vocal about free players being leeches, while they "hold up" their game. They decry mass action such as boycotting events and asking for changes as well as price decreases or limited items returning.
I think this attitude also folds right into your point, that these monetization practices create a divide that mirrors class divisions outside of digital spaces.
@melissasage Yep. I deleted Pokemon Go and Clash of Clans a good while ago for those reasons. No more of those games on my phone. I think I have 25k unplayed sudokus in my Open Sudoku app. That should keep me occupied for a good while ;-)
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