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Old 04-15-2013, 12:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Are Gacha Machines in SL A Scam?

I've been reading a lot about gachas in SL in light of the recent thread a conflict over one and heard from various people about problems with them.

It seems that what was once a fun and silly diversion (I went with someone to a place that had them several years ago and got a bunch of silly things for like $5L each try) is now something that is preying on people using the principles of gambling to addict people while using completely unregulated scripts that often fail and may not offer up so called "rare" items at all, regardless of how often someone pays into it.

Japan has been cracking down on gachas in games:

Japan: Gatcha System for games on SNS may be legally considered as gambling - NeoGAF

Japan's Gaming Firms will Cooperate with Regulation

Gotcha! Ban on Social Games

How is this not a violation of SL's gambling policies? I know it is all buyer beware and no one is forced to use them, but the increased popularity of them combined with the complete lack of any accountability in the machines is problematic. With some charging $100L or more per play and people not getting rare items after 30 or 40 tries and getting the same item multiple times in a row even though the machine may have 20 options, it is clear that the scripts are pretty badly written and may not even be offering up rare items at all (which is fake "rarity" anyway).

What do you think?
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Old 04-15-2013, 12:30 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I try to keep my head cold, but that is not so easy. Normally when I browse the Marketplace, price is one of many important factors.

It is a clear sign of obsession, that an item I would ordinary pay only 200žL for, and really stop to think twice if it cost 300žL... I can play 5-6 times and spend twice or more it would cost if it was offered for sale a normal way. And still not recieving it.

I let myself be carried away and have lots of navy rollerskates. But I stop before it comes so out of hand as the trailer story.
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Old 04-15-2013, 12:40 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Old 04-15-2013, 12:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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First, there is no 'T' in gacha.

If I put money in a gacha machine (RL or SL) and get something that as a normal sale item would be priced at or above the amount, (in SL, I think most tend to be well above), I don't see it as gambling. Trying for a specific color or version, or having one or more "rare" versions available which are statistically less likely or limited in number, certainly adds to the game element, but I'd say gambling then is occurring only in your head. The ability to trade items until you get the one you want I think further alleviates the charge.

As for SL specifically, if a vendor is using a script that fails to ever provide the rare ones or the random element is fixed, I'd call that cheating rather than gambling.

There's a form of gacha known as kompu gacha, where one is expected to collect a number of items together (examples: card set, outfit), and which usually includes "grand prizes" for collecting the full set or all the special/rare items. This of course creates a much lower chance of payout. It's probably no worse than card collecting has always been - even so, kompu gacha is banned in Japan, since it is far closer to gambling than standard gacha.
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Old 04-15-2013, 01:01 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Are Gatcha Machines in SL A Scam?
Yes, dammit, they are! Now give me that Rare or I'll hold my breath until I turn blue!!!
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Old 04-15-2013, 01:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cristiano View Post
With some charging $100L or more per play and people not getting rare items after 30 or 40 tries and getting the same item multiple times in a row even though the machine may have 20 options, it is clear that the scripts are pretty badly written and may not even be offering up rare items at all (which is fake "rarity" anyway).
Actually it means the scripts are working as intended, providing a random chance.

Random Chance means you can get that rare on the 1st try.
It also can mean that you will not have won it on the 1000th try.
It means that there is a chance that you get the same item 50 times in a row when the gacha has 100 items in it.
And it means you can play it 100 times and end up getting all the 100 items it offers with no doubles at all.

That is random chance. That is the random script working perfectly fine.

Whoever plays MMORPG's with the dread RNG (Random Number Generator) can sing many a song about it. In a game called Tera online it took my guild mates 5 to 10 tries to Masterwork their weapon. The chance that you need more than 50 tries is below 1%. It took me 101 tries to Masterwork my axe.

I bitched and moaned about it because hell, that was an entire weeks work when guildmates got theirs within a day. Did I blame the system and said the programming is faulty? Nope. That's exactly what the programming is supposed to do. Give people their Masterwork on the 1st try, and leave others hanging at 250+ tries. It's after all RANDOM.

Just wanted to clear this up.

;tdlr Scripts are working as intended. Random is random is random is random.
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Old 04-15-2013, 01:06 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I don't think it's gambling because you always get something in return, and the price you pay into the machines are usually heavily discounted from the original price of the object. The variant of the object you get is the only bit of gambling. You are still paying for a something.

And according to this kb article, you are not paying for a chance to win L$, currency, or thing of value -- you always get something.

However I agree about the regulation. I think it would be fair if all these games have their returns listed on the machines. Such as the common items you get are 75%, uncommons 20% and rares 5%.

Tangentially, The Wastelands has sort of been doing this for 6+ years now. The boxes you loot are "labelled", in that the type of box represents how often it spawns. Another major difference being I charge the time for looking for things, instead of L$.

Both systems though allow transfer and forbid copy, which lead to 3rd party micro-economies that dictate the value of the things. Even though that's a whole other discussion, the creator has no ability to set the value of an object sold through gatchas.

Which leads to the big question -- does the player determine the value of the "thing of value" I mentioned in the first paragraph? Or is the value determined by the creators no-refund policy of these machines?
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Old 04-15-2013, 01:35 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Are Gatcha Machines in SL A Scam?

So long as the gatcha seller does not give any misdirection to the probability of each item, and prices them all the same (that means if they give the option to buy them back or trade for other things they must treat them all as equal value as well) and exactly one gift is given each time with 100% certainty, it is in no way gambling or a scam.

If people value the different ratites in different amounts, that is no problem of the seller.

You are buying one of the item, but which one is at the digression of the seller. There is nothing wrong with that in my book.
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Old 04-15-2013, 01:40 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Things like gatcha machines take advantage of most people's illiteracy with statistics. That is something they share with many traditional gambling games.

The first time I encountered a gatcha machine in Second Life, I passed it by because I could not figure out what it was trying to sell me. My advice to anyone would be that, just like you don't play slot machines without knowing the payout, don't play gatcha machines without knowing the payout.

(Unfortunately, even if the payouts for SL gatcha machines were advertised, there is still no regulatory board equivalent to state gambling commissions that could regulate the veracity of the claims.)

I don't understand exactly what qualifies as gambling under SL policy, so I assume that whether or not gatcha machines violate SL gambling policy depends on whether there are any Lindens who like playing gatcha in-world.
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Old 04-15-2013, 02:42 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Gatchas are more or less the equivalent of the candy and toy machines you see for kids at some grocery and department stores.
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Old 04-15-2013, 02:49 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I think the only way it would be a scam is if there was actually only one item in the machine and not all the ones as advertised. Easy way to keep from getting ripped off is to go with trustworthy merchants. That or edit the machine and make sure it actually has all the items listed before taking your chances.
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Old 04-15-2013, 02:53 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Killjoy View Post
Actually it means the scripts are working as intended, providing a random chance.

That is random chance. That is the random script working perfectly fine.

It's after all RANDOM.

;tdlr Scripts are working as intended. Random is random is random is random.
This is from the LSL Wiki

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The random number generator is not a source of entropy.
The sequence of random numbers are shared across the entire simulator process, and not independently seeded. Therefore, the pseudo random number generation is not suitable for any application which requires completely predictable or completely unpredictable results.
Don't know if the gatcha's are using llFRand or not...
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Old 04-15-2013, 02:54 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Are Gacha Machines in SL A Scam?

I'm not so sure about probabilities. They can't matter...

What's the difference between a 1 in 1000000 chance and simply not giving them in that machine at all? Is one "ok" and the other is not? Where do you draw the line?

Must you require equal chances? If rarity is allowed, now disproportionate can you get? The only solution is to say rarity dosn't matter as long as you get one of the things promised

A RL gatcha machine emptied and not contain a rare item, after all.
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Old 04-15-2013, 02:56 PM   #14 (permalink)
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From what I understand about the scripts being used, they often get reset by SL weirdness and many times fail to give out any rares at all. There also seems to be no accountability in the systems - while the merchant can see that the machine was paid, they can't see what items are given out or how often rares are occurring.

As a programmer, I fully understand how random works. Still, if the machines are giving out the same item in the same color over and over again, that is not so much random as just plain shitty.
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Old 04-15-2013, 02:59 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Are Gacha Machines in SL A Scam?

If they aren't properly seeding their random based on a time seed plus a hash salt, they're doing it wrong. >_<
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Old 04-15-2013, 03:01 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Are Gacha Machines in SL A Scam?

Perhaps stated rarities should be a requirement?
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Old 04-15-2013, 03:07 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I believe there was something fishy going on with a gacha at the December Arcade round:

Standby Inc had a gacha with headphones that had special gold and silver headphones and stand microphones as the rares, plus a mystery rare. A LOT of people played that gacha, but the silver microphones seem to be a heck of a lot rarer than you'd think. There's usually more demand than supply for certain rares, but the silver microphone's scarcity is way too suspicious.

And during the September round the wrong skin from Glam Affair's gacha was listed as the rare, but that was just due to human error, most likely.
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Old 04-15-2013, 03:12 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I had one go , on one gacha machine at this round of The Arcade. Not because I got what I wanted first try, but because I saw little point in taking that chance to not get what I really wanted.

The yard sales really took the need away for me to feed the gacha machines. I went, found the colour/item I desired, and bought it...simple.

(cheap gacha machines that dispense fun stuff for under 10l, I'll happily plug away at for agessss )
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Old 04-15-2013, 03:13 PM   #19 (permalink)
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The theory of a gacha (random item on payment) isn't a scam imo, but, the way gachas operate can easily be set up to scam people.

I personally don't like them at all.
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Old 04-15-2013, 03:15 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NeoBokrug Elytis View Post
I don't think it's gambling because you always get something in return, and the price you pay into the machines are usually heavily discounted from the original price of the object. The variant of the object you get is the only bit of gambling. You are still paying for a something.

And according to this kb article, you are not paying for a chance to win L$, currency, or thing of value -- you always get something.

However I agree about the regulation. I think it would be fair if all these games have their returns listed on the machines. Such as the common items you get are 75%, uncommons 20% and rares 5%.

Tangentially, The Wastelands has sort of been doing this for 6+ years now. The boxes you loot are "labelled", in that the type of box represents how often it spawns. Another major difference being I charge the time for looking for things, instead of L$.

Both systems though allow transfer and forbid copy, which lead to 3rd party micro-economies that dictate the value of the things. Even though that's a whole other discussion, the creator has no ability to set the value of an object sold through gatchas.

Which leads to the big question -- does the player determine the value of the "thing of value" I mentioned in the first paragraph? Or is the value determined by the creators no-refund policy of these machines?

On the scripts Ive used (and mostly seen in SL) the probability of rare payout is displayed on mouseover. You'll get something like this:

"skull sweater gacha 50,5" where 50 is the cost and 5 is the rare probability.
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Old 04-15-2013, 03:17 PM   #21 (permalink)
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I've only played them a handful of times. And usually only once or twice each -- I'll play them if I think the item is cute and don't especially care which variation I get. (Though I will be chuffed if I get a rare )
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Old 04-15-2013, 03:39 PM   #22 (permalink)
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I admit I'd feel better if I'd scripted a gacha myself, so I'd know what it was doing, and could even have it llownersay at me while testing so I could know what's going on. But I haven't the time to reinvent the wheel.
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Old 04-15-2013, 04:00 PM   #23 (permalink)
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I think they are a bit of fun. I play them occasionally if I see one with something I know I'll use and enjoy. If one is offering something I don't want, I'll pass on it.

I've used them a few times in my business, mostly to help raise funds for charity events, and they are quite successful. Watching the pattern of spending on them, I see people having a few goes, maybe half a dozen, which seems pretty healthy to me. It's hardly bank-breaking stuff, and it's always clear from the ad what the gacha contents are.
I don't have them in my store atm, only at locations which are specially for gachas so the customers already know how the system works. I can imagine that life is simpler for all if gachas and conventional vendors are kept separate.
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Old 04-15-2013, 04:46 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Even basic and simple probability requires a certain amount of mathematical ability.

How often do you want the rare item(s), on average, to appear? As a percentage? As odds? Per day? Or maybe as fixed numbers? (In which case you're probably violating the spirit of the ga(t)cha as understood by most of its users).

What does the ga(t)cha script you're using want in the way of input? Probabilities per item per purchase? Percentages? Odds? Time intervals? What happens if the values you specify don't add up?

If a ga(t)cha script appears to be misbehaving, on what sample size are you basing that conclusion? Is it large enough? (And you can't answer even that question without knowing what the actual setup – as opposed to even the intended setup – within the script is).

OK – so this is Second Life. So maybe that influences the likelihood of cockup versus conspiracy. Almost everywhere cockup is the odds-on favourite.

But unless you know the actual probabilities you're up against and you don't actually care about the result, you're gambling.
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Old 04-15-2013, 04:50 PM   #25 (permalink)
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@KT, How is it gambling if you -don't- care what colour trailer you get, as long as you get one - and you get one? Maybe if you -do- care, and then don't get it, its gambling, but all the gacha is promising is you will get -one- of the items from the machine.

Like a toy gumball machine, which again, isn't considered gambling.
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