New Ni no Kuni game ruins its own economy with crypto-based gacha mechanics

Ni no Kuni fans are doubly disappointed by the series’ latest entry, as it’s become clear that its crypto-focused gacha mechanics aren’t even attractive to serial spenders.

Back in March, developer Netmarble revealed Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds, a free-to-play RPG available for PC and Mobile. The game promised the same ghibli-esque artwork that’s driven the series so far, returning to the world of the well-received Ni no Kuni 2.

Unfortunately, that’s more or less where Cross World’s similarities with the rest of the series ends. Rather than a traditional RPG, the new outing is a gacha-focused title, but rather than rely on traditional currency to let those players who so desire to pay for more content, the developers have developed a cryptocurrency system. Players can take in-game items and trade them for tokens in-game. Those tokens can then be traded for the developers’ own cryptocurrency, Marblex, which can then be exchanged for other forms of cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin.

It’s a complex system of exchange, but it’s also part of a game that then appears to be deceptively shallow. In a post on the gachagaming subreddit (opens in new tab), user Tezoze complains about the the sheer quantity of activities gated behind the game’s primary currency, Territe. “Almost everything in the game” now requires the currency, but the “deal breaker” is what’s available to buy with Marblex.

Tezoze says that “it seems like you can literally buy the best in slot sets and pets in the game right off the store.” Using the cryptocurrency eliminates the need to pay to unlock things through traditional gacha mechanics, and the only way to earn it without buying it outright is by farming it through PvP, which is already massively imbalanced by the currency itself.

The result is that even ‘whales’ – a term used to describe the small number of players who spend a disproportionate amount on their favourite games – aren’t engaging with the system “as there is nothing left to work for” once they’ve simply purchased the best items.

This seems, however, to be something of a pattern for Netmarble, a Korean studio which is entirely separate to the Japanese developer of the other games in the series, Level-5. A number of commenters have pointed out that Netmarble’s gacha mechanics are particularly aggressive, even if this new approach has delved into full-fledged ‘pay-to-win’ territory particularly early. This is the studio’s first foray into cryptocurrency and NFTs, which might explain the new approach, but that’s unlikely to placate fans’ disappointment.

Confused by the worlds of cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens? You’re not alone, so here’s NFTs explained.

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