The biggest issue with any gacha game that allows you to upgrade your character while artificially slowing progression with a paywall is that you will be punished for playing well. That is why games like this never get widely popular and only a niche player base willing to spend that much or people with the tolerance for self punishment and unhealthy addiction.
No gacha game will ever allow you to freely farm out your progress at a reasonable pace if you are willing to put in the effort. That’s because by their very nature they are predatory. They cater to the 5% of people willing to drop 10k to gain every character. There will always be power creep because drawing a phobie isn’t cosmetic it gives a clear progression advantage. Don’t draw the best phobies and you don’t make it to the big leagues. I would 100% spend money on this game if I didn’t already know how deep that rabbit hole goes for a competitive natured person. No I’m not just BSing, I have Google play histories of 2k+ on games I can easily ss and share. I really liked like Genshin impact just for the characters themselves. That’s a NON competitive gacha game.
Yes Ive played competitive gacha games, ie: Ulala(idle strategy with teamplay) or Game of dice(table top monopoly with a card twist). Game of dice had amazing concept with teamplay and guild wars and it had a great community. Then the company ramped up the power creep with stats and bonuses for paying players. If you look up videos of it you will see what I mean. In all honesty the systems they added into that game were ingenious and would have made for great replayability we’re it not for the huge paywall just to use them. There were great systems ruined by cash grab business practices. Ulala failed by having the progression become meaningless.
You will never have a set of favorite phobies you can stop spending money on and just play Normally to stay competitive and progress. New phobies will come out that are better versions of the older ones as classic power creep. The low spenders/non spenders get hard capped not by skill level or time spent but by an artificial paywall that just feels like ****.
I’ve played many strategy games like this with GREAT game mechanics and wonderful interactions. BUT I will never step back on believing that no true competitive game has artificial barriers on progression or imbalances based on better stats.
In MY Opinion a healthy shop model would involve money sinks on story DLC. (Btw huge missed opportunity to have a story mode, I was drawn in by lips personality alone and the phobia concept), cosmetics outfits for phobies(ie: LOL), have systems you can use outside of your phobies to customize your strategy further, ie: universal gear for all phobies/gear for your account which you can upgrade using in game currency. NOT gacha system gear. Rather account level based progression or story mode locked gear. Or on account creation the specific choice of phobia you have allows you to boost those phobias in certain ways. This choice can be a HARD choice which required IAP to reset, with the exception of a freebie reset on new seasons or major patches. IaP to revert leveled phobies. These are all healthy money sinks as people who want to progress quickly and collect everything CAN but people who just enjoy the competitive nature won’t feel hard walled from enjoying the game.
Add team battles for those large maps with two summon spots in arena. This game has huge potential for more competitive avenues and community building just by it’s strategic nature. Map environmentals could be so much more to reduce the impact of overpowered phobias. You don’t have certain phobies your friend does? Want to see what comboes you can pull off if you had TWO of the same phobia? Teamplay is the avenue. Guilds, weekly competition. Experience bonuses for participating in the community experience is incentive for less social players. Guild war top 3 prizes. Individual top 3 prizes per season.
Divide the arena between competitive and Freeplay. Team and solo. (Refer to game of dice for good example of this type of rotation). Competitive should level the playing field so there are no level advantages just your strategic ability. Let players set phobies they discover as their “target” draw so it doesn’t feel like complete chance if you’ll ever be able to get a certain ultra rare. One choice a month is bearable even.
Non P2W monetization models are out there. Limiting your player bases progression with artificial walls is bad practice. Why play when I have nothing to gain from it? To test my skill? How is that possible when winning makes me hit a hard wall purely because I can’t upgrade my phobies or draw the meta ones.
There will always be metas based on general abilities but the developers can easily fix this in competitive modes by rotating new maps to benefit certain phobies. Just by some of the abilities I’ve seen on super rare phobies they are meant to be the cash grab and pay to win button which discourages me from even spending because it’s a never ending cycle.
P2Play/Compete is in this game and it could be so much better. I hate to see a gem of a game be left dusty and unpolished because the player base flees when they realize they have no fair chance in a pvp game. I’ve even started to think I’m playing bots at times when I have an easier match after losing to over leveled enemies. Competitive players like me don’t care to support cash grabs anymore. It remains yet to be seen if this is a way to slow down player progress until there is more content or just how it is intended to be. If it is the former please rethink this model. If it is the latter I’ll let my closed wallet speak.