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Galapagos syndrome hits Japan's mobile game industry

Variants of outlawed fee system still gouge gamers, foil global sales

Cygames has introduced a new fee-charging method for "Granblue Fantasy" so users can avoid spending too much money.

TOKYO -- Japan's mobile game industry is thriving at home, but plodding along globally due to the industry hitting a dead end in its efforts to make its fee-charging schemes more palatable to users. Widely seen to be suffering from the Galapagos effect, a tendency of certain business sectors to focus solely on the needs of domestic users, the industry's current state of affairs bodes ill for overseas expansion.

Japanese game companies will not be able to compete overseas as long as they rely on gacha.

Five years ago, a monetization scheme for mobile games caused a furor as addicted users began shelling out sizable sums to support their gaming habits. Known as "kompu gacha," or complete gacha, the system induced users fixated on their games to pay real money to receive virtual tokens or other rewards.

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