Breath of the Wild was certainly a game-changer for the open-world genre, and other titles have taken direct inspiration from Nintendo\’s critical darling, like Ubisoft\’s Immortals Fenyx Rising.
Despite claims of being a Zelda clone, Genshin Impact has had phenomenal success since its launch, attracting even more players than Breath of the Wild. There\’s a pretty clear cut reason as to why that is, however.
The most obvious answer as to why Genshin Impact is more successful than Breath of the Wild is simply a much larger player-base. While the Switch has sold over 65 million consoles to date, that\’s still nothing compared to the number of iOS and Android devices out there. Genshin Impact hit 17 million downloads on mobile just days after its release and as a free-to-play title, it can attract those that may not be initially interested. Hundreds of millions of mobile users can simply go to their app store and see Genshin Impact as a recommended new game. This is totally separate from players on PS4 and PC, which adds hundreds of millions more. Breath of the Wild has been a phenomenal success, but a free game is always going to be more attractive to a lot of players than a $60 price tag, plus the price of buying a Nintendo Switch. It\’s easy to see why Genshin Impact would attract a wealth of players, especially with strong word-of-mouth and marketing. However, its success is also tied to the core design of a gacha game.
Genshin Impact is really one of the first games of its kind, a full-fledged AAA gacha game. The \”gacha\” genre derives its name from a series of Japanese vending machines where people pay to get a capsule containing a random figure or character. Known as gacha machines, the idea carried into video games when titles started using random draws to award players new characters, items, etc. For years now gacha games have blown up on mobile, but it\’s rare to see one with a huge budget, and one that hits any kind of success on home consoles. Genshin Impact does both of these things, and strings players along with the promise of new playable characters. The gacha mechanics and microtransactions don\’t feel as insidious in Genshin Impact because there\’s a lengthy, quality experience at the core of the game that players can get through without spending a dime.
Genshin Impact\’s budget was nearly 100 million, which is a sizable chunk of change to gamble on for a brand new free-to-play IP. Clearly, the gamble paid off, however, as the core strengths of the game have encouraged players to spend money. Within one week of release, Genshin Impact has brought in $60 million, making back half its budget in a flash. MiHoYo has a lengthy post-launch plan for the game, and with first-week sales that high, Genshin Impact is already a runaway success.
Genshin Impact is currently available for PC, PS4, iOS, and Android.