Public outcry has resulted in Genshin Impact canceling a planned crossover with billionaire Elon Musk. Video games are always looking for new, innovative ways to market, but fans don’t always approve, as evidenced by the response to Genshin Impact\’s latest marketing gambit. In terms of ways to up fan engagement on social media, this one appears to have been a misfire. Genshin Impact is no stranger to fan backlash, having faced some just last month over its one-year anniversary offerings. The fans are vocal, and it seems like the Genshin Impact team listens.
Since Genshin Impact’s release a little over a year ago, it has seen an explosion in popularity, with over 23 million downloads within the first week of release alone. The developer, miHoYo, has capitalized on this and has found inventive ways to market the game and reward fans for playing. This has been a bit of a hit-or-miss strategy, though. As mentioned, the one-year anniversary was so poorly received that miHoYo ended up giving out bundles of Primogens and a cosmetic glider (that was initially supposed to be something players had to pay for). miHoYo also ran afoul of COVID-19 protocols in China after a Genshin Impact crossover event with KFC resulted in larger crowds at multiple locations than were allowed under China’s COVID protocols at the time. So, miHoYo is no stranger to the pros and cons of unique marketing strategies.
According to a Kotaku report, the latest outcry is in response to a contest based around the Genshin Impact character, Ella Musk. Based on Elon Musk, if enough people followed the character\’s account, Elon Musk would stream himself playing the game, and even possibly visit miHoYo’s headquarters. The response was swift, as many players felt it was a strange choice, given that Elon Musk isn’t known much for gaming—though he does claim to be a fan of Call of Duty—or for having anything to do with Genshin Impact. In response to the fan response, the tweet was deleted about four hours after it originally went up.
Elon Musk is an interesting figure who has been outspoken about what interests him—see, for example, the hand he played in the volatile development of Dogecoin earlier this year. He does have a considerable amount of influence and has gained a large following on social media. When Musk does talk about video games, he sometimes engages in trolling the developers, but that still draws attention to games, so having him promote Genshin Impact may have worked in the game’s favor, had it panned out.
MiHoYo will certainly keep finding new ways to promote its game. Elon Musk is certainly prolific and has even hosted Saturday Night Live (though fan reaction to that was also mixed). Perhaps the two parties will find a more suitable way to work together in the future.