What is making Genshin Impact seemingly more successful than other MMOs?

Here’s my totally unprofessional opinion of the game and how it’s become seemingly successful:

  1. It is a single player game that has mostly optional multiplayer elements, and NOT an massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). Multiplayer is not introduced until your account’s level (also known as Adventurer Rank) has reached level 16. And even then, the game keeps the entire system locked down HARD to just 4 characters maximum, regardless if it’s 2 characters per player in a 2-player co-op, 2 characters for the host + 1 character for every visitor in a 3-player co-op, or 1 character per player in a 4-player co-op. This makes the multiplayer experience much less dissociative and technologically problematic because of having too many players on screen.
  2. The MOSTLY FREE service they provide with this game-as-a-service is EXCELLENT. First you have a great canvass — the premise of this gigantic open world to explore and interact with, with each nation having a different style to them (visually, audible, and in the case of the recently added Dragonspire mountain, mechanically). Then, you follow this base premise with a solid investment on the teams involved (for example, the soundtracks were created by the Philharmonic Orchestra, and the quality of work shows). Then there’s the in-game lore (some directly mentioned, others implied). And then finally, the way each weapon type and each element feels when you play them actually helps convey a sense of realism.
  3. The gacha system, while brutally trash in terms of rates and arguably unfair, is surprisingly optional and they’re kinda generous. You can, in fact, get through most of the game’s content with all the free characters that you get (that includes multiplayer), and the only thing you’ll really need to spend on here is time. At the same time, whenever you have even regular system maintenance, you can actually expect them to give you primogems (the game’s gacha system currency) in addition to when they announce some changes like character bug fixes (even if you never experienced them yourself). The last time I played an MMORPG, the best I got from a bug fix was a notification, not the chance for a new playable character or a weapon for one of my characters. (And while it’s still gambling for sure, even the worst weapons from the gacha system can be useful for newbies and they can be used as refinement material for weapons you do want… plus from my personal experience, I sometimes prefer using these relatively trash weapons because their abilities can sometimes be better than the ATK boost they give, so it doesn’t really feel like a loss).
    1. Because gacha systems in general are mostly about the waifus (playable female characters), the fact that they also have husbandos (playable male characters) expands on the marketability of the product, and the fact that each character can contribute to the overall team meta in their own way, makes you actually want to participate in it even though as mentioned you can get by without spending a single primogem.

When was the last time you had a free to play MMORPG that wasn’t an MMORPG and delivered a decent narrative within a gorgeous world using a cast of playable characters who both looked good and kicked serious butt, and that technically paid you to wait for them to finish doing maintenance and stuff?

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