Genshin Impact raked in over $3 billion from mobile players in less than two years, according to the latest report from analytics firm Sensor Tower.
The free-to-play game is on pace to earn its Chinese developer miHoYo an average of $2 billion—or more than one-fourth of a Bethesda (which sold to Microsoft for $7.5 billion in 2020)—every year. What do numbers even mean anymore?
Even more astounding is the speed with which Genshin Impact was able to amass this fortune. It only took the Breath of the Wild-style gacha game six months following its September 2020 global launch to accrue its first billion dollars, three months faster than the augmented-reality monster-hunting of Pokémon Go.
As for 2022, Genshin Impact earned $567 million in Q1, more than double its closest competitor. And it doesn’t look like it’ll be slowing down any time soon: Sensor Tower also reports that active users are up 44 percent since this same time last year.
Genshin Impact’s success is in large part thanks to its overwhelming popularity with Chinese players, who are apparently responsible for just over 30 percent of the game’s earnings on iOS, or around $973.3 million. It’s so beloved in the country that a 2021 collaboration with Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants was shut down at locations in Shanghai and Hangzhou due to the massive crowds violating China’s covid-19 restrictions at the time.
It’s easy to assume the inherent predation of the gacha format is the driving factor behind these unbelievable earnings. I don’t doubt that Genshin Impact attracts its own gambling-addicted whales, dropping stacks of real cash in the hopes of unlocking their favorite goat girl or angel boy. But from the outside looking in, it does appear as if casual players are at least getting their money’s worth thanks to miHoYo’s frequent content updates and expansions.
In any case, game big. Number go up. Money fake. That’s the breadth of my business analysis.