The influence of Genshin
Genshin Impact, a video game launched by Shanghai studio miHoYo in September 2020, is set to reach $4 billion in global revenue by the end of 2022, making it one of the most successful mobile titles of all time and marking the rise of games developed in China.
According to a December report by US app analytics firm Sensor Tower, the game has achieved “long-term success in major mobile gaming countries”. Almost two-thirds of the revenue was generated outside China, with Japan, the US and South Korea being the top three overseas markets.
Separately, Genshin Impact was also listed as the “most talked about game” on Twitter, garnering 12,571 tweets and nearly 4 million retweets in 2022, according to UK-based market research firm Fancensus.com. The number of retweets was more than the combined number of the next three games on the list – Final Fantasy XIV, Elden Ring and Splatoon 3.
Genshin Impact’s success has shown the potential of Chinese mobile games to take over global gamers when the domestic gaming market remains sluggish due to tight regulatory controls and low consumer spending.
Strong overseas revenue from Chinese games such as Honor of Kings and PUBG Mobile, two of Tencent Holdings’ top-grossing titles, has opened up a new source of foreign income for the world’s second-largest economy.
Revenue from anime-style action role-playing game Genshin Impact alone was almost equivalent to China’s total revenue from washing machine exports last year. China recorded revenue of $2.6 billion in the first 11 months of 2022 from exporting 19 million units of washing machines, according to Chinese customs data.
Within six months of launch, Genshin Impact raised $1 billion, three months faster than Pokemon Go. On its second anniversary in September of this year, it had 37.3 million downloads, down just 7% from the same period last year.
“There are many reasons why Genshin Impact has been able to gain popularity around the world,” Sensor Tower strategist Yena You wrote in a report. “In addition to the simple translation of game content, the localization was carefully adjusted for each region, such as the selection of famous voice actors in each region for dubbing.” Periodic updates and the release of new characters have also been key to success, she added.
Games developed in China were a bright spot at the year-end awards for the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. In Google Play’s annual top apps list for 2022, Genshin Impact won the award for best ongoing game alongside other Chinese winners, including Shanghai-based Lilith Games’ Dislyte and Shenzhen-listed Perfect World Tower of Fantasy.
Chinese video game companies are on the way to gaining more influence over non-Chinese games by taking ownership, holding shares or partnering with global developers. For example, Tencent has bought a 20% stake in South Korean studio Shift Up, creator of the popular game Goddess of Victory: Nikke, South Korean media reported last month.