Genshin Impact has made a $5bn bed on mobile, but will it last?
When Genshin Impact was first announced back in 2019 few people expected the game would turn out to be such a mega-hit. In fact, the thing most people seemed to be concerned about was comparing it to another major title, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But now, nearly five years on, Genshin Impact arguably sits at the pinnacle of mobile gaming; even bringing in players who’d otherwise never consider using their smartphone for games.
Even with the release of HoYoverse's follow-up, and other developers following suit with open-world 3D action RPGs, Genshin Impact has managed to continue bringing in players, albeit with a slight drop in monthly revenue. But that hasn’t stopped the game from hitting another significant milestone, surpassing $5bn in lifetime revenue and becoming the fastest-ever mobile game to do so, according to new information from research firm Data.ai. That’s faster than Clash of Clans, which took roughly seven years to reach $4bn!
So why has Genshin Impact continued to bring in players, and more importantly, money? And regardless of players, is it slipping behind in other areas?
Still playing? Y/NThe most important thing to remember is that, regardless of how well Genshin has continued to grow, just focusing on player count can be a bit of an inexact science and a relatively recent phenomenon. Many landmark titles have persisted well after their peak and have gone on not only to influence game development and design but also to continue bringing back players both old and new. Games like Thief, Might & Magic, and even the older Elder Scrolls and Fallout games all slipped into the background but are still remembered fondly and inspire both players and developers to this day.
But okay, we’re not just talking about games in general, we’re talking about pseudo-multiplayer RPGs like Genshin specifically, right? Well, as a lot of people have pointed out, that discussion can be just as heated and misaimed. Maybe it’s the afterglow of Call of Duty and Halo, with their millions upon millions of peak players, that makes people overestimate just how many players a game needs to stay alive.
All of which is to say, despite having been around for almost half a decade now, Genshin Impact still has more than enough players to keep it healthy. Although it may be facing internal competition from Honkai Star Rail, which itself has begun syphoning off the game’s revenue. Despite post-Covid corrections, we’ve seen players continue to grow, but not quite spending at the level they once did. But this latest milestone shows that long term, Genshin has remained a money spinner.
Will it last?But, back to the question, and the answer is…yes, maybe. We originally looked into this assuming Genshin must have been slipping away in terms of players, as you might expect after nearly half a decade of service. And we were surprised to see so many saying the opposite, although we should also note that most of the player counts are all estimates (remember what we said about the player-count obsession being a recent thing? Well, it's also hard to get concrete numbers). Yet it’s undeniable that Genshin has inspired a wave of competitors and that competition continues to grow month on month and year after year.
Indeed, money talks, and while Genshin has passed a huge milestone it remains a potential concern that HoYoverse will slowly wind down support for the game. Not completely, but focusing on newer, more potent projects. With Honkai Star Rail surpassing it in terms of monthly revenue, it offers a potential path forward for them to move on and let Genshin mature with fewer updates. It’d probably take a few more years at least, but gaming has nothing if not an obsession with the 'new'.
More than mobileIndeed, what Genshin did is arguably inspire many of the more positive things we see in gaming today. Yes, sure, we can criticise the gacha aspects and the ludicrous amounts some players drop. But the idea of a cross-platform game that you can play on console and mobile, with cross-progression meaning that your saves persist no matter what platform you use in any given session, is still something the game helped popularise. But, arguably, the portability and approachability of mobile has been its strongest selling point, as reflected by these numbers.
So, really it’s hard to think of it as ‘just being’ a mobile game. But even if you’re not a fan or a player it’s hard to deny the impact it’s had on the industry; for better or worse. And it’s hard to say that it’s dead or dying when it continues to rake in the cash and players for parent company HoYoverse. But even so, its peak in terms of revenue may soon be over…
What do you think? Still playing Genshin? Still, enjoying it? Or have you moved on to something else? Let us know in the comments!