China's mobile game Genshin Impact bags $4bn

China's mobile game Genshin Impact bags $4bn

Genshin Impact
Genshin Impact

Genshin Impact, the video game launched by Shanghai studio miHoYo in September 2020, bagged US$4 billion in global revenue by the end of 2022 to make it one of the most successful mobile titles of all time and marking the rise of China-developed games.

The game has achieved "long-term success in major mobile game countries", according to a December report by United States application analytics firm Sensor Tower. Nearly two thirds of the revenue was generated outside China with Japan, the United States and South Korea as the top three overseas markets.

Separately, Genshin Impact was also listed as the "most discussed game" on Twitter by garnering 12,571 tweets and nearly 4 million retweets throughout 2022, according to data from United Kingdom-based market research firm The amount of retweets was more than the combined number of the next three games on the list - Final Fantasy XIV, Elden Ring and Splatoon 3.

The success of Genshin Impact has showcased the potential for Chinese mobile games to win over global players when the domestic gaming market remains sluggish due to tough regulatory controls and weak consumer spending.

The strong overseas revenue generated by Chinese games such as Honour of Kings and PUBG Mobile, two of Tencent Holdings' most-lucrative titles, has opened a new source of foreign income for the world's second-largest economy.

The revenue from Genshin Impact, an anime-style action role-playing game, alone was almost equivalent to China's total revenue from exports of washing machines last year. China booked US$2.6 billion in revenue from exporting 19 million units of washing machines in the first 11 months of 2022, according to China's customs data.

Genshin Impact racked up US$1 billion within six months after launch, three months faster than Pokemon Go achieved. On its second anniversary this September, it had seen 37.3 million downloads in the year, a decrease of only 7% compared to the same period last year.

"There are many reasons why Genshin Impact has been able to gain worldwide popularity," Yena You, a strategist at Sensor Tower, wrote in the report. "Beyond simple translation of in-game content, localisation was more meticulously tailored to each region, such as casting famous voice actors in each region for dubbing." Periodic updates and release of new characters have also been key to its continued success, she added.

China-developed games were a bright spot in year-end awards at Apple's App Store and the Google Play store. In Google Play's annual list of tops apps in 2022, Genshin Impact won the Best Ongoing game award, along with other Chinese winners including Dislyte by Shanghai-based Lilith Games and Tower of Fantasy by Shenzhen-listed Perfect World.

Chinese video game companies are on their way to exerting more influence over non-Chinese games, by taking ownership, holding shares or reaching partnership deals with global developers. Tencent, for instance, has acquired a 20% stake in South Korean studio Shift Up, creator of hit game Goddess of Victory: Nikke, South Korean media reported last month.

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