Multilayered Gacha Game Dominates Global Industry

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Graphic edited by Laura Renfroe; photo courtesy Genshin Impact

Role-playing game Genshin Impact is the total package, featuring thrilling battle gameplay, relaxing aesthetic sceneries, and multi-talented voice actors.

Laura Renfroe, Staff Writer

It’s late afternoon in the city of Liyue and everything seems to be overflowing with culture and gold. Towering ribbons draped from the pavilions and pastel blue glaze lilies adorned the sidewalks in celebration of the great Adeptus Rex Lapis’s return. Despite the gilded aura of the city, things were not so mirthful. 

Smoldering guards poked their spears at Lumine, their fear masked by their heavy armors. The ethereal golden dragon had crashed from the sky moments earlier, sending the people of Liyue into utter panic. This mystic creature was their Adeptus (Chinese: 仙人, meaning a magical or godlike being) and, suddenly, it was dead. Exits sealed, now everyone at the rite became suspects.

Lumine prepared to draw her sword when suddenly a tall figure stepped between her and the angered guards. In his hand the stranger gripped daggers of water, their deep blue aqueous tips slashing out at the startled guards. Eyes concealed behind his ginger hair, the man looked back at Lumine cooly, a snarky grin stretching across his face as the guards collapsed to the ground behind him with one heaving sweep of his weapon.

“Come with me,” he motioned upwards with his head as more guards poured in from the steps. 

Lumine took a sharp breath and rushed after the stranger. What had she gotten herself into?

•      •      •

Genshin Impact, released in September of 2020, has already amassed over 40 million players and 1.1 million followers on Twitter. To put it simply, the game reigns unstoppable as one of the most successful blockbuster games this year. 

The intricate world of this new game developed by miHoYo stimulates a sense of adventure throughout the many features available to players, from immersive plots to challenging gameplay. To those who try for themselves, it is no wonder how this RPG, or role-playing game, became a global sensation. 

The worldbuilding of Genshin Impact proves to be intoxicating after only a short time of playing the game. Within only a few weeks of navigating the game’s intimate story quests, swashbuckling battles, and nerve-wracking “wish” system, players will find themselves utterly hooked.

The lands of the game stretch across a diverse map for players to explore, worlds carefully crafted with animated visuals from ice-capped peaks to warm meadows dotted with numerous fictional flowers and fruits such as windwheel asters and sunsettias. 

The playable characters of Genshin Impact divide into seven elemental super squads: Hydro (water), Geo (earth), Dendro (nature), Pyro (fire), Cryo (ice), Electro (lightning), and Anemo (wind). Each character represents unique personalities and elaborate character designs.

From the brooding icy persona of Captain Kaeya to the mellow pharmacist Qiqi, gamers learn to appreciate individual character qualities even more as they are represented through varying voice lines and animated mannerisms. 

The accompanying voice actors to the game’s characters truly provide the desired synergy between visuals and personalities. 

Christie Cate and Josey McCoy, both professional voice actors for Qiqi and Kaeya in Genshin Impact, are two superlative examples of bringing vitality to two-dimensional characters. McCoy’s cool and coquettish demeanor suits Kaeya’s authoritative appearance superbly, while Cate’s monotonous delivery suits her character’s zombie role spot on. 

“It’s a blast to voice Kaeya. He’s such a smooth and mysterious guy. It’s always a blast to explore that,” voice actor Josey McCoy told me.

“I love getting the intention behind Kaeya just right, of course. That work is rewarding and fun But some of the funniest moments are when it doesn’t go right. You’ll try something and immediately know it’s wrong. And sharing a laugh with Chris, our director, about those moments is always a good time,” he reflected. 

“I have always loved performing. I grew up doing theatre every summer back in Kentucky. Even with stage acting, I’ve always loved the intention behind the written lines. I love interpreting them, or leaving them up to the audience’s interpretation. Voice acting is like that on another level. The only thing you have is your voice,” McCoy went on. “You’re conveying everything, all of your emotion, verbally. I’m a very expressive person so getting all of that expressiveness into another person or character with only my voice is both thrilling and rewarding. When you get it right.”

Voice actress Christie Cate expressed similar memories, noting how much she enjoyed voicing Qiqi, the lovable zombie Cryo character with bone-white skin and tired eyes. 

“I love voicing Qiqi! When I went in to record for the first time, the English voice director, Chris Faiella, remarked that although Qiqi is monotonous with her delivery, there has to be micro shifts in attitude in order to make it work. He did a great job working with me to make sure that happened. When we were recording, I was laughing at the Cocogoat quest, so I’m glad that it kind of became a meme amongst fans,” Cate stated.

“I just love how you can be anything,” Cate said in regards to voice acting. “I’ve voiced male robots, zombie children, and snooty space squids to name a few. So in essence, the only limit is your own imagination.” 

With the COVID-19 pandemic stealing away opportunities to enjoy our favorite blockbusters in movie theaters, Genshin Impact pushed through at a prime time in the year. Quarantine prompted more home-alone time, and Genshin Impact became the unlikely hype of the season alongside other games including Among Us and Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Genshin requires one overpowering factor for quick game advancement: time. And time is something that some of us have a little too much of these days. 

The game undoubtedly seems to have its enticement methods down to a science. It runs constant innovative character quests and battle opportunities, essentially formulating it to where it is near to impossible for players to run out of things to do.

Gacha games have become increasingly popular recently, offering randomized virtual items which can be purchased by in-game currencies (or, if one gets desperate, this currency can be purchased in bulk with real money.). 

Building an ace team becomes a top priority for lots of players as they seek powerful pairings, elite weapons, and high damage statistics. Gaining new characters is where the gacha system comes in. Gacha is a Japanese term meaning “capsule-toy vending machine,” but the subject of gacha in Genshin operates a bit differently.

The game features a “wish” system, one in which new character banners refresh every few weeks. These banners can be “wished” upon using in-game currencies calling Primogems for the chance to obtain 4 or 5-star weapons or characters.

The appeal perhaps derives from the pure luck factor of the system. The odds of pulling the “cream of the crop” 5-star character in a given Genshin Impact banner is a measly 0.6%. Gamers have estimated that after 90 rolls, the chance of gaining a 5-star is guaranteed due to the game’s “pity” system, an implemented guarantee that player’s will get their money’s worth after a particular amount of rolls.

This looping gacha system has earned Genshin Impact a staggering $6 million a day according to mobile analytics from Sensor Tower. In a time frame of only two months since the September launch, the game amassed $393 million in revenue. And while this controversial marketing strategy can burn through wallets faster than one will care to admit, the game is addicting within itself without the gacha components.

The free-to-play format allows players to fight imposing ice flowers, glide over breathtaking sceneries, and even cook up mouth-watering delicacies from cream stews to crystal shrimps. The colorful art style paired with the avant-garde orchestral accompaniments makes for brilliant immersivity.

“I saw a comment recently that Genshin reminds people of Pokemon in that it has a ‘collect all the cool characters mentality.’ Combined with an open world aesthetic akin to Zelda, free barrier of entry, and fun RPG gameplay seem to be a formula for success,” Cate noted. 

Genshin Impact is assuredly a feast for the senses; the game’s graphics are both picturesque and stimulating. Fans’ adoration for the game proves to be contagious, their unbridled excitement on social media keeping the game running smoothly. 

Unlike many modern games, Genshin can be enjoyed to the fullest extent without ever spending a dime. This new game functions like a well-oiled machine, expanding into the global market through constant media coverage and social media updates. 

“I think Genshin is a game that feels familiar but has such a new, fresh look. We’ve played open world games similar to Genshin, but not with an anime-look, not being able to play as a host of different characters,” Kaeya voice actor McCoy commented. “The combinations you can play with, if you’re lucky to get some characters, is endless. And my fellow voice actors bring each one of those characters to life in such beautiful and natural ways.”

“The amount of work that goes into a game like this is astonishing. From so many different aspects and departments,” McCoy finished.

Featuring astounding aesthetics and addictive gameplay, Genshin Impact continues to prove unstoppable. The possibilities of the game are endless, and in the end players will find themselves with only their imagination, and well, possibly an empty wallet if they get too desperate for that one swoony character.

The game is free to download on smartphone devices and is also available through PlayStation 4 and PC. Besides free time, all players really need to start the game is a little bit of patience and mountains of luck!