Why Genshin Impact is losing its draw
Their Google Play Store ratings went from 4.5 stars to 1.9 within hours on Sep 29.
Genshin Impact celebrated its one-year anniversary on Sep 28. What was supposed to be a joyous event, however, turned sour real quick.
For a game that received nominations for the Best Role-Playing Game and Best Mobile Game awards in 2020, the fall out was surprising. Players were unhappy with the stingy anniversary rewards and took to the Google Play Store to bomb reviews on the app, and ratings dropped to as low as 1.9 stars.
Other games under the Chinese company behind Genshin Impact, miHoYo, were dragged into the saga as well. Some angry fans even left reviews on apps that had nothing to do with gaming, such as Google Classroom.
For those who aren’t familiar, Genshin Impact grew in popularity within a year of its release due to its gacha system. Like a lottery, players can ‘wish’ for limited edition weapons or characters they want by grinding gacha currency, called Primogems in Genshin Impact.
In response to the review bombing, miHoYo released more rewards over a span of four days as a means to appease raging gamers. They also spent millions on Genshin Impact character-themed Twitter hashflags. However, the damage had already been done and the mood of the event had been ruined.
This anniversary backlash also gave rise to another issue: The community’s enjoyment of the game. As a game that once promised a 10-year roadmap, players have started to feel burnt out in just a year.
One such player is 20-year-old Julian Lo, who started last year with his peers. While he admitted that the game was fun at first, it now feels more like a daily grind to him and continues to play it because of his friends.
Julian used to spend up to two hours a day on Genshin Impact, though he spends significantly less time on the game now. He was among the many players who were disappointed with the rewards, and began contemplating his daily dedication to the game.
“The feeling of the new product has faded… The anniversary rewards make us not like the game because they feel selfish and unrewarding,” Julian said.
Like Julian, 19-year-old Stephanie Lim also started playing Genshin Impact around Oct 2020, and also agrees with the dying appeal of the game, though for not the same reasons.
As a high-ranking player, Stephanie is at the late stage of the game where most content has been covered. She has been delaying completing her quests to try and keep herself interested in the game, but has instead found herself feeling fatigued with the game’s repetitive storytelling.
“Since the game has so many characters, doing story quests or even the main quests can also get quite repetitive, and usually I find myself putting them off even if I have spare time to play,” she said.
Like Julian, Stephanie used to spend about two hours every day on Genshin Impact too. Now, she spends only 30 minutes on the game daily, and occasionally, up to two hours when she’s completing a quest in the game.
However, some fans remain loyal to the game despite the resounding negativity.
When 19-year-old Claresta Ee first started the game, she spent up to four hours on it a day. At times, she stayed up till the wee hours just so she could clear some quests.
As Genshin Impact was the first time she played an RPG, Claresta was easily pulled into the beauty of its open-world concept, describing that attraction as “almost magnetic.”
Unlike Julian and Stephanie, Claresta disagrees that Genshin Impact is losing its draw, though she notes one of the game’s biggest shortcomings is its ability to retain players between cycles of major updates.
“As a game with an open-world concept, most players are drawn to the feeling of exploration and won’t stop until they have travelled all corners of the world. However, many players tend to quickly explore every area and leave whenever there is nothing else left,” she explained.
As such, without new areas to explore, those that only look forward to the game’s open-world concept may begin to lose interest, according to Claresta.
Another reason for the game’s dying appeal may be its premium content as well. To free-to-play (F2P) players, the game has become exclusively enjoyable to those who spend on it, where “premium currency is scarce and the work it takes to earn it is equivalent to a part-time job,” according to Julian.
Similarly, Stephanie said: “Even though Genshin is a free game and you can clear content without having to pay at all, there comes a point where at a high level it becomes difficult to earn gacha currency, and gacha is where most of my endgame enjoyment comes in.”
But where Julian and Stephanie have never spent money in the game before, Claresta has spent over $100 – money she earned from her part-time job – to obtain the characters she wants.
Though Claresta believes that she still would have enjoyed the game if she did not spend money, she feels doing so allowed her to obtain the characters she wants easily rather than depending on the gacha system. She also feels it’s a worthy investment as it improved her overall experience with the game.
Perhaps one’s enjoyment of the game is dependent on how much is spent on it. Money can’t buy happiness, but maybe it draws out the game’s appeal for just a bit longer.