Genshin Impact has indeed become this year’s Chinese bombshell. It’s reportedly the biggest international launch of a Chinese-produced video game to date, drawing over 17 million downloads and grossing approximately $60 million within the first week of its release.
And just a little over a month after its launch, MiHoYo is releasing its very first major update: update 1.1. Since the update is rolling out today, November 11, let us just be the little angel on your shoulder that reminds you to “Gacha Responsibly.”
Demystifying Genshin Impact’s gacha system
To be fair, Genshin Impact is an enjoyable and beautiful game. It has an amazingly gigantic world for something that you can render and play on your phone, and it features such adorable and well-designed characters you can’t help but love and get attached to.
Enter gacha, a monetization mechanic wherein players spend to open boxes or packs, or collect items, cards, and characters. Despite the fact that Genshin Impact’s main gameplay is an open-world RPG, the whole world is very much ruled by its gacha mechanics. Don’t get me wrong. I think it should be mentioned that Genshin Impact has outstanding free content. Compared to games featuring in-game currency that’s impossible to buy without spending real money, all of Genshin Impact’s content can actually be acquired through hard work—a.k.a. tireless farming.
Still, it needs to be acknowledged that the endgame is pretty much broken, that by the higher Adventure Ranks, you will be forced to open your wallet to make some decent advancements (this pretty much needs an article of its own but if you’re reading this and you’re at least AR 35, you know what we’re talking about). But before you get to this point, Genshin Impact does offer amazing free content. That fact alone sets it apart as a true mobile gem of its time.
However, it should also be mentioned that Genshin Impact has one of the most merciless gacha rates. A decent 4-star character has a depressing 5.1% drop rate, while the coveted 5-star characters have a staggering 0.6% drop rate. Genshin tries to apologize by employing a pity system, where you can get a sure 5-star drop on your 90th wish. It’s pretty bad, especially if you consider the fact that you want more than one of a specific character to make him or her stronger.
The gacha addiction
Honestly, who can resist the lure of spending a couple of bucks to increase your chances of getting a 5-star character? I myself have already spent P249 for the Blessing of the Welkin Moon, which I think is such a great deal because I’ve basically been playing this game for free for a month now.
While I can deal with the “not getting as far ahead as everyone,” not everyone can be as chill with their mobile games. Many get competitive, envious, and then eventually sucked into the horrors of the game’s gacha. One Redditor said he spent $2,400 maxing out Venti, while YouTuber Mtashed quit last month after spending $5,440 on the game.
If you find yourself spending money that you don’t have (hello, credit cards!), just don’t. The road to gacha addiction is a slippery slope.
And it’s not just Genshin Impact. Many games with gacha mechanics have lured countless of gamers into this addiction. Gacha is basically virtual gambling. You put in money in the hopes that the RNG gods will grant you your desired character, weapon, or skin. IGN wrote last year about 39-year-old Ruth, who cut off her credit cards after spending more than five figures (in dollars!) on a variety of gacha games. Two years ago, there was also Joseph, who came to Reddit to talk about his addiction to Fire Emblem Heroes, which cost him $700 a month for almost a year.
Gacha gambling can be a real addiction—and the truth is, there are many others who are getting sucked into this spiraling abyss.
Play to win? Play to enjoy?
Personally, I think it’s okay to spend money on games that you enjoy—especially free-to-play ones like Genshin Impact. Think of it as an investment, a way of thanking the devs for coming up with such an enjoyable game!
The real challenge is knowing the value of your money, and balancing that with how much exactly do you need to shell out to enjoy the game. Genshin Impact, thankfully, is not geared toward PVP (which I pray does not change), so players should not be pressured to pay to win against other people. In the end, you should acknowledge that you’re just playing to win against yourself. So if you spend way too much money that’s more than you can handle, then that’s not winning. You’ve definitely lost to the clutches of gacha gaming.
With Update 1.1 upon us, let me leave this parting message to you, oh fellow traveler:
If you can spend a few hundreds (or even thousands) on a free-to-play game, go through with that microtransaction with a smile on your face. Countless of developers and artists worked hard on that game, so if you like it, let them know that you appreciate their genius.
If you find yourself spending money that you don’t have (hello, credit cards!), just don’t. The road to gacha addiction is a slippery slope, and you’ll find yourself at the bottom of the pit after everyone has moved on to the next big thing, with no money and nothing to show for it. Like, literally, nothing. There’s no economic gain to gacha gambling, hello!
If the RNG gods are not good to you, just stop complaining and close that darn wallet. It just means it’s time to move on, say your goodbyes, and find a new game. No one is holding you hostage to this game but yourself.
And finally, enjoy! Stop drooling over your friends’ lucky pulls. Enjoy what you have, and take that as a challenge to play better with what’s given to you. A true gamer can conquer any odds—even with a puny Amber or Kaeya in their team.