By Lana Sumner-Borema
Video games are for geeks. This concept, according to senior biology and philosophy major Luis Estrada, is what Genshin Impact, a new video game, is all about. The game, released on Sept. 28, 2020, was created by miHOYO, a Chinese game developer. Available on mobile, PC, and PlayStation 4, the game has gained over 12 million players.
Since its release, the developer of the game has coined the phrase: “tech otakus save the world.” Estrada, an avid player of Genshin Impact, says this catch phrase can be roughly translated to, “Nerds save the world.”
According to Estrada, miHOYO was not expecting the game to take off, since it is “a Chinese gacha game that’s trying to make it in a market very saturated by Japanese companies with heavy Western influence.”
The gacha game system, Estrada notes, functions through a version of virtual gambling.
“You [the player] play for a certain amount of currency that you put into the gacha system which is basically a random number generator,” said Estrada. “You then roll and throw your currency into the wind to get a certain character.”
The currency for Genshin Impact, also referred to as Genshin, comes in “primo gems,” which are found by running around the game’s inner world. It takes approximately 160 primo gems to roll for a character once. If the player does not get their desired character, they can pay for that character. This, Estrada explains, can increase player retention for most gacha games.
A player can obtain primo gems daily by completing daily missions. Most players, therefore, sign on to the game at least once a day, even if it’s for a brief amount of time. For Estrada, this is about one hour per day. This consistent playtime required for successful players is one of the reasons for Genshin’s success.
While Estrada is a fan of Genshin, Micah Williams, a computer science junior and member of Barry’s Esports team, is not as committed to the grind of the gacha system.
“I personally abhor games that are ‘pay to win,’” said Williams.
Instead, he plays games which must be bought up front. The only items for sale in the games he plays are used to make “cosmetic changes” on characters. He believes this keeps “a fair environment” for players.
Williams spends forty hours per week playing online multiplayer games. Sometimes, he practices in the Esports room with the team, and others, he streams on Twitch, where he is known as giswa_.
Although Williams doesn’t like Genshin’s gacha system, he can appreciate the game’s graphics. He agrees with Estrada’s claim that the graphics “are comparable to companies with much larger budgets,” despite miHOYO being a relatively small company.
Williams notes that the graphics are more “polished” and “the whole mechanics feel decent.” This, he adds, makes Genshin Impact unique.
Both gamers and non-gamers alike can appreciate the success of a small company within an array of bigger developers. In fact, many movie producers and media studios have held their long-awaited new releases for fear that their products would not do as well as they could during the pandemic. Genshin Impact has proved the opposite.
For those who have never played in the gacha system before, Williams and Estrada both recommend giving the grind a shot.