Bottom line: Like them or hate them, free-to-play games with microtransactions are big money makers. Genshin Impact is one that is making copious amounts of money. The game has only been out for less than two years and has already made Chinese developer miHoYo more than $3 billion, and its popularity is continuing to grow.
According to analytics firm Sensor Tower, Genshin Impact dwarfed its competition by raking in $567 million in Q1 2022 alone, with an active user count that grew by 44 percent year over year. It made its first billion within six months from launch. For comparison, it took Pokémon Go nine months to make $1 billion.
While the revenue stream has slowed somewhat since launch, continued popularity has analysts forecasting Genshin Impact to average $2 billion per year for the foreseeable future. To put that in perspective, if Microsoft could recoup that much money from its $7.5 billion Bethesda purchase, it would see a positive ROI in less than four years.
The game is practically viral in China, with nearly one-third of its earnings ($973.3 million) on iOS coming from Chinese players. But Genshin Impact's appeal has been spreading worldwide as the game ages, thanks to frequent expansions and content additions.
Indeed, my daughter's latest obsession — and that of many of her friends — is Genshin Impact, and I can see the draw. While some have described it as a Breath of the Wild clone, it looks more like a gorgeous interactive anime in my limited time with the game. Either way, it's becoming very popular with 12- to 15-year-olds in the West.