https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gZ8JRRNPz4 David Baszucki was born in Canada, he graduated from Stanford University as a General Motors Scholar in Electrical Engineering in 1985. 4 years after his graduation, David founded an educational software company called Knowledge…
Genshin Impact has been a global blockbuster since its release, having generated $1 billion in just its first six months from the App Store and Google Play. It is the fastest game title to hit the $1 billion milestone in player spending, surpassing titles like Pokemon GO.
If we add up the revenue generated from PC and PlayStation, Genshin Impact is possibly the world’s top grossing game in the world right now. You would have thought that the anime role-playing action game is originated from Japan, but it is actually started by three otakus in China.
Liu Wei, Chai Haoyu, Luo Yuhao are the co-founders of miHoYo, the company behind Genshin Impact. Three of them graduated from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, they are all otakus (as in recluse) and share the same interest in ACG (Animation, Comics, Games).
While Chai is the key person who is also the largest shareholder and the current President, Liu is the CEO – the face of the company. They started miHoYo Studio in the university in 2011, launching the first game – Fly me 2 the moon in the same year on the App Store with little success.
When miHoYo participated in a start-up competition in 2011, Liu presented the culture of otaku and ACG but he was being ridiculed by the judges.
Our core product is an anime-themed mobile game. It is a gameplay on smartphones or tablets based on anime-style characters. As the characters are mainly cute anime girls, this kind of game is popular among the otakus (recluse).
Therefore, our core users are otakus. We understand otakus because we ourselves are otakus! Besides the interesting gameplay, gamers can develop their own virtual characters, and also their virtual idols.
A judge asked: “When you reach 40 years old, what will be your positioning, will your company still develop games for otakus?”
I mentioned earlier that our target users will be otakus, and otakus’ age range is from 16 to 39 years old.
Liu & co did win the third prize, the judges who laughed that day wouldn’t have imagined miHoYo would become a global phenomenon.
miHoYo company was officially established in 2012, they made an important decision to focus on ACG and launched Zombiegal Kawaii.
When we started working on ACG 10 years ago in 2011, we can be considered as one of the pioneers. We have never thought of how ACG can become so sizable like today.
Being the ACG fans ourselves, and we were not the only ones, we had a simple goal back then. At least there were some like-minded people like us out there. It’s not that bad if we were just to service this group of people.
In the same year the company was established, miHoYo received USD150,000 angel investment from Sky-Mobi for a 15% stake in the company. The investment was a masterstroke but it was at a time when nobody believed in them and ACG in general, it is still the only investment miHoYo had accepted to date.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing though, Zombiegal Kawaii wasn’t really successful which got them pondering what it takes to launch a successful commercial product.
It (2013) was a time when we felt lost and anxious. We couldn’t clearly see the direction for our business. We took money from our angel investor but we couldn’t make much money.
But there was no turning back for us. We paid ourselves a salary of USD620, but our ex-schoolmates can easily earn much more than us, in the range of USD1,500 to USD3,000.
However, we opted to believe and continue what we were doing. We had a motivational quote back then.
“Dream does not come before persistence; It is because of our persistence we can realize our dream”. This belief has motivated us to work through our toughest times.
Their persistence paid off when the sequel Guns GirlZ enjoyed great success in 2014, coinciding with the booming of ACG in China. miHoYo made the right decision to work with Bilibili on the game distribution, when the “B Site” was accumulating a huge base of ACG users.
Within 3 years, Guns GirlZ had generated a revenue of USD150 million, which was a remarkable feat for a team of seven. miHoYo then invested heavily in R&D and launched another 3D sequel Honkai Impact 3rd in 2016 to great success.
Riding on the series success, miHoYo attempted to go public in China but its over-reliance on the series, a single IP, was being questioned. It was probably one of the reasons why miHoYo started to focus its firepower to work on another IP, which eventually became Genshin Impact today.
Besides, miHoYo has set a strategy to launch a new key product every 3-4 years, which must fit the criteria of “something new, something exciting, something out of imagination”.
When Genshin Impact was revealed in 2019, the role-playing game’s similarities to Nintendo’s Zelda: Breath of the Wild sparked controversies. miHoYo issued a letter to the gamers admitting Zelda is one of the games that inspired them.
Interestingly, miHoYo opted not to distribute Genshin Impact via the Chinese Android app store through Huawei, Xiaomi etc. which impose a 50-50 revenue share. The direct distribution strategy didn’t handicap Genshin Impact’s official launch in 2020, and it became super popular not just in China, but many parts of the world.
It is reported that only 29% of its revenue is generated from China, followed by 28% from Japan, 18% from US, and others from the rest of the world.
The miHoYo team has grown to 2,400 people in 2020, with 700 of them working on Genshin Impact. miHoYo revealed that they invested USD100 million to develop Genshin Impact, and will invest USD200 million yearly to continuously improve the game.
Gamers love the open world with humanistic design in Genshin Impact, a place where they enjoy the freedom to adventure in the virtual world. The experience is like an extension to their real life, a world designed by the otakus, for the otakus.