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How Genshin Impact Went From Zelda Clone To Finger Lickin' Good

The redemption arc of the award-winning RPG title Genshin Impact is arguably one of the most tumultuous ones the gaming community has seen in years. Since Chinese developer miHoYo released the initial trailers for the open-world game, Genshin Impact has seen its fair share of backlash (while also earning plenty of dedicated fans).


In March 2021, fans of the game lined up outside of KFCs in China to nab a pin badge as part of a collaboration between the fast food chain and Genshin Impact. Of course, this happened in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to police sending the crowds home. It's hard to ignore the game's rise to the top at this point. 

Everything started back in 2019 when the game's first trailer was released and immediately compared to Nintendo's Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. From there, Genshin Impact grew into a massive game with millions of fans.

The Breath of the Wild clone claims

The game was mocked for being a Breath of the Wild clone from the very beginning. The announcement trailer from miHoYo was met with comments comparing the two games, and it was easy to see why people would think the game was a total knock-off. In the first 15 seconds, the developers essentially recreated the famous Breath of the Wild opening scene that knocked the socks off of Zelda fans. 


Commenters were quick to point out every similarity that could be found, like the color scheme, stamina system, enemies, towns, and the art style to name a few. One Twitter user shared a comparison video between actions in both games, making it difficult to deny the similarities between Genshin Impact and Breath of the Wild.

People weren't just upset, they were irate. When Sony announced that the game would be coming to PlayStation, Zelda fans were quick to protest. One fan smashed his PS4, and countless others held their Nintendo Switch or copy of Breath of the Wild in the air at the Genshin Impact booth.

The massively successful release

Despite the intense protests, Genshin Impact had a record-breaking launch. According to video game industry analyst Daniel Ahmad, the game was downloaded 17 million times in four days. The success wasn't just seen in downloads, however. The first week of the game's official release saw an estimated $50 million of revenue, which jumped up to $400 million in the first two months


In less than two weeks, the game became the most successful original IP released from China, making $100 million in that time span. As Ahmad pointed out on Twitter, "engagement drives monetisation," a fact that certainly rang true for moHoYo. Releasing on the PS4, mobile devices, and PC, the game saw unprecedented success, leading to miHoYo's announcement that the game would eventually make its way to the Nintendo Switch. 

Comparatively, Genshin Impact actually blew Breath of the Wild's release out of the water. However, that didn't guarantee that the game would continue raking in money and fans like it did in the beginning.

Keeping fans invested

Months after the official release and even longer since the open-beta, Genshin Impact has seen nothing but more success. The game's notoriety attracted players, but miHoYo's constant updates kept them playing. These updates to the game have doubled the map size, introduced a variety of new characters in the game, and held in-game events to reward players.  According to figures from ActivePlayer.io, the game has seen an almost constant increase in concurrent player counts.


Genshin Impact has created a name for itself with these updates. With new gameplay features regularly being added into the game and an expanding, immersive storyline that stands alone from Breath of the Wild, it's no longer just known as the Zelda clone. It's no longer even directly competing with Breath of the Wild. It's the kind of game that fans love so much, they'll line up for blocks outside of a KFC, just so they can get some exclusive merchandise.