When Genshin Impact was announced last year, there was a lot of comparisons to the Nintendo exclusive Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. They're both open world, they both have cell shading style graphics, and they both emphases exploration.
The biggest difference between the two games is Genshin is free-to-play with a "gacha" style system. "Gacha" is basically a loot box system where you spend money or in game currency for your chance at rewards. "Gacha" style games are very popular in Japan with their highest grossing games using this style of monetization.
Despite Genshin Impact being a Chinese developed game, it use a gacha mechanic. Unlike other free-to-pay games with this style, where it will constantly hit you with paywalls, Genshin Impact doesn't. The entire game is open to you and the only thing locked behind a paywall are the characters.
However, one of the greatest things that Genshin Impact does that no other free-to-play game does. It doesn't harass you for money. Instead, this game rewards you for literally everything you do. Open a chest, get in game currency, complete a quest, in game currency, defeat a boss, yes you get in game currency.
By just playing the game, you are being rewarded with the currency you need to purchase a "wish". Wishes are the loot boxes of this game, they will reward you with characters & weapons and while certain characters are harder to get, due to the percentage chance of obtaining them, you can get lucky with your wishes. There is also a "pity system" in place. If you are getting back luck with your rolls, the game will guarantee you a 5-star weapon or character.
It's still very early in the release, having only been released in NA for about 2 weeks now. Despite that, it has already generated $100m in revenue. This makes it the most successful original IP launch from a Chinese developer ever.
MiHoYo has already announced two major content updates planned for this year alone, along with some new characters to boot.
Could Genshin Impact be the change that was very desperately needed for free-to-play games to succeed in North America? A lot of Triple A games already use a monetization system similar to the one Genshin uses. Could we see a major shift in that in the future?
It's still very early to tell, but it seems that MiHoYo has hit it out of the park with this one. If they can keep this momentum going, this game could be a huge head turn for all the Triple A developers out there.