Whenever Genshin Impact is mentioned by the gaming community, the comments are normally regarding it being an overly simple, money grabbing gatcha game which only exists to milk money out of people to get decent characters. Is that fair? Well, in my opinion, no. During my time as a World of Warcraft player, I learnt well what money grabbing means. Like a game already supported by a subscription, conveniently increasing levelling difficulty and time taken, at the same time as releasing new armours sets, only unlockable by levelling new races from what was then level 1 -100; fancy buying a character boost anyone? Along with the numerous other money milking schemes Blizzard’s employed before and since. So, when I say that I don’t see Genshin Impact specifically as a money grabbing game, that’s not me being nice. I’m more than happy to call out such practices as I see it.
I’m not about to deny that Genshin Impact has a great potential for players to spend real money in game. Far greater than a lot purchased or subscription games. However, it is a free to play game and the money for its support and continued development does have to come from somewhere. I, personally, have been playing the game on an off since September 2021 and I have never spent a penny. More importantly, I have not at any point felt pressured by the game to spend money. Most free games will attract whale players, these are the type of player who would prefer to pay money to unlock content quicker rather than grind for the content. The point with Genshin Impact is that you can’t directly buy characters for real money. You can buy Genesis Crystals which can then be converted to Primogems at a ratio of 1 to 1 and then you would convert the Primogems to Wishes at the ratio of 160 to 1. However, Primogems can also be earned for free, just by playing the game. The chance of getting a specific gatcha character from a wish purchased by paid for wishes or earned wishes is exactly the same.
I hear the cries of but if you pay for extra Primogems above what a free player earns then you get more rolls on a character and therefore have a higher chance of getting that character, right? True, certain characters are only made available for a couple of weeks at a time due to the games “Banner” system. However, the desire to pay out to get a specific character, in my opinion, reflects a certain type of person and not dictation by the game. If you look at most Genshin Impact character ranking lists, they mostly include comments along the lines of, most characters are predominately equal and can be made into powerful members of a group, if geared properly or supported by characters of a certain element. For example, in the last banner, I was using my wishes to try and get the Raiden Shogun character. I didn’t get the character, as I ran out of time on the banner. However, I won a 5 star character on the next banner and got Keqing, another 5 star electro character, completely by chance, who fitted into my team just as well as the Raiden Shogun character would have. There are also free characters for most elements and the main player character which can change between a number of elements, once you unlock the elements by progressing in the game.
In a tactical sense, I can see no reason to get hung up on “Needing” a certain character for your team. An effective team can be built by whichever characters you are lucky enough to unlock by chance, as long as you think of the synergy of the group. For me, the main part of the skill in playing the game is in knowing which elements and characters work well together and which don’t. Also, if you do want to target a certain character then the sympathy system can be used to your advantage. Every 90 wishes you are guaranteed a 5 star drop, as long as you haven’t had one yet within those 90 wishes. Also on the temporary banners, if you don’t get the featured character with one 5 star drop then you are guaranteed the feature character on the next 5 star drop, for same or even a different temporary banner. So, by using your wishes tactically and holding 90 wishes back for a sympathy 5 star drop in addition to your sympathy featured character guarantee, it would allow you to get a definite drop on a certain 5 star character, it just requires planning and patience. I did this to get Albedo for my main team.
My point is that while some players may want to pay real money for higher chances of getting what they believe to be are the best characters in the game, there really is no need to do so in order to progress in or enjoy the game. The game has quite a slow difficulty curve, giving you plenty of time to gather a good group and level and outfit them before you hit a difficulty wall. There is no need to have a full 5 star team early in the game, or even late in the game, if you work on your group composition and not just fill a group with your story favourites. While I see no issues at all with players who want a certain character, paying for extra chances of getting them, as long as they can afford it. I can’t see that the game itself forces this behaviour.
Certainly, the developer’s decision to have a lot of characters available only for a couple of weeks at a time, through their rotational banner system, could trigger some people to panic buy, but this tactic is used in all sorts of industries. Retail has black Friday. Lots of products release limited additions, including clothing and shoe retailers. Who might only release a certain number, so they can charge more. I don’t see the tactic of limited availability as being free to play game limited. Genshin Impact does keep quite quiet, in game, about the banner deadlines. You have to visit the in game store to see how much time there is left on a character banner. If they were truly trying to get people to panic buy, they would assault players with a message such as “Only 4 days to left to claim … Get them now before they’re gone!” Genshin Impact does not do this.
My personal opinion is that Genshin Impact is a free game and so needs a way other than game purchase price or required subscription to raise the revenue to support the game. In terms of the pursuit of revenue generation, I’ve honestly seen worst behaviour from some up front purchase and subscription based games, such as those by EA or Blizzard. Yes, people who are prone to gambling issues could get themselves in trouble with the wish system, but so could they with the loot boxes available across many titles, a lot of which have also charged for the game as well.
Genshin Impact certainly isn’t a game for everyone. For those who like to collect everything, playing it would likely only lead to disappointment or an empty bank account; but that is just how the game works. You don’t need all the characters and all the weapons to make progress or enjoy the game, and the game does not actively encourage that behaviour either. Trying to collect everything, would be like trying to get every available card for Magic the Gathering, also a very expensive endeavour. I’ve never heard of MtG being described as money grabbing. I find Genshin Impact a charming, well-made game which I can unwind playing. I recognise that games cannot be developed and supported for free. I think, Genshin Impact strikes a good balance in making money and delivering fun, engaging gameplay.