It has been several months since I uninstalled the weeaboo pyramid scheme that is Genshin Impact from my PS5. I was a regular player ever since its release, drawn into its Breath of the Wild-esque gameplay, compelling worldbuilding, and beautiful cast of anime characters. On paper, it was a game that felt made for me, but it was also one that understood all the most cynical ways to exploit my worst impulses. So I pulled myself away and never looked back.
Ever since my teenage years I’ve had an addictive personality, and will spend money or jump through hoops to obtain things in games like Genshin Impact or Overwatch even if I’m not in a position to do so financially. That doesn’t matter, I’ll worry about the consequences later as I spend precious pennies on primogems or loot boxes to earn a hero or skin that will elude me forever unless I find a way to earn it right now. I could grind the hours away, but I don’t have the attention span for such a task when I know there’s an easier way out. Genshin Impact knows that too, which is the most sickening part of all this.
I’m not going to say how much money I’ve spent on Genshin Impact, I’m not sure if I even know off the top of my head, but I do know all of it was thrown away for the wrong reasons. Mihoyo has built a gorgeous fictional world and an overarching narrative to accompany it, but all of these achievements are undermined by a gacha system that makes its characters the stars above all else. Whenever a new update rolls around we aren’t talking about a new region or where the questline will take us next, we’re simping over new character designs and mourning all the primogems we’ll need to earn to stand a chance at rolling them.
This isn’t fun, we aren’t sinking hours into Genshin Impact for any real sense of satisfaction or enjoyment, we’re abiding by the whims of an anime girl slot machine that doesn’t give a fuck how we end up feeling at the end of it all. If anything, the odds are always stacked against us as we’re encouraged to spend money or complete quests to earn primogems instead of losing ourselves in the world that’s been built here. I learned this a long time ago but kept coming back, my social media teasing countless heroes I’d love to have joined my roster. I wasn’t even using them, I was throwing money away to roll them and bathe in the temporary high before never touching them again. The game wasn’t what I was here for, just a gacha system that preyed on my addictive insecurities.
So I went cold turkey, uninstalled the game, and I told myself I’d never touch it again. I’m thankful that unless you’re keeping up with each new update, Genshin Impact is more than happy to leave lapsed players behind as they become buried in an avalanche of missions and lore to catch up on. New character banners and optional activities remain the same however, so it feels like the game is designed to keep us immersed in its corrupt ecosystem for as long as possible until, like me, you give up and bow out entirely.
I understand why people love this game, even more so when the gameplay systems and open world structure are so generous for a free-to-play effort, arguably setting a new benchmark in the genre when it comes to quality and breadth of content that can be accessed without spending a penny. All you need to do is dedicate yourself to the grind until the FOMO becomes too much and you end up giving into its gacha hellscape. Some people spend months saving up primogems only to spunk them on a specific banner as part of one massive bender, almost guaranteeing a free legendary drop through quantity alone.
That still has the same problems though - you’ve spent goodness knows how much time earning this meaningless currency, only to throw it away in a vain hope that the underlying systems don’t screw you over. You’re either left elated or devastated, with little room for interpretation once the thrill has faded away, and you’re expected to do it all over again.
Mihoyo became an industry juggernaut through creating gorgeous worlds and fun gameplay mechanics held hostage by a gacha system that remains one of the worst in the business. It could make profits through an increased reliance on cosmetics or a battle pass that isn't complete garbage (it currently only serves to draw more attention to the existence of primogems and other currencies used to roll characters). It all comes back to a singular focus, and once that became clear I had no choice but to call it quits.
Genshin Impact is a good game, perhaps even great, but it’s also a dangerous one that I will never play again if I can help it. Gacha is the devil and it walks among us.