After having endured 100 hours of the gacha game, YouTuber Yakkocmn recently condemned Genshin Impact and called for it to be regulated as gambling.
A generally upbeat personality whose content focuses on the best gaming has to offer with a particular focus on video game music, Yakkocmn started on YouTube in 2014 with League of Legends-focused videos before shifting over time to focus on general game reviews.
However, his recent review of Genshin Impact, titled “The Terrifying Success of Genshin Impact,” surprised viewers by offering one of the few dissenting voices against the game.
Though he begins his video by praising Genshin Impact as one of the most popular open-world games of the past decade and “a massive step forward” in what games with gacha mechanics can do, Yakkocmn quickly turns to voicing his concerns about the game’s alarmingly high profits in such a short time.
Launching in September 2020, Genshin Impact saw massive attention on Twitch in its early days, which subsequently led to the game making $1 billion in revenue on mobile in less than six months.
This made it the most profitable video game in its first year of release, profitting more than Fortnite, Grand Theft Auto V, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019), Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and more. It also won Best Mobile Game at this year’s entry of The Game Awards.
In a previous written Medium article on the subject, Yakkocmn explained that he had “reservations about making standard content for it, let alone taking a sponsorship,” primarily because of the game’s gacha mechanics.
Further, in a prior video discussing why open-world games are a mess, Yakkocmn branded Genshin Impact as a “lifeless Breath of the Wild rip-off with every addictive mobile game design tactic plastered on top” based on only a few hours of play.
However, in light of his current work on an upcoming video tackling open-world games and wanting to better justify his opinion on the game by having played it, Yakkocmn eventually steeled himself to play over 100 hours of Genshin Impact.
In his prior videos on gacha games [1, 2], Yakkocmn discussed how their constant need for maintenance and new content encouraged further content to be “pulled,” as well as the cut-throat nature of the industry which led to few giants and many failures.
Given that the latter results in the complete cessation of a game’s availability, Yakkocmn found himself pondering: If a gacha game were to be shut down tomorrow, would he have had fun with the time he had or only felt the loss of the progress he made?
To that end, Yakkocmn praised the friends he made through the games’ communities more than the games’ mechanics themselves.
Yakkocmn then criticized how the game steals mechanics from popular games – reinforcing his previous Breath of the Wild comparison – while implementing forced grinding and arbitrary inconveniences in order to encourage players to purchase more gacha pulls.
Combined with terrible rates on the gacha pulls, Yakkocmn viewed these issues as impactful enough to ultimately condemn his time with Genshin Impact as a disappointment.
Yakkocmn felt Genshin Impact was designed to entrance and addict, with MiHoYo using the game’s beautiful environments and characters to obfuscate these insidious goals.
As proof, the YouTuber noted how combat is nothing more than monotonous button-mashing, the lack of creativity in how players can handle challenges in the open, and the fact that grinding mechanics are held-off until the players are “sufficiently invested” after a lengthy prologue.
Additionally, players are forced to interact with repetitive objectives with the correct character element, all the while being shown enticing points of interest, collectibles, and puzzle solutions.
He also found that lengthy grinding did little to help players reach end-game content, as powerful new characters with either pulled from gacha or slowly and ineffectively powered-up with materials obtained from repeating even more monotonous tasks. He also denounced the story as being generic and drowned in tangential, dialogue-heavy cut-scenes.
Even MiHoYo’s own attempts to make the game more fun fell short of the YouTuber’s expectations, as the excitement of fighting bosses that offered a proper challenge was soon over-shadowed by having to re-fight them over and over in order to progress.
In fact, according to Yakkocmn, the most fun he had with the game was attempting to cross the ocean by freezing the water with his friends – however, once a thunderstorm rolled in, it didn’t end well.
Aside from good atmosphere and music, Yakkocmn concluded that Genshin Impact offers so little to players outside of drip-feeding them achievements and other small victories that it should be classified as gambling more than a game.
Yakkocmn then highlighted how the game’s community seems to almost take pride in not only “streaming gambling to children,” but also in how much money they lost on the game. Further hammering this point home are the numerous videos, articles, and clips showing players having spent thousands of dollars in pursuit of specific pulls [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].
— English VTubers Out Of Context (@ENVTubersOOC) December 30, 2021
“If someone gets invested in Genshin Impact because they’re a fan of RPGs and anime,” Yakkocmn warned, “but they aren’t too good with managing finances- or they really want the girl who pulls a sword out of her tits- it can easily lead to addiction and massive amounts of reckless spending.”
He next reiterated a point made in his article, asserting that self-control should not be a prerequisite to enjoy a video game, nor should a lack thereof be cited as an excuse to manipulate the player.
“If you need to blame the addictive tendencies and personal struggles of players to somehow defend the features of a popular video game, then it shouldn’t be marketed as a game, it should be regulated like a gambling product,” Yakkocmn decried.
This is the argument some have made over loot boxes in video games ever since the massive backlash faced by EA over their implementation of loot boxes in Star Wars Battlefront II.
Multiple politicians and government bodies have since called for loot boxes to be classified as gambling, with EA putting forth the baffling defense that loot boxes are actually “surprise mechanics” in response. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].
Belgium’s change in the law against loot boxes saw multiple mobile games end their operations in the region, including Kingdom Hearts Union X [Cross], Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omina, Mobius Final Fantasy, Fire Emblem Heroes, and Animal Crossing Pocket Camp.
An academic paper from two doctors of the UK Universities of Plymouth and Wolverhampton concluded that only 5% of those who buy loot boxes – high-level spenders sometimes dubbed ‘whales’ in the world of mobile game design – generate 50% of the revenue. The paper also stated a third of them could be classified as “problem gamblers.”
Do you think loot boxes are gambling? Should governments be the ones to define what is appropriate for gaming, or should that fall upon the player or consumer? Let us know on social media and in the comments below.