Mobile data and analytics provider App Annie talks to GameDaily about what this impressive debut means for core games in the mobile market.
In the last week of September, Genshin Impact was released to a mostly-positive reception. It’s a free-to-play action-RPG from Shanghai-based publisher and developer miHoYo. The game released on PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and mobile devices via App Store and Google Play Store. According to mobile analytics group App Annie, the game has been a huge hit on mobile having amassed more than 23 million downloads there in its first week on the market.
For Amir Ghodrati, director of market insights at App Annie, this impressive number speaks to the growing market for core, console-like games on mobile platforms.
“This is an impressive launch for any game, but especially for an open world core action-RPG to get off to such a strong start--especially in the US,” Ghodrati told GameDaily. “Games that breakout in downloads tend to be hyper-casual or games with shorter session times that traditionally appeal to a very wide market. Core games often focus on a deeper level of engagement for a more targeted audience.”
Download numbers like these are typically reserved for the Call of Duty: Mobiles and Pokémon Gos of the world. However, these are titles based on existing, core game properties, and for a brand new IP to come out of the gate like this is almost unheard of. Ghodrati said that core games tend to be too complex and in-depth for the casual-leaning mobile audience, but between gacha mechanics and accessible gameplay Genshin Impact appears to have struck a very fine balance.
“It’s a core open world game that’s still accessible. A great deal of time must have been spent on the design and the world-building, but the controls aren’t so complex that it’s difficult to play on mobile,” Ghodrati said. “So you’re getting the quality you might have expected from a console game in a package that you can access for free on your phone. That puts the game in the hands of so many more gamers.”
It is also likely to translate to substantial consumer spend. Ghodrati said that consumers spend 1.5 times more money on mobile games than they do on PC or consoles combined. However, the content and gameplay needs to be enough to motivate such spending.
“It wouldn’t work if people didn’t want to stick around,” he explained. “People seem to like the gameplay, the visuals, the music, and the ability to change characters will keep things fresh. Core games like this tend to do a good job of retaining their users over time.”
A strong online presence is also key to keeping Genshin Impact relevant moving forward. As of this writing, it’s among the most popular channels on Twitch, and this sort of word-of-mouth, creator-driven performance is going to be key to the game’s long-term success. Ghodrati said that this introductory period is a very delicate time for the free-to-play mobile market, and how the game performs in the coming weeks will paint a picture of Genshin Impact’s extended potential.
For Ghodrati, the biggest takeaway of Genshin Impact’s impressive debut is that there exists a market for core gameplay experiences in the mobile market. Additionally, in some ways, the free-to-play boom has made console gaming more reminiscent of mobile gaming. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how close these two markets get to one another. By launching simultaneously on both platforms, Genshin Impact is certainly casting a wide net.
“We’ve seen over time how mobile gaming has created titles that are more and more like console games each year, while console gaming is also moving closer to mobile,” Ghodrati said. “It’s only natural that we have experiences that can work while launching on both simultaneously. It will be interesting to see how the surge in mobile gaming in 2020--especially from titles like Genshin Impact and Among Us--carries over into 2021.”
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