It should come as no surprise that maintaining a live-service game comes at a cost, but Genshin Impact‘s cost of development is so high that it’s on track to break records. The popular RPG launched in September 2020, and by the time Genshin Impact 3.0 and the game’s second anniversary rolls around, HoYoverse will have spent over $500 million USD on the game’s continuous development. Redditor KeiraFaith recently made recounting the game’s development journey, citing several (reliable) sources to put the numbers together.
Genshin Impact had an initial budget of around $100 million USD, which already put it on a list of the most expensive games ever made. Constantly creating new content and making sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible isn’t cheap, especially when new version updates arrive nearly every six weeks. The president of HoYoverse, Cai Haoyu, stated in a 2021 presentation that Genshin Impact costs $200 million USD annually for its development as a live-service game, twice the initial budget needed to bring it to life.
Star Citizen currently holds the top spot for most expensive game with a development cost of over $400 million USD, even though it has yet to be officially released in full. Cyberpunk 2077 sits right below it, with a development cost of $316 million USD. Genshin Impact is set to surpass both games by the end of this year if its development cost stays on the same track, which seems to be the case despite recent delays that slowed down the update schedule back in May.
Genshin Impact’s annual cost may seem too high to be sustainable when looking at the numbers for other expensive games, but the gacha market is a lucrative one. Yoimiya’s current rerun banner hasn’t exactly sold well when compared to other characters, yet it still managed to produce about $1,183,651 USD from the Chinese App Store alone on its first day. GenshinLab estimates from the China market alone, HoYoverse has managed to make over $500 million USD from just its character banners, and that’s not taking into account international markets.
When version 3.0 launches, HoYoverse is almost guaranteed to make much more than that, as players will likely be drawn in by the new region, Sumeru, and its new playable characters.