It should come as no surprise that maintaining a live service game comes at a cost, but Genshin Impact’s development cost 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 arrives and the game’s second anniversary arrives, HoYoverse will have spent over $500 million dollars on the game’s continued development. Redditor KeiraFaith recently recounted the game’s development journey, citing various (reliable) sources to put the numbers together.
Genshin Impact had an initial budget of around $100 million dollars, which already put it on a list of the most expensive games ever made. Constantly creating new content and making sure everything works as smoothly as possible doesn’t come cheap, especially when new version updates arrive almost every six weeks. HoYoverse president Cai Haoyu stated in a 2021 presentation that Genshin Impact costs $200 million annually to develop as a live service game, double the initial budget needed to bring it to life.
Star Citizen currently holds the top spot for the 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 just below, costing $316 million to develop. Genshin Impact is set to top both games later this year if their development cost stays on the same track, which appears to be the case despite recent delays that pushed the update schedule back in May.
Genshin Impact’s annual cost may seem too high to be sustainable when looking at the numbers of other expensive games, but the gacha market is lucrative. Yoimiya’s current replay banner hasn’t exactly sold well compared to other characters, but it still managed to bring in around $1,183,651 USD on the Chinese app store alone on its first day. According to GenshinLab’s estimates in the China market alone, HoYoverse has managed to earn over $500 million dollars from its character posters alone, and that’s not taking international markets into account.
When version 3.0 releases, HoYoverse will almost certainly do a lot more than that, as players will likely be drawn to the new region, Sumeru, and its new playable characters.