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Genshin Impact, Fate/Grand Order, Goddess of Victory: Nikke… How would the big gachas fare with a China ban?

As Chinese regulations scrutinise gacha mechanics, are the genre’s biggest players making enough elsewhere?
Genshin Impact, Fate/Grand Order, Goddess of Victory: Nikke… How would the big gachas fare with a China ban?
Date Type Companies Involved Key Datapoint
Jan 3, 2024 chart Bluepoch Hoyoverse Nintendo Shift Up
  • Gacha gaming's future is up for debate with a potential Chinese ban
  • But plenty of gacha games generated millions of dollars in December, discounting Chinese revenues
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Gacha games comprise a major genre in the mobile sphere with plenty of the industry’s biggest titles falling into the category - miHoYo’s Genshin Impact chief among them.

But gacha mechanics could be banned entirely from China this year, thrusting disarray upon the genre and its security. This makes now an ideal time to reflect on recent gacha revenue earnings giving some perspective on how the landscape could look following a ban in the region.

Gacha giants

miHoYo further solidified itself as a juggernaut of the gacha genre in 2023 with the release of Honkai: Star Rail breaking records and quickly generating $500 million worldwide. As for December 2023, GachaRevenue lists Honkai: Star Rail as the month’s second-biggest gacha game (based on Sensor Tower data), having generated $28 million sans China. The title was only outranked by Genshin Impact, miHoYo’s flagship, just ahead with $31 million.

Notably, Honkai: Star Rail revenues saw a significant rise from November’s $19 million, while Genshin Impact fell dramatically from $53 million. Indeed, in December, Star Rail almost raced ahead again.

Excluding Chinese revenues, the third-biggest gacha game of December 2023 was Fate/Grand Order with $26 million. Jujutsu Kaisen Phantom Parade followed with $24 million, an especially impressive feat for a game that released solely in Japan one month prior. The game leverages the Jujutsu Kaisen IP with voice actors reprising their roles from the shonen anime.

Rounding out the top five gacha games for December was Dragon Ball Legends, another mobile game leveraging a well-known anime property. This title generated $23.8 million.

Around the world

Many achievers in the gacha genre last month came from Japanese IP, unsurprising when the genre originated in Japan.

These included Black Clover M with $17.4 million after a successful November launch, and Nintendo’s billion-dollar mobile game Fire Emblem Heroes with another $5 million pocketed on its methodical march. Koei Tecmo’s first mobile game of the decade saw a strong December too, with Atelier Resleriana having generated $4 million in Japan alone.

As for South Korean games, Goddess of Victory: Nikke continued its strong showing with $19 million in December. Brave Nine successor Brown Dust 2, meanwhile, made $1.3 million.

Evidently, there are many developers in the gacha space who could carry on making millions in revenue without China, although it goes without saying that a ban in the region would be an undeniable blow. And developers like miHoYo and triumphant fledgling Bluepoch could well carry out mechanical overhauls of their games to avoid the ban, being based in China themselves.

Naturally, many studios globally may well make adjustments to cater to the Chinese market too, but overall, it is clear that the big players can generate plenty of revenue elsewhere, should the worst happen.