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Image: Push Square

Gacha game Genshin Impact has gone on to become one of the most profitable projects on the planet, but this wasn’t always the case. Back when it was first announced, its comparisons to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild seemed so strong that many accused it of being a copycat. While these turned out to be surface similarities at best, some protested the title by smashing up their PS4 consoles.

Now, in a new interview, HoYoverse co-founder Liu ‘Dawei’ Wei has opened up about the challenges his company faced when under such intense duress. As part of a speech in Shanghai, the executive explained that his team – comprised of young, inexperienced developers – were brought to tears by the negative response, and pondered what they’d done wrong.

The game was developed in two phases, with the first area of Monstadt drawing most comparisons to Breath of the Wild. “Let's make the part of Genshin Impact that everyone didn't see,” Dawei told his team, which led to the creation of Liyue, the open world’s second primary region. This received a much more positive reception, and the rest is history, with the title eventually going on to become one of the biggest games in the world.

Despite the unprecedented success, Dawei admits if he’d known the challenges beforehand, Genshin Impact may never have been made. At the time, HoYoverse had no experience with open world development, and didn’t even have an engine to build it in. It’s a great story of triumph in the face of adversity, and underlines just how much can be achieved when you have a vision and stick to it.