Genshin Impact, like Fortnite or Roblox, is one of those smash hits that demands you to be aware of it, even if you haven’t played it. Since releasing in September 2020, this gacha free-to-play open worlder where you collect anime girlfriends and boyfriends has drawn a big audience, and today represents probably the largest global game from a Chinese developer. MiHoYo is still going strong supporting the project, with Genshin’s 2.3 update coming right around the corner.
As reported by GamesRadar and Daniel Ahmad, we now have a clearer picture of MiHoYo’s long term plans after Genshin and Honkai: Star Rail. MiHoYo is opening a development house in Montreal focused on an open world title in a new setting. This move would see MiHoYo creating a foothold in one of the biggest development cities in the otherwise decentralized video game industry, and also represents the continuation of Chinese investment in Western development spearheaded by Tencent.
What game is the studio making? The project doesn't have a name, but here are some tantalizing details in open sight inside MiHoYo's new job postings, the first of a committed 100 over the next two years. One for a senior level designer describes an open world with urban areas and wilderness connected by a significant road system, with an emphasis on vehicular gameplay. I do also have to point out the bit in that post about MiHoYo’s mission to “create a virtual world for one billion people by 2030.” For my own sanity, I have to assume that’s some CEO-speak marketing business, but who knows. Watch out Zuckerberg, a dark horse may have just entered the metaverse race.
Entering Montreal makes sense for Chinese devs as they begin to develop AAA games for a global audience. 1. The city has a rich talent pool and over 200+ established game studios already.2. Companies can benefit from tax credits which helps with operation cost.November 15, 2021
MiHoYo’s post for a senior technical artist implies a “destruction system” will be a core mechanic of the title. The post’s use of “next gen” also stands out to me. It can be a very watered-down term, so your guess is as good as mine whether they’re referring to the relatively fresh current hardware generation, or something farther down the line.
Another role seeking a network programmer indicates this game will have significant online functionality, and all three postings are looking for expertise in Unreal Engine, a big change from MiHoYo’s prior use of Unity in Genshin Impact.
Given the open world setting and online functionality of this project, as well as Genshin’s explosive success in the west, I'd wager that this game will have a similar monetization and overall structure to Genshin Impact. But the presence of urban environments and vehicles, as well as MiHoYo’s own language describing a “paranormal” setting imply something a bit grittier than what we’ve seen from them in the past. That being said, I can't imagine the studio will deviate far from the distinctive art style they’ve developed through the Honkai series and Genshin Impact. It may be less of a celebration of anime boyfriends, but it will still be anime boyfriend-adjacent.