Genshin Impact has become one of the most popular free-to-play games since launching in September 2020, amassing over 60 million players worldwide. But how exactly does the monetization work, and is Genshin Impact really free? In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll cover everything you need to know about playing Genshin as a free player.
What is Genshin Impact?
Genshin Impact is an open-world action RPG developed and published by miHoYo. The game features a vast open world known as Teyvat, which currently includes seven unique nations each based on different real-world cultures like medieval Germany, ancient China, and feudal Japan.
Players control a customizable protagonist known as The Traveler, who embarks on a journey across Teyvat to find their lost sibling. The gameplay involves exploring the open world, defeating enemies in real-time combat, completing quests, obtaining loot, and uncovering the mysterious fate of The Traveler‘s missing twin.
Genshin Impact can be played for free on PC, iOS, Android, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5. It supports cross-progression between all platforms via a miHoYo account system.
Is Genshin Impact Free to Play?
Yes, Genshin Impact is completely free to download and play without spending any money. There are no trial periods, no upfront costs, and no subscription fees. You can simply download the game from the official website or app stores and immediately jump into the full experience without restrictions.
The optional in-game purchases are not required whatsoever to progress through the story campaigns, explore the vast open world, participate in events, unlock new characters, or complete end-game content. Spending real money simply allows you to speed up certain progression mechanics, wish for more characters, and obtain cosmetic enhancements.
Many players have sunk hundreds or even thousands of hours into Genshin Impact without spending a dime. The game is fundamentally balanced and enjoyable for free users. Patience and persistence are well rewarded.
Genshin Impact‘s Monetization Model
While the core Genshin Impact experience is free, there are several ways to optionally spend real money within the game:
Genesis Crystals – This premium currency can be purchased directly and exchanged for the non-premium currency "Primogems". 60 Genesis Crystals costs $1 USD.
Gacha Wishes – Primogems are mainly used to buy "Wishes", which are the random loot boxes containing new characters, weapons, and items. A single wish costs 160 primos.
Battle Pass – The recurring Battle Pass unlocks bonus rewards as you gain EXP. The premium version costs $10 USD per period.
Blessing of the Welkin Moon – A $5 USD monthly subscription that provides extra primos over time.
Costumes – Purely cosmetic outfits for characters released occasionally. Each costs around $15-20 USD.
As you can see, real money is used almost exclusively to obtain new characters, weapons, items, and cosmetics – not actual gameplay content or progression. And again, spending is 100% optional in Genshin.
Pros of Genshin‘s Free-to-Play Model
There are many benefits to Genshin Impact‘s free-to-play structure:
Accessibility – By removing an upfront cost, Genshin allows anyone to easily try the game and join the community.
Fairness – Free players are on equal footing with paying players when it comes to exploration, quests, events, and character/team strength progression.
Continuous Updates – The free model incentivizes ongoing development and events to retain players. Major content expansions are always free.
Ethical Monetization – Critics praise Genshin‘s non-aggressive monetization tactics compared to other mobile gacha games.
Engaged Community – The game fosters a highly engaged playerbase who create fanart, guides, cosplay, and discussions.
Mass Popularity – Genshin has accumulated over 60 million players partly due to the frictionless free access removing barriers.
However, there are some potential downsides or criticisms to consider regarding Genshin Impact‘s free-to-play structure:
Gacha Randomness – The wishing system relies on randomness, which can lead to frustration and temptation to spend. Unlocking your favorite character is not guaranteed.
Tedious Grinding – Progression can feel slow for free players leading to repetition and daily "chores". But reasonable pace also avoids burnout.
Multiplayer Limitations – Co-op functionality is limited unless the host player is far enough into the story.
Predatory Monetization – While not as egregious as some mobile games, critics argue Genshin still employs some questionable monetization tactics like FOMO (fear of missing out).
However, Genshin Impact remains very playable and enjoyable long-term without spending money. There are no hard paywalls restricting access to anything substantial in the game.
Content Available for Free Players
Now let‘s dig into all the content and features free players can experience simply by downloading Genshin Impact:
Main Storyline – All Archon and Story Quests are fully playable, including brand new regions like Sumeru recently added.
Open World Exploration – The vast open world regions each offer 100+ hours of exploration, vistas, puzzles, secrets, challenges, and quests.
Characters – There are currently 31 free playable characters obtainable without wishes, including the starting seven.
Co-op Features – You can still invite friends and cooperate with others without restrictions.
Progression Systems – All games systems around leveling characters, talents, artifacts, reputation levels are accessible.
Events – Limited-time events offer free characters, weapons, materials, mini-games, stories, and more.
Spiral Abyss – This challenging end-game dungeon offers renewable primos and materials when completed.
Daily Quests – Daily commissions and resin-gated tasks provide steady progression.
Hangout Events – These visual novel style quests allow you to know each character better.
As you can see, free Genshin Impact players have a massive amount of content available covering all aspects of the game. You won‘t be restricted or disadvantaged compared to paying players.
How the Gacha System Works
Let‘s break down Genshin Impact‘s Gacha system since it can cause confusion:
Gacha refers to the randomized loot boxes. You spend an in-game currency called "primogems" to receive a random item.
Two types of banners: Character Event Wish and Standard Wish. Limited-time character events have boosted drop rates.
Pity system guarantees a 5-star character every 90 wishes at most. And one of the featured event characters is guaranteed within 180 wishes.
Primogems can be earned entirely for free in large numbers, so free players do eventually unlock new characters and weapons. It just requires patience and saving.
Destiny is another separate pity system that guarantees 5-star weapons/characters specifically on the Standard banner.
Overall, while still random, the pity mechanics provide a mercy system so you‘re guaranteed unlocks based on set milestones.
Genshin Impact is very generous compared to other gacha games in terms of free currency and the pity systems that remove the sting of bad luck. You can obtain every character as a free player. It just takes strategically saving primogems between character event banners you want most.
Tips for New Free Players
Here are some tips to help new free players maximize their enjoyment:
Focus on limited character event banners only. Never spend primogems on the standard banner. Wait for your desired 5-star to be featured.
Ascend your characters evenly so you have two balanced parties to run Spiral Abyss dungeon for renewable primogems.
Participate in every limited-time event fully. They offer tons of free ascension materials, weapons, characters, and primogems.
Save primogems for 2-3 months in between wishing on banners you want. Avoid temptation to wish randomly.
Unlock teleport waypoints and Statues of the Seven when exploring to make traversing the world faster.
Use Original Resin for talent domains, artifacts, and weapon ascension. Focus on two DPS characters first.
Enable 2-factor authentication on your miHoYo account. You get some free primogems.
Craft four Condensed Resin per day to double the rewards you get from spending resin.
Overall, it just takes patience as a free Genshin Impact player. Optimizing your primogems, resin, and progression focus allows you to unlock content and characters faster than carelessly playing.
What‘s Coming Up for Genshin Impact?
miHoYo continues to expand Genshin Impact with exciting new regions, stories, characters, and features. And it‘s all completely free additional content for players.
Here is a brief roadmap of what‘s coming soon:
Version 3.4 – Releasing January 18th, 2023. New region Desert of Hadramaveth. Playable character Alhaitham. Lantern Rite festival. Mini-games and events.
Version 3.5 – Scheduled for March 1st, 2023. New weekly boss, playable character Dehya. Windblume festival event.
Version 3.6 – Arriving around April 18th, 2023. Major region expansion with The Forest of Dreams. New character Mika.
Beyond – More regions like Natlan, Fontaine, and Snezhnaya will come in future updates. Each adds brand new areas, quests, stories and characters.
Project Y – Separate upcoming PvP focused multiplayer mode currently in development.
As you can see, Genshin Impact will continuously expand with meaningful new content that all players can enjoy for free. The future looks bright for this ever-evolving online world.
Spending Money vs. Free – What‘s the Difference?
For some additional context around the free Genshin experience, here is an objective comparison to spending money:
Spending allows you to wish more frequently and acquire new characters quicker. As a free player you must be selective in wishes and save for months between each one.
Resin-gated progression like character/weapon ascension goes faster if you refresh resin with primogems. Free players progress steadily but at a slower pace.
Constellations for characters (which grant buffs) require multiple duplicates from wishing. Free players will only unlock low constellations.
World Level and Adventure Rank rise quicker by refreshing resin to sweep domains. This then unlocks higher level content faster.
The Battle Pass weapons and resources offer a head start for spenders. Free players must rely on crafted weapons and grindable drops.
More characters and weapons give greater flexibility in party compositions (splitting elements, weapons). Free players have less variety.
Polls consistently show that low spenders and free players still enjoy Genshin Impact massively. The key differences above do not gate your ability to play, explore, or complete all content. There are no exclusivities behind spending money. You just progress at a steadier, more methodical pace.
Is Genshin Impact Family Friendly?
For parents wondering if Genshin Impact is alright for their kid to play, the game does maintain a Teen ESRB rating and relatively inoffensive content.
There is cartoon fantasy violence such as hitting enemies with swords or elemental attacks, but it‘s non-gory without blood/death. Just some flashing lights and huge damage numbers.
Characters tend to be stylized with some exaggerated body proportions, but nothing sexually explicit. Outfits range from practical armor to attractive costumes, but are generally appropriate.
Genshin Impact also emphasizes peaceful exploration, cooperation, and creating a welcoming community. The tone is lighthearted high-fantasy.
Parents should still monitor playtime and wish purchases if allowing kids to play. But Genshin Impact is far from the worst case in terms of mature content compared to many other popular games. The anime aesthetic attracts a younger audience by nature.
At the end of the day, Genshin Impact absolutely delivers a full-featured gaming experience completely free of charge. There is a staggering amount of open world content, stories, characters, progression, and online play available without spending money.
The optional in-game purchases provide convenience and cosmetics, but are not gateways to actual gameplay or content. Genshin strikes an admirable balance catering to all types of players.
If you have any lingering doubts about picking up Genshin Impact as a free player, put them to rest. Teyvat offers hundreds of enjoyable hours of adventure without spending a dime. Just focus on efficient resource management rather than wishing relentlessly, and you will unlock your desired characters in due time.
Genshin Impact stands out as a quality free game that respects players‘ time and wallets. You have nothing to lose jumping into this beautiful anime MMO world. Ready your sword and glider – your journey awaits, Traveler!