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September 12, 2022

The China Vibe.

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According to data released by Sensor Tower, a firm that monitors mobile apps, as of May, Genshin Impact has brought in more than $3 billion in player spending from mobile phones alone. This figure put it far ahead of other Chinese games, and made its developer, miHoYo, which had no profile in the West before Genshin Impact, a “key national enterprise” selected and supported by government officials to create cultural exports and enhance China’s soft power.

In China, at an annual awards ceremony organized by the central government to celebrate cultural exports from the country, the game recently won the title of “the most valuable homegrown intellectual property (IP) of 2022” in the video game category, with public votes for it putting it way ahead of its competitors. 

Here come the food brands

With Genshin Impact’s popularity continuing to grow, Chinese brands are tripping over themselves to align their products with the bona fide gaming phenomenon in the hopes that some limited-edition items developed through collaboration will help them reach younger customers. 

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Image from Weibo

HEYTEA, a Chinese boutique beverage chain, is the latest to capitalize on gamers’ love for the smash hit. On Tuesday, the tea drink company launched a new collaboration with the title, introducing two types of fruit tea available at its online stores, a variety of merchandise, and two special drinks that would be on sale at its brick-and-mortar locations for a month. 

This highly anticipated partnership was an instant hit. The special drinks were reported to be sold out immediately on Tuesday morning in most HEYTEA stores across the country. On Weibo, Genshin fans were quick to blame the drink chain for underestimating the demand for the special-edition items.

| genshin impact is china’s most popular global video game, and chinese food brands can’t get enough of it | 4
Genshin Impact’s fans wait in a queue to order special meal sets at Pizza Hut. Image from Weibo.

Before HEYTEA, several food chains partnered with the game to huge success. Last month, the Pizza Hut x Genshin Impact collaboration saw fans waiting in line for hours to get into restaurants owned by the fast-food chain. Featuring three limited-edition set meals, some themed gear, and in-game rewards, the promotion was so popular that the police had to intervene at one point, forcing some Pizza Hut locations to close temporarily or turn away zealous customers. 

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A Genshin Impact–themed KFC restaurant in China. Image from Weibo.

In another crossover promotion held in March 2021, Chinese Genshin fans descended upon KFC locations in droves to get fried chicken buckets themed after Diluc and Noelle, two characters from the game, as well as pins and stickers featuring the pair. Because of the eager crowds, some KFCs in Shanghai and Hangzhou had to cancel the events after triggering concerns among local officials about social gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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