Genshin Impact and “whaling” culture: How much would you spend for an online game?

by Matthew Escosia
SEA Wave - Genshin Impact
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By: Narah Faigal


After getting recognized as the most talked about game on Twitter, as well as its latest update featuring new characters, quests and maps, and the reputation it has built for its successful anime-inspired (*cough* waifu *cough*) marketing, Genshin Impact has made a huge impression on gamers all over the world.

Genshin Impact is an open-world and action roleplaying game created by Chinese video game studio miHoYo. It’s a game where you can explore the fantastical world of Teyvat to fight different enemies and bosses, unravel different stories, and obtain powerful weapons and artifacts. Most importantly, it’s a game where you “collect” and build a team of characters from scratch through its “gacha” system.

SEA Wave - Genshin Impact

Image from miHoYo

For those new to the term, “gacha” is a type of game wherein people bet their in-game currencies in hopes of getting limited-edition characters, weapons or other items. The term comes from “gachapon”, a type of vending machine in Japan that dispenses capsule toys randomly, similar to blind boxes where you spend money not knowing what item you will get.

As exciting as gacha games could be, the possibilities of overspending are slowly becoming a problem for players. With these kinds of games, the chances of getting the prize that you want increase as you spend more money trying to get them. And with the scarce release of limited-edition characters and the throwing of luck, gamers can’t help but spend their money on gacha games in order to acquire their favorite characters or weapons.

This is where “whaling” comes in.


Whaling, in the context of gaming, is the excessive spending of money for more chances of winning the gacha. With a lot of character and weapon releases, passionate gamers tend to get into these practices, spending hundreds and thousands of dollars just to get multiple copies of their favorite characters to fully upgrade their skills and talents.

While the game is free-to-play, a lot of players have started to incline to whaling activities, due to the want for the latest characters and weapons. This is slowly becoming a problem to gamers, especially towards the younger audience that Genshin Impact targets.

The Genshin Impact subreddit, one of the biggest communities for the game with over a million members, had a poll last November asking gamers how much they spent so far, with the results showing over 2,000 players or around 64% of respondents have spent anywhere from 5 to over 500 dollars for the game.

While majority of the spenders were doing so minimally, more than a quarter of them were high spenders considered as “dolphins” or “whales”. This number may or may not be reflective of the community as a whole, but whatever the case may be, we can see that a considerable percentage of people are spending money on this game and some of these people are spending a lot. There are even articles on people spending thousands of dollars just to obtain a single character like YouTuber Mtashed who spent 2,000 dollars to obtain a single character or Twitch streamer Lacari who spent a total of 5,000 dollars on the game, later saying that it was a “learning experience.”

SEA Wave - Genshin Impact

Recently, miHoYo has released its biggest update of the game by unlocking a whole new nation in the map, as well as adding a lot of characters and weapons in their gacha banner and introducing new elements to the world lore. And with more updates to come soon such as the release of the Electro Archon Baal – the most highly-anticipated new character that people are eager to obtain – only time will tell if these whaling tendencies will continue in the Genshin Impact gaming community, for better or for worse.

What do you think of spending money for a gacha game? Would you do it knowing that there’s no guarantee you’ll get the character you want? Share your thoughts with us below!

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