During this week’s ChinaJoy Convention gaming convention in Shanghai, a man smashed a PlayStation 4 on the convention grounds in protest over a game being featured by Sony with a design that’s, let’s say, heavily influenced by 2017’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
The game in question is called Genshin Impact, and based on a gameplay trailer released in June of this year, the similarities to Breath of the Wild are more than numerous. The game world is presented in a similar color palette and art style, while quests and cooking ingredients function similarly, as do the menus and on-screen visuals for these game mechanics. The most immediate divergence from its forerunner is its anime-inspired character design, and multiple player characters.
Genshin Impact is being developed by miHoYo, a Chinese game studio with a history of mobile game development, including a game called Honkai Impact 3rd, which also features an all-anime, all-female starring cast, albeit in a futuristic setting rather than the fantasy-inspired worlds of Breath of the Wild and Genshin Impact.
While a man smashing what appears to be a working condition PS4 console as a form of protest is notable in its own right, this act is emblematic of a larger debate happening in the Chinese gaming world that will likely only grow as the Chinese gaming industry develops. Enforcement of intellectual property law is famously looser in China, and his act can be interpreted as a bigger picture protest against a style of game development that takes advantage of these laxer IP protections, potentially drawing attention and resources away from Chinese game studios creating games without such striking similarities to existing properties.
It’s worth noting both that Genshin Impact didn’t steal from Breath of the Wild so much as it copied many elements, opening room for a discussion as to just what constitutes too much copying; and that, while Sony did feature Genshin Impact during their ChinaJoy press conference, they also showcased games from Chinese developers like Monkey King: Hero is Back, based on a movie adaptation of the classic novel Journey to the West, and Farside, a vehicle-based battle royale shooter, among others that appear far more organically designed.
Is destroying a game console a form of protest taken too far? Depending on how the Chinese gaming industry grows, this could be a relative blip in the grander scheme of things, or an omen of what’s to come.
NEXT: SonicFox At EVO 2019
DRM-free isn’t what it used to be.