Genshin Impact is one of the biggest, most successful video games in the world, bringing in tens of millions of dollars a month for developer/publisher miHoYo. However, according to some voice actors involved with the popular game, they don’t get paid for months, and it’s causing some to possibly fall behind on rent.
Launched in 2020, Genshin Impact is a free-to-play gacha-driven online anime-themed action-RPG featuring a large roster of characters who work together to defeat enemies using elemental magic attacks. The game has been a massive hit from the moment it first went live and has spawned a giant community of players around the world. However, despite all the money and success the game has brought developer miHoYo, two voice actors who have worked on the game have publicly shared frustration about their pay on Twitter.
On July 12, Corina Boettger and Brandon Winckler, two voice actors who have voiced characters in Genshin Impact, tweeted how frustrated they were and claimed that money owed to them had yet to be paid months later. Boettger voices popular NPC Paimon and Winckler voices various minor characters in the RPG.
Winckler explained that he has sent five emails to miHoYo asking for the company to pay him, but has yet to receive any response. He said it was “inexcusable” that he has had to wait over four months for his paycheck, while he estimates the publisher brings in over $85 million a month. Between 2020 and 2021, Genshin Impact reportedly generated a total of $3.7 billion.
“It’s really hard to justify working on something for the sake of work when you can’t afford to eat,” tweeted Winckler. “Many non-union productions have this problem, I’ve waited anywhere from four to eight months for payment, and even then, it isn’t much to ask. $1000 here, $500 there, and it adds up fast.”
Winckler added that while he loves working on video games, he won’t be working on Genshin Impact anymore, saying that the game should be a “union production” with a union contract and protections.
Fellow actor Corina Boettger also tweeted about frustrations over lack of pay, saying they had worked for “months” unpaid on a “big project.” Boettger claims they are owed thousands of dollars and is currently struggling to pay rent because of the delayed payments. While Boettger didn’t directly say Genshin Impact in the tweets, follow-up replies make it clear what project the actor is referring to in their public statements.
“This project has made BILLIONS,” said Boettger. “This project should be Union. This wouldn’t happen if the game was union. Tell them to make the game SAG.”
Boettger further added that while they’re not sure if the developers, publisher, or someone else are to blame for the payment issues, they believe that if the game was union none of this would be happening.
Kotaku contacted miHoYo, Boettger, and Winckler for comment, but didn’t hear back before publication.
Unions in the video game industry aren’t as common as in other industries, like film or manufacturing, but that has started to change in recent years. First, QA testers at Call of Duty studio Raven Software unionized, followed by testers at BioWare, Blizzard, and Bethesda. Developers at Proletariat Studio previously tried to unionize everyone at the studio outside of management but were ultimately unsuccessful. And on Monday, Sega of America’s office in Irvine, California successfully voted to unionize.
Outside of Microsoft, no video game publisher has volantarily recognized any of these unions, and Activision has reportedly tried to bust up the unions within its large organization.
Update 07/14/2023 11:05 a.m. ET: A representative from HoyoVerse sent Kotaku a statement in response to the allegations of delayed payments.
“We truly regret to learn about the ongoing situation. Genshin Impact values and respects the work and effort of everyone involved, and we support our voice actors to claim their proper due. We have made payments to our recording studio on time, and we have immediately urged the studio to pay our voice actors. Meanwhile, we are also seeking alternative solutions. We will keep everyone posted on further developments.”