Genshin effect developer miHoYo has a uniquely generous policy towards fan artists, and its explicit endorsement of Genshin effect merch has created an incredibly vibrant art community.
On May 21, miHoYo released his Genshin effect Overseas Fan-Made Merchandising Guide, which explicitly allows the commercial sale of fan-made goods up to 200 units. There are only a few restrictions and artists should not contact the studio for small parties below the limit.
The legal environment for fan art is as strained as conventions like NekoCon have limited sales of unofficial goods. Entertainment companies like FUNimation have explicitly stated earlier that creators on artist tracks, which are showrooms at fan shows where independent artists can sell unofficial goods, “infringe Funimation’s copyright.” And it is generally understood among artists that properties owned by companies like Disney are completely out of bounds. Super giant gamehas by comparison a permitted policy for commercial fan works, but its IPs are smaller in comparison.
The quasi-legal environment in artist careers was the main way that fan goods were sold before the pandemic. But other routes, like Kickstarter, have been harder for merchants to break into.
“There is an unspoken law. Artist alleys are gray areas; Kickstarters are not. You do not put your stuff on Kickstarter, ”the board game designer behind Genshin Tarot, professionally known as Brother Ming, says.
Genshin effect is not the first video game to have a massive base of fans willing to create original keychains, phone charms and pins for sale. It’s hard to find exact numbers, but independent artists have been sale of commercial fan products by comic conventions for at least a decade or more. Covid traded heavily for sites like Etsy, and artists have continued to produce merchandise for video games despite the logistical difficulties of a global pandemic.
An independent artist and game developer who walks past Olivinearc professionally Kotaku that artists needed financial security to create fan merchandise. Not all artists made enough money to justify the cost of production. But Genshin effect has a massive global fanbase and the company has a different policy towards commercial fan products.
Compared to other companies that have larger IPs, miHoYo has a unique willingness to recognize fans and allow commercial sale of unofficial Genshin products were shocking to Ming.
“This is different … we can talk to miHoYo,” Ming says. “[Previously], they did not publicly support [commercial fan artists], but they also did nothing to prevent us from making fan merch. So we knew there was a healthy attitude towards us. But then they were like, hey, just email us. And it was like this: woah … can we? ”
The study’s open policy has made it possible Genshin effect fans to make more varied products than the prints, keychains and charms typically sold in artist tracks. At the time of writing, a quick search on Kickstarter shows unofficial earrings, sweaters, book bags, plush toys and berets. And fans were willing to put money into their enthusiasm. At the time of writing, there were 28 Genshin effect Kickstarters with at least $ 10,000 in funding.
Ming did not expect a response when he contacted miHoYo about commercial production Genshin Tarot. Two days later he received a general reply: “Hello, thank you for letting us know.”
There are also many independent artists advertising their fan-made items on Twitter. Olivinearc sells Genshin effect goods in her online store, and despite only opening twice a year, she receives a few hundred orders each time she opens. She uses the proceeds to fund the development of her visual novel game, and she cites the revenue from unofficially Genshin effect products as the reason she was able to expand her soundtrack.
“Genshin fandom are more willing to spend on physical goods because they probably already invest a lot of money in the game, and if they do not spend money, they invest more time instead. Which also creates an emotional investment. ”
While miHoYo has always held fan art contests on social media, the studio directly supports fan artists through its official creator program. Apart from special Discord privileges, the program also provides currency in the game to official content creators. Unlike the social media that gaming companies usually require for streamers, it seems that miHoYo’s policy for content creators for artists is far milder.
Emnide, who runs an Etsy store where they sell pins of the figures from Genshin effect, is one of many artists in the content creation program.
“I just filled out the application, then the program moderators evaluated my work to determine if it was suitable for the program. The program also accepts small accounts, where many content creators have less than a hundred followers at the time they applied, ”they said.
Using fan art for publicity is not without controversy. The study previously been subject to professional criticism to hold a fan design contest that allowed free distribution without proper compensation. Paying creators with real currency rather than gacha currency would be ideal, but the fine text does not indicate that miHoYo owns fan art produced under the program.
None of the creators seemed to be worried that miHoYo would soon return to its commercial fanworks policy. Ming seemed particularly optimistic.
“[The studio] Understanding having a very, very active fan community that revolves around creators is the best way to keep the fan fan engaged. Ming told Kotaku. “Because players want to talk to each other about gameplay and complain about balance. Creators are those who can drive commitment and bring [Genshin Impact] constantly in the foreground. ”