This week, developer Mihoyo released Genshin Impact’s highly anticipated 2.4 update, which brought in new characters, new quests, and overall UI improvements to the online gacha open-world game. Alongside these additions, however, Mihoyo also snuck in a small announcement about a few early-game characters getting alternate costumes that change up — and cover up — some of the more scantily-clad women. Moreover, these costumes are available as alternate skins globally except for players on the Chinese servers who have no choice in whether or not to use them.
We will release the Alternate Outfits, which are partial redesigns of the default outfits of "Dandelion Knight" Jean, "Gliding Champion" Amber, "Thorny Benevolence" Rosaria, and "Astral Reflection" Mona.
— Genshin Impact (@GenshinImpact) January 4, 2022
The costume changes vary, but mostly focus on covering up skin on four of the female characters. In some instances, it takes some fairly ludicrous costumes like the water mage Mona and makes some smart changes. In other cases, they covered some bare shoulders, which seems like an odd thing to get up-in-arms about (pun intended).
The bigger issue is that the Chinese version of the announcement declared these to be the only costumes available for that server, apologizing profusely and offering a make up amount of primogems, one of Genshin Impact’s virtual currencies.
This lead to people drawing the conclusion that the Chinese government’s recent slowdown of approvals for gaming content — seemingly an attempt to curb video game addiction — may be at fault. On the People’s Republic of China’s English site outlining an assembly with Chinese video game publishers like Tencent and Netease, the page reads “Obscene and violent content and those breeding unhealthy tendencies, such as money-worship and effeminacy, should be removed.”
Genshin Impact’s character Venti, a principle male character of the game’s prologue and a five-star draw from the gacha system, was cited by a government auditor as an example of the effeminacy problem in the game industry.
Mihoyo has not outright come out and said these costume changes are a reaction to the government’s recent posturing, but it’s not hard to draw that conclusion. It does seem likely that these new mandates will at minimum influence the way the developer designs future characters, which could end up with better character designs for worse reasons.
Genshin Impact is available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC, and mobile. A Switch version was announced in early 2020 but has yet to materialize.
Disclaimer: Tencent, one of the companies mentioned in this article, is the parent company of Fanbyte.