HoYoverse, the developer behind smash hit Genshin Impact, has seen its latest game, Honkai: Star Rail, leap to the top of Apple’s App Store download charts following its launch on April 26. Initially teased on April 23 and now available worldwide in beta mode, the game has already garnered high expectations, amassing more than 30 million pre-download reservations after it was first announced. 

HoYoverse is also exploring the use of AI tools to achieve a better immersive game experience for the new title, according to National Business Daily. For example, the team has been trying to incorporate AI technology into the behavior patterns of NPC (non-play characters) in Honkai: Star Rail. 

Why it matters: HoYoverse’s Genshin Impact, an anime-style role-playing game (RPG), has consistently brought in sizable revenue for the company. This new game has the potential to widen HoYoverse’s lead in anime RPG games. On April 23, Honkai: Star Rail topped the free download list in Apple’s App Store in more than 113 countries and regions including the US, Japan, and South Korea, according to Chinese media outlet National Business Daily

Details: The fourth installment of the Honkai series, Honkai: Star Rail is a space fantasy game featuring fantasy elements with myths and legends integrated into a sci-fi storyline. Players can control up to four characters and form a team by themselves. The game includes elements of open-world, dungeon exploration, and turn-based strategic combats.

  • HoYoverse is keen to emphasize that Honkai: Star Rail is not a direct sequel to its previous title Honkai Impact 3rd. While the two games share themes, elements, and characters, the producer says the new title is an independent game and players don’t need previous knowledge of other Honkai titles. 
  • Honkai: Star Rail and Genshin Impact do share some similarities, but the two games differ in their combat scenarios. Genshin Impact is more of a third-person action RPG, whereas Star Rail is a turn-based RPG.
  • Honkai: Star Rail released an official trailer called Interstellar Journey on YouTube on Tuesday, reaching 1.3 million views in around 24 hours. 
  • HoYoverse plans to widely market the game in the following months, introducing the new title at  events including LA’s Anime Expo, Japan Expo, Germany’s Gamescom, and Tokyo Game, according to an official press release. 

Context: Genshin Impact ranked third on the global list of highest-earning mobile games in March 2023, according to Sensor Tower. The same data showed that 50.2% of the title’s revenue comes from the Chinese iOS market, with the Japanese market accounting for 20.2% and the US market accounting for 9%.

Jessie Wu is a tech reporter based in Shanghai. She covers consumer electronics, semiconductor, and the gaming industry for TechNode. Connect with her via e-mail: jessie.wu@technode.com.