Genshin Impact's Elon Musk contest sparks the game's weirdest controversy yet
Worlds collided on the evening of October 13, when the perennially aggrieved Genshin Impact fandom crossed paths with memelord and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk. The official account for the highly popular video game posted a highly unpopular Tweet — which it soon deleted — with a bizarre contest centered on the world’s richest person. Musk played along, telling his Twitter followers he “can’t wait” to be in Genshin Impact. So why do some people seem to be in such a lather about it? Here’s everything you need to know about this memeworthy interaction.
Sorry, what is Genshin Impact? Genshin Impact is a free-to-play, open-world RPG video game made by Chinese development studio miHoYo. It’s available on PlayStation, PC, and mobile devices. The game has attracted controversy owing to its use of paid gacha mechanics, in which players can spend real money in order to access more powerful characters and weapons.
Genshin Impact is massively popular worldwide, having grossed more than $2 billion since its 2020 launch.
What Happened: Around 11 p.m. Eastern on October 13, the official Genshin Impact Twitter account sent a message to its 2.4 million Twitter followers, kicking off a new community challenge. It’s not clear if this was a joke — representatives from miHoYo did not respond to a request for clarification from Inverse.
It suggested that fans of the game follow the Ella Musk Twitter account (@Paimon2theMoon), a secondary fan account for Genshin Impact also run by miHoYo, for a series of special rewards. These rewards were quite unique and are listed in full below.
- When 500k fans follow, the Genshin Impact Twitter account will be renamed back to Paimon.
- When 1 million fans follow, @GenshinImpact will follow @ElonMusk
- When 3 million fans follow, @GenshinImpact will invite @ElonMusk to stream Genshin Impact
- When 5 million fans follow, CEO Dawei will invite Elon Musk to visit miHoYo HQ
Who is Ella Musk? Ella isn’t a real person. She’s a non-playable character in Genshin Impact who spends her time inside Mondstadt Library reading books. She’s a scholar in the larger lore, with her namesake likely being a nod to the Tesla CEO.
Her Twitter account is officially maintained by miHoYo and largely serves as the game’s community hub for fans to post and share fan art. The account’s popularity pales in comparison to the main Genshin Impact Twitter handle, though, boasting around 40,000 followers at the start of this community contest. No doubt, while most of the goals are lofty and likely made in jest, this was likely a well-meaning, if wrong-footed attempt to raise the profile of the Ella Musk account and its parent game.
What happened to the original tweet? MiHoYo deleted the challenge tweet from the main Genshin Impact account after several hours. Despite the enormous blowback, the plan sort of worked — the Ella Musk Twitter rose to 61,000 followers in less than 24 hours, almost a 50 percent boost in followers.
How did Elon Musk react? Say what you will about Musk, the man knows a good meme when he sees one. Around 4 a.m. Eastern on October 14, Musk tweeted “can’t wait to be in Genshin Impact” with a rolling on the floor laughing emoji next to the text.
Why the outrage: It’s not immediately clear why miHoYo abruptly ended and deleted the Ella Musk community challenge, though Inverse has reached out to the developer for clarification on the subject.
The contest appears at a turbulent time for the Genshin Impact community, with many fans still frustrated by what they see as skimpy rewards for the game’s first anniversary, which happened back in September. Players widely expected to receive free in-game currency or characters to mark the occasion, leading to the game getting review-bombed on the Google Play store. In the eyes of some players, the anniversary debacle was just the latest in a series of missteps by miHoYo in recent months.
In some ways, the recent community challenge embodies those shortcomings. It was a shameless plot for new Twitter followers that offered fans nothing in return. In effect, it was a community challenge that gave nothing back to the community.
Will Elon Musk actually come to Genshin Impact: Likely not, but, now that Elon has officially shown that he’s at least aware of the game, there may be some far-flung possibility for a collaboration. That laughing emoji, however, strongly suggests the Genshin-Elon ties go no further than Ella Musk.
The Inverse analysis: As is the case with many things involving Elon Musk and social media, this was a truly bizarre turn of events that will serve no purpose other than to fuel the digital clout of all parties involved. MiHoYo was keenly aware how fascinated a certain segment of the population is with the dealings of Elon Musk and effectively exploited that fan base for its own benefit.
We’re definitely not against the idea of video games hosting community challenges to accomplish certain goals, but the community deserves its due rewards. And the timing of this Ella Musk stunt couldn’t have been worse. Hopefully, miHoYo looks beyond the dank memes here and recognizes that some of the community’s complaints are valid.