miHoYo (米哈游, Mǐ Hā Yóu) is a Chinese video game development studio founded in 2011 by Forrest Wei Liu and Cai Haoyu in Shanghai. Beginning as a small mobile game developer, miHoYo's early titles allowed them to grow into one of the world's more notable mobile developers, who have become famous for pushing the boundaries of what is considered possible on "mobile" platforms and for heavy encouragement of cross-platform play.
They also have an in-house music division called "HOYO-MiX" which composes the songs and BGMs used in their games, and a "miHoYoAnime" division which creates fully-animated 2D video clips.
What was known as the official "miHoYo Forums" for their games got rebranded as "HoYoLAB". Starting in February 2022 with the Version 2.5 update for Genshin Impact, miHoYo rebranded itself as "HoYoverse" as part of its global expansion in various media, and in order to have a name that would be somewhat more understandable and immediately recognizable the world over (the original name having been something of a Mandarin-specific pun).
Games developed or in development by miHoYo:
- Fly Me 2 The Moon: The nascent company's very first game (the group at the time was little more than Forrest Liu, Cai Haoyu and a handful of their college friends from Shanghai Jiao Tong University), released for mobile devices in 2011.
- Zombiegal Kawaii, or Honkai Gakuen: miHoYo's first "true" game and the first installment of the Honkai series, released in 2012 for mobile devices.
- Guns Girl Z, also known as Honkai Gakuen 2: The second Honkai game and overhauled version of Zombiegal Kawaii, as well as miHoYo's first gacha game. Released for mobile devices in 2014 in China, the game was generally seen as responsible for opening up the action game industry in China and proving that such games could both be made profitably and could work on mobile devices, spawning a legion of imitators.
- Honkai Impact 3rd, first released in China on October 14, 2016, with a release in Japan following on February 22, 2017, Southeast Asia on May 1, 2017, Korea on October 17, 2017, Taiwan on November 18, 2017 and globally on March 28, 2018. The third installment of the Honkai series, this is their first heavily globalized game and the successor to GunsGirlZ. This was also the first of their games to truly push what was considered possible on mobile, as in 2016, its graphics were considered impossibly good (and surprisingly compatible with a variety of devices) for mobile platforms. Its wide release was also responsible for people outside of China beginning to take notice of the company.
- Tears of Themis, a Police Procedural-themed Otome Game for mobile devices, released in 2020.
- Genshin Impact, a fantasy open-world Action RPG released on September 28, 2020. Their first simultaneous global release, Genshin is the game that got the company truly massive recognition over the world and is their first release for a game console. A digital card game known as Genshin Impact: Genius Invokation TCG debuted in Version 3.3, featuring several characters from the main game.
- Honkai: Star Rail: The fourth installment of the Honkai series, Star Rail a turn-based RPG set in a parallel universe to Honkai Impact 3rd, and the company's second simultaneous global release. Officially announced at the end of the "Starfire Sonorant" live concert for Honkai Impact 3rd, it released on April 26, 2023, with a PlayStation 5 version released on October 11, 2023.
- Zenless Zone Zero, an urban fantasy action game announced in May 2022.
Other media produced or licensed by miHoYo:
- Cooking with Valkyries
- Honkai Impact 3rd: Second Eruption
- ELF Academy
Tropes associated with miHoYo:
- Author Avatar: "Dawei" from Honkai Impact 3rd and the "Unusual Hilichurl" from Genshin Impact. miHoYo's co-founder, Forrest Wei Liu, has author avatars/fictional characters with a face that's only made up of a pair of eyebrows and the hanzi for "Wei", and wears the standard 3-piece suit.
- All There in the Manual: The official YouTube channels of their individual games may not only contain straightforward trailers, teasers and demos, but also supplemental behind-the-scenes information explaining how they came up with a given concept. For example in Genshin Impact, a video explains the creative inspiration for the Liyue region, while in Honkai Impact 3rd, a video explains the appearance tropes, symbolisms and design motifs for the character Mobius. Some of these videos also provided further plot-relevant details. Being available on an online video platform also allowed them to provide official subtitle captions for other languages.
- Big Anime Eyes: miHoYo has specialized in anime-themed games with the distinctive big anime eyes, since their humble origins in Fly Me 2 The Moon to the recent worldwide success game Genshin Impact. The only subversion is the Otome Game Tears of Themis, which followed smaller (but still anime) eyes as the Seinen and Josei genres.
- Borrowing from the Sister Series: The bow weapon class in Honkai Impact 3rd is essentially a direct copy from how they're used in miHoYo's more popular Genshin Impact, it was even introduced alongside a guest character from the latter. Also, while the game did already include open worlds in a separate mode, ever since Genshin's success, Honkai has begun to feature open worlds more prominently as part of its main story and certain events with a much higher focus on exploration and platforming.
- Bribing Your Way to Victory: Their games have microtransactions, allowing the players to top-up and exchange real money for in-game items and premium currencies. When it became clear that their library mostly consists of Gacha Games, it also meant those who spend more money have more chances of pulling from the gacha.
- CamelCase: Their name, miHoYo, is stylized in this manner (in which the first letter is written in lowercase). This extends to some of their related divisions such as miHoYoAnime, and their rebranded name, HoYoverse.
- Character in the Logo: The logo of their miHoYoAnime division contains a side portrait of Kiana Kaslana on its left.
- Creator Thumbprint:
- The four-pointed star appears in nearly all of the works they are involved in; it's a recurring shape in the Honkai series, a part of the character/object design or an Exotic Eye Design of some characters across their games (e.g. Herrscher of the End, Herrscher of the Void, Kaeya, and all pupils of the characters in Tears of Themis). In Genshin Impact, it's also the shape of the gacha currency, Primogems.
- Cat motifs. As seen from their miHoYo company logo, the first "o" is stylized with cat ears and the second "o" has a tail. Some of their in-game characters also have cat motifs on their designs, or are Cat Girls or Cat Folk.
- The moon is a recurring motif in some of their works, to varying degrees of relevance. As a celestial body in itself or simply as a word, it gets used a lot by miHoYo, creating a complete list for each of the games would be too long.
- Their first game, Fly Me 2 The Moon, is titled after and conceptualized out of inspiration from the song "Fly Me To The Moon", which became iconic to anime fans as the ending song of Neon Genesis Evangelion. That puzzle game was simply about a "magical girl flying onto the moon".
- Near the finale of Guns GirlZ's Retrospective saga, Raiden Mei has tried to seal the Herrscher of the End's power on the moon.
- The story of Honkai Impact 3rd references the fact that the moon itself had Honkai energy, and Kiana Kaslana's moon motifs are abundant (even having crescent moon accessories) to the point where her associations with the Roman goddess of the moon, Diana, became obvious. In the backstories, Kevin Kaslana has also fought the Herrscher of the End on the moon, and in the finale of "The Moon's Origin and Finality", Kiana stays in the moon to fulfill her destiny as the Herrscher of Finality.
- In Genshin Impact, Aria, Sonnet and Canon are the three historical "moon sisters"; the two opening nations, Mondstadt and Liyue, have their names based on the word "moon" of German and Chinese respectively; besides, one of the game's microtransaction elements is named "Blessing of the Welkin Moon".
- The title logo of Honkai Star Rail has a crescent moon on its background.
- A recurring plot device throughout miHoYo's games is characters with Split Personalities, almost always with a supernatural explanation. In Honkai Impact 3rd, this is a characteristic of Herrschers in general, overlapping with Superpowered Evil Side. Genshin Impact features six characters with some sort of split personality, literal or otherwise note , but never with the same excuse.
- Elite Four: miHoYo is also considered as one of the "Big Four" in Shanghai's gaming industry, alongside Paper Games (known for Love Nikki - Dress Up Queen), Lilith Games (known for AFK Arena) and Hypergryph (known for Arknights).
- Kiana Kaslana retroactively serves as this for miHoYo ever since their first game, Fly Me 2 The Moon. She appears in most of their early games, particularly the Honkai series, by having a Reused Character Design based from the protagonist of said first game. Her portrait also makes her the Character in the Logo of their miHoYoAnime division.
- On 2020, the official Chinese forums for the miHoYo games had a female character mascot named "Miyouji", while the rabbit mascot is named "Mimo".
- Reference Overdosed: They love to insert pop culture references to other works of entertainment, but mostly on anime and video games. Since miHoYo's library is mostly made up of live-service games, the list of shout-outs naturally expand as the game ages.
- Reused Character Design: The design of the "magical girl" protagonist in Fly Me 2 The Moon would later be reused for their Honkai games as Kiana. Similarly, various characters appear in different forms and sometimes under different names throughout various games.
- Series Mascot:
- They tend to create specific mascots to promote their specific game IPs or franchises, such as Ai-chan, Paimon, DAVIS, Pom-Pom, and the Bangboos.
- An In-Universe mascot may overlap with these as well, such as the HOMU, a recurring mascot from the world of the Honkai series. It's also referenced in Genshin as the yellow rabbit doll thrown by the Unusual Hilichurl.
- Story to Gameplay Ratio: Generally heavier toward the "Story" ratio from Honkai Impact 3rd onwards.
- Titled After the Song: Back when miHoYo was still a nascent group consisting of few members, they titled their first game Fly Me 2 The Moon primarily because "Fly Me To The Moon" is the iconic ending song of Neon Genesis Evangelion, an anime which they are fans of.
- Virtual Celebrity: The Virtual Youtuber/Virtual Actress YoYo Lumi is a project of miHoYo. She was created using Unreal Engine and motion caption technology, and she also has a N0va Desktop app.