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Icon Emoji Paimon's Paintings 14 Kamisato Ayato 3
This article uses Western name order when mentioning individuals.

miHoYo (Chinese: 米哈游 Mǐhāyóu) is a video game development and publishing company based in Shanghai, China. In addition to games, the company has created various products such as animated series, novels, comics, music, and merchandise.

Aiming to expand its content production, technology research, and publications outside China, miHoYo launched the brand HoYoverse under Cognosphere Pte., Ltd. in February 2022. Since then, miHoYo has been doing business globally under the brand and has operations in Singapore, Montreal, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Seoul.[1] They employ 5,000 people across these locations.[2]


The letters "H" and "Y" in miHoYo's name come from the names of company founders Haoyu Cai and Yuhao Luo, and the letter "O" was added based on the fact that famous companies such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft contain that letter. Due to "Hoyo" already being registered, "mi" from the VOCALOID software Hatsune Miku was appended to the name. Hatsune Miku was picked because of her popularity among otakus.[3]


Something New, Something Exciting, Something Out of Imagination

—miHoYo's R&D Philosophy


MiHoYo Founding Team

(L-R) Yuhao Luo, Haoyu Cai, Zhicheng Jin, Wei Liu, Qinghua Zhang

miHoYo began with three Computer Science students from Shanghai Jiao Tong University who shared an interest in technology and ACG (anime, comics, and games) culture: Haoyu "Hugh" Cai (蔡浩宇), Wei "Forrest" Liu (刘伟), and Yuhao Luo (罗宇皓). Before establishing the miHoYo name, the three worked on projects together. Their first project was an open-source literature community named FreeWriting,[4] which won them scholarships worth 200,000 RMB at a competition. The FreeWriting website has been defunct since October 2013.[5]

In 2010, the team developed an isometric tile-based game engine called the "Misato Engine" or "Misato2D" using Adobe Flash Player. Katsuragi Misato, a character from the Japanese franchise Neon Genesis Evangelion, inspired the name.[6] Using an upgraded version of the engine,[7] they developed a game called Legend of Saha (娑婆物语)[8] for a Flash game development competition held during the second China Game Developers Conference (CGDC) in July of that year. The team won a cash prize of 30,000 RMB provided by Shanda Games. Shanda Games later outsourced them to develop a mini-game called Bubble Hero (泡泡英雄).[9][10][11]

Studio Business[]

MiHoYo Studio Room

Haoyu Cai shows an artwork of Houkai Gakuen, 2012

First miHoYo Logo

In January 2011,[10] the three students set up the miHoYo studio in the D32 university dormitory at their campus. It was during this time that Haoyu Cai came up with their motto "Tech Otakus Save the World" (技术宅拯救世界 Jìshù Zhái Zhěngjiù Shìjiè).[12] Later that year, Wei Liu, representing the group, participated in the Xinxin Entrepreneurial Talents (新新创业达人) competition and won third place.[13] miHoYo was awarded a 50-square-meter office, located at No. 100 Qinzhou Road, with a term of six months and a 100,000 RMB interest-free loan from the Eaglet Program (雏鹰计划) of the Shanghai Technology Entrepreneurship Foundation for Graduates (上海市大学生科技创业基金会).[14][15] They moved from the dormitory to the office in December.[16] Each person had a desk against the wall, and a large table filled with comics and light novels sat at the center of the room.[11][17][18]

No one had artistic ability, so Qinghua Zhang (张庆华), also known as CiCi, was contacted on Tencent social media. At that time, Zhang was an undergraduate student at the Guangdong University of Technology, School of Art and Design, Department of Animation.[19] He was in the second half of his senior year when he met miHoYo's founders at his internship. The first character he was commissioned to design was Kiana Kaslana, the main character of FlyMe2theMoon. As the only artist on the team, he created every artwork for their early titles.[20][21] Zhang recounted his experience of working at the team's dormitory:

I stayed in Brother Wei's dormitory for some time. When I went out or fetched water, I had to secretly avoid the dormitory supervisor. When I finished my art work and was about to return to Guangzhou to graduate, the day I walked out of the dormitory with my luggage, the supervisor took the initiative to say goodbye to me. In fact, she knew that I was not a student here, but she did not chase me away. This [was] my first impression of Shanghai, [which was] very good.




miHoYo launched FlyMe2theMoon on September 28, 2011, on the App Store as an independent developer.[23] "Fly Me to the Moon," the ending theme song of the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime series, served as the basis of the game's concept. It inspired the team to create a puzzle game about a "magical girl flying [to] the moon."[20][21] The game was developed using the Cocos2D software and the Box2D physics engine. The game's song titled "Moon Trip" was composed by VOCALOID music producer Jianliu Yu (裕剣流) and Lemonjolly wrote the lyrics. Yu used the Hatsune Miku voice bank for the song.[24][25]

FlyMe2theMoon received little financial success, and the three founders only had a monthly income of 4,000 RMB, much less than what their university classmates were earning after graduation.[17]

But you will still choose to continue to do this thing in the end. So when I say whether you love it or not, it is not a matter of words, it is a matter of honesty. The more you do the work you love, the more you will be moved by yourself, and the more you will be able to accept challenges and face difficult times.


— Wei Liu[26]

In search of an investor, Liu represented the team in various university startup contests. The non-mainstream status of anime and gaming culture in China posed a challenge, and that their group was composed of university graduates also made it difficult. After being turned down in these contests, they eventually got an angel investment of 1,000,000 RMB from Hangzhou Skye Network Technology Co., Ltd. (杭州斯凯网络科技有限公司). It was miHoYo's only outside funding.[16][21]

Company Founding[]

On February 13, 2012, Shanghai miHoYo Network Technology Co., Ltd. (上海米哈游网络科技股份有限公司) was officially established.[27] Zhicheng Jin (靳志成), a member of the FlyMe2theMoon development team, left in March to take up a job offer at Cisco Systems (China) Research & Development Co., Ltd. (思科系统(中国)研发有限公司). He had left the company "out of consideration for the stability of [his] personal development" and transferred his equities to Wei Liu and Yuhao Luo.[28][29] During that time, Jin did a small amount of program development work and did not participate in company management. His withdrawal did not adversely affect company operations. Qinghua Zhang first worked as an artist at 4399 Network Co., Ltd. (4399网络股份有限公司) before he joined miHoYo Co., Ltd. in February 2012 as an art director and one of the supervisors. Haoyu Cai legally represents the company and serves as its chairman and general manager; he is also the controlling shareholder and the actual controller. Wei Liu and Yuhao Luo serve as directors.[19][30]

Houkai Gakuen[]

Zombiegal Kawaii

Moving on from FlyMe2theMoon, the team envisioned a more successful game. Inspired by several games, including the side-scrolling shooter game Zombie Town, Revelations: Persona, Lollipop Chainsaw, and their shared interest in the Japanese anime-manga series Highschool of the Dead,[31] they created their first game since the company's founding: Houkai Gakuen, also known as Zombiegal Kawaii.[20] The project began in December 2011, and development started in February 2012. In order to achieve the ideal quality of the game, the team made efforts have been made to optimize the game,[31] and it took them three months to create four or five demos for the game. The game was developed with the Unity engine (versions 3.2 to 3.5) and the Autodesk Maya computer graphics software. Within the next eight months, they expanded the gameplay with adjusted values and added systems. The game's first version came in November 2012,[32] and the first public testing was done in December.[19]

When the team submitted the game to Apple to be reviewed, it was rejected for violating two points of their review guidelines: 15.1 stating "Apps portraying realistic images of people or animals being killed or maimed, shot, stabbed, tortured or injured will be rejected"; 16.1 stating "Apps that present excessively objectionable or crude content will be rejected."[31][33]

After communicating with the Apple review team by email and phone multiple times, we finally found out that the zombie girls in the game were too cute. Since the game also has a high school setting, the Apple review team mistakenly thought that the "enemies" the protagonist was shooting were chibi girls, and that it might've been too violent or gory. So we lessened some of the shooting special effects. With all the back-and-forth, we had to modify everything three times in order to pass the review.


— Wei Liu, 2012[31]

The game was released on the App Store in December 2012. It initially used a monetization model combining download-based charging and item-based charging. In February 2013, the game switched to only item-based charging. As their first attempt in the field of mobile games, Houkai Gakuen played an important role in miHoYo's future operations. Through the research and development of the game, the team accumulated a large amount of market experience and customer data during the game's operation and marketing, which provided valuable experience for the development of their subsequent works.[19]

Houkai Gakuen 2[]

Gun Girls Z

There are many reasons why we made Houkai Gakuen. When making this type of game, there was not much thought into the details. We wanted to make a game we want to play so we did it. We discovered that the top-ranking games at the App Store didn't have the types of games we wanted to play, so we made our own. The reason is that simple.


— Haoyu Cai, 2014[32]

Throughout the year 2013, uncertainty surrounded the future of the company as there was not much money at hand. By July, a firm decision was made to continue the Honkai brand, and so the Houkai Gakuen 2 project (also known as Guns Girl Z) was launched. In August, the team began working on server structure design and generation, and the work on the peripheral system and game graphics came in November. Compared to the first Houkai Gakuen game, the production of Houkai Gakuen 2 was shorter because it used the underlying data, art assets, and core gameplay of the previous game, thus shortening the time and costs of research and development.[12][19] The core gameplay was further developed by copying and then converting the system of the game Puzzle and Dragons (智龙迷城) into an action game, a process that took three months. The content taken from Houkai Gakuen got expanded with the addition of new characters, weapons, and clothing sets. The testing came on January 26, 2014, and then the game was released in March on the Bilibili platform.[12][32] The only overseas market miHoYo was involved in was Japan, where Houkai Gakuen 2 became a hit.[34]

After its launch, the game quickly achieved monthly revenue exceeding 10 million Yuan. Despite the financial success, many technical problems like top-up failure and server downtime came. On the third day after the game's launch, the server had crashed, and Haoyu Cai was prompted stay in front of the computer since then to manually restart the server every few hours. Since the company did not have dedicated customer service, Wei Liu took on the responsibility of handling players' complaints. For a team only composed of seven people, the situation was difficult. Later, the company ended up employing its players as staff, starting in 2014 when they had hired their first employee in two years.[12][20] Wei Liu attributed the main reason for the success of Houkai Gakuen 2 to the development of the times and the (ACG) industry:

In 2014, the era of domestic animation has arrived, and the whole domestic animation industry has ushered in an outbreak. We are just very lucky to become a benchmark in this round of outbreak, and become a part of the industry to boost and then take off.


Within the same year as the game's launch, the Honkai Impact 3rd project began at the same time the company envisioned creating the "Honkai universe."[35][36] Houkai Gakuen 2 was also the start of miHoYo's music studio HOYO-MiX. The music team first involved Jinhan "Zoe" Cai (蔡近翰), Yujie "JODODO" Zheng (郑宇界), Yihan "Sya" Xia (夏轶瀚), and TetraCalyx.[37]

Honkai Impact 3rd[]

Further information: Honkai Impact 3rd
Honkai Impact 3rd

The Honkai Impact 3rd project began in June 2014.[19] On July 6, Haoyu Cai attended the GameLook Game Open Day conference in Shanghai, where he made a lecture on the development and promotion of Houkai Gakuen 2. There, he mentioned that the team was working on the third version of Houkai Gakuen and that its core gameplay was in progress.[38] Compared to the previous games in the series, the word "Houkai" in the game's title was intentionally replaced with the made-up "Honkai."[39]

In March 2015, miHoYo started developing its engines for the game. They created a physics-based animation system; it can simulate the performance of various bodies based on physical formulas, showing more realistic character movements and destructive scene effects. It can also correct abrupt transitions between animations, making the animations smoother and more natural. In addition, miHoYo developed its technologies for 3D modeling, light mapping, and real-time and pre-rendering systems. Content production for the game began in October 2015.[19] Creative influences on the combat gameplay were the game series Bayonetta and Devil May Cry.[40] The development team also studied games like Guilty Gear Xrd, which used 3D cel-shading. Since no one knew how to do 3D projects, it was challenging to transition from 2D to 3D. Creating the artwork, model, and animation of Kiana Kaslana took six months. After a test run, the team discarded the work and restarted from scratch to establish the current system.[20]

Testing and Release[]

Honkai Impact 3rd had its internal iOS beta in March 2016,[41] launched in September,[16] publicly tested, and then released in October.[19][42] Recurring characters such as Kiana Kaslana, Raiden Mei, and Bronya Zaychik appear in a story different from previous games. Its gameplay involves role play and hack-and-slash action and also features gacha mechanics. In addition to the game, it was followed by multiple supplementary media such as an anime series, graphic novels, comics, and promotional videos.

Though miHoYo's early titles were successful within Asia, the company did not reach global success until the release of Honkai Impact 3rd.[43] Months after its release in Mainland China, the following servers opened: February 22, 2017, for Japan; May 18, 2017, for Taiwan; October 17, 2017, for South Korea; November 1, 2017, for Southeast Asia; March 28, 2018, for North America and Europe. After being a mobile-exclusive game, Honkai Impact 3rd was made available for PC on December 26, 2019.[44]

Company Growth and IPO Application[]

By April 2017, the seven-person company grew to include around 270 employees,[34] Over 100 were involved in research and development.[40] The average age of these employees was 29 years old; people under the age of thirty accounted for 84% of the company's employees.[19][45] Four years later, the employee count grew to over 1,000.[46] Several musicians joined the HOYO-MiX team for Honkai Impact 3rd: Qi "Gon" Gong (宫奇), Jinghao "Hao" Li (李敬浩), Chunqing "Eyn" Yin (尹纯青), and Chi "Vinchi" Wen (文驰).

On February 15, 2017, miHoYo filed for an initial public offering (IPO) to the China Securities Regulatory Commission when the company was planning to raise over a billion Yuan. During the process, several concerns were under attention, including the company's dependence on a single intellectual property, the Honkai series. The main source of miHoYo's revenue was Houkai Gakuen 2, accounting for 96.34%. The risk is that the company may not be able to continue to launch new products to meet the needs of players or update the content of their games, and they could face the loss of users. Another issue is that the company might fail to grasp changes in preferences, and the Honkai series loses appeal.[19] On December 19, miHoYo submitted an updated prospectus that included Honkai Impact 3 in its revenue, accounting for 98.82% with Houkai Gakuen 2.[47] Due to unknown reasons, miHoYo withdrew its IPO application in 2020.[28][42][48]

Official Gamer Forums[]


In November 2018, miHoYo launched its official gamer community Miyoushe[49] (米游社 "Miyou Club"), also known as miHoYo BBS.[50][51] While used to disseminate official game information and event peripherals, it also features practical tools for players, such as calculators and character-building simulations. It also serves as a content creation platform for players.[52] miHoYo Forums, the global counterpart of miHoYo BBS, launched on January 16, 2020. It was announced as the official forum for Genshin Impact. Later, it got a new brand, "HoYoLAB." The HoYoLAB app had its closed beta testing starting on June 1, 2021,[53] and launched on July 15.[54]

On miHoYo BBS, the mascot Miyou-ji (米游姬 "Lady Miyou"), named the "Big Boss of Miyoushe," was revealed on April 30, 2020.[55] Miyou-ji has different themed costumes following miHoYo's games.[56] Alongside Miyou-ji is the rabbit that appears in the forum's logo. HoYoLAB's mascot is Mimo, who also appears as the logo.

Tears of Themis[]

Tears of Themis

On July 29, 2019, the first promotional video of Tears of Themis was released.[57] Compared to miHoYo's previous titles, the story also takes place in a science fiction setting; the difference being that the storyline is delivered through a visual novel format and includes significant romantic elements. Qixiang "Frex" Yang (杨启翔) and Anyu "non_ay" Wang (汪安于) joined HOYO-MiX as composers for the game.[58] The game was released on July 30, 2020, in Mainland China.[59] In 2021, the global version of the game had its beta testing from April to May,[60] and the pre-registration period began in June.[61] Tears of Themis was later released on July 29.[62]

Genshin Impact[]

Genshin Impact

When Honkai Impact 3rd went online and achieved a measure of results in September 2016, we began to think—and continued to think for around half a year—about what our next product was going to look like. For most of the first half of 2017, we were very anxious. What sort of product would we find "exciting" and "out of imagination?" So we returned to the beginning, to the question of "what sort of game would we want to play?" During that period, the thing we were playing most was open-world games, and these games all featured huge worlds and exploration experiences that surpassed our expectations. So, since we want to play these games, and are willing to make this sort of game, why don't we just do it? It was with this simple feeling that we began working on this project in 2017. But we realized later on that we had greatly underestimated the difficulty of creating an open world.

20169月,《崩坏3rd》上线并取得一定成绩之后。在接下来半年里,我们一直在思考下一款产品应该做成什么样子。整个 2017 年上半年我们都非常地焦灼,到底做什么样的产品才会让我们自己觉得 exciting、觉得 out of imagination。这又回到了我们的初心,就是我们自己想玩什么东西。那段时间,我们玩最多的是主机的开放 世界游戏,这些游戏所带来的都是非常宏大的世界观和超出预期的探索体验。那么既然我们自己想玩这样的游戏,而且又愿意去做这样的游戏,我们就去做吧。就是抱着这样一个非常简单的想法,我们从 2017 年开始做这个项目。但后来我们才发现,我们大大低估了开放世界的制作难度。

— Wei Liu, 2020[63]

Genshin Impact began its development in January 2017 with the working title "崩坏4."[64][65] At that time, Haoyu Cai considered creating a new project to enhance miHoYo's core research and development capabilities and present products with significant quality improvement to players in the future. The idea of creating an open-world game came out of that. This, according to Wei Liu, was "undoubtedly a bold decision" as open-world games have demanding performance requirements for devices.[66] During the next seven months, the development team tried several prototypes. After Cai played Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the team took inspiration from the game's world exploration experience. Other inspirations came from the random events of Grand Theft Auto, the strategy of Divinity: Original Sin, and game developer Naughty Dog.[67]

Production and Release[]

The production team initially had 150 people. They underestimated the difficulty of creating an open world, so it grew to 300 people by mid-2019,[67] then 500 by April 2020,[68] and then 700 by February 2021.[69] The research and development cost of the project began with 25 million USD and then exceeded 100 million, which was recouped two weeks after the game's release.[16][70] Much of the game's budget was invested in music production. Yu-Peng Chen (陈宇鹏), also known as Zhiyi Chen (陈致逸), joined the HOYO-MiX team as a music producer and composed the scores for the Mondstadt and Liyue regions.[71] Qinghua Zhang served as senior art director.[72]

Genshin Impact had its first beta testing in June 2019, focused on core gameplay mechanisms and the Mondstadt region.[73] In early 2020, the overseas promotion of the game was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Development also got delayed by a month as working from home was almost impossible, and employees could not access office equipment.[74] The second beta testing came in March, which featured the Liyue region, and then the third beta testing came in July. The game was released on September 28, 2020.[75]

List of Products[]

English Chinese Japanese
2011 FlyMe2theMoon
2012 Zombiegal Kawaii 崩坏学园
Bēnghuài Xuéyuán
2014 Guns Girl Z 崩坏学园2
Bēnghuài Xuéyuán 2
Houkai Gakuen
2016 Honkai Impact 3rd 崩坏3
Bēnghuài 3
Houkai 3rd
2018 miHoYo BBS 米游社
2020 HoYoLAB
Tears of Themis 未定事件簿
Wèidìng Shìjiànbù
Mitei Jikenbo
N0va Desktop 人工桌面
Réngōng Zhuōmiàn
Genshin Impact 原神
2023 Honkai: Star Rail 崩坏:星穹铁道
Bēnghuài: Xīngqióng Tiědào
Houkai: Sutaa Reiru
2024 Zenless Zone Zero 绝区零
Jué Qū Líng
Zenresu Zoon Zero


  • One of the main artworks of FlyMe2theMoon was lifted from "Origin of TYPE-MOON - TYPE-MOON Special Book," which was included in the October 10 issue of the Comptiq magazine.[76]
  • 米忽悠 is nickname given to miHoYo by Chinese players where 哈游 hāyóu in the company's name is replaced with the internet buzzword 忽悠 hūyōu, meaning to trick, deceive, or fool. It was popularized through the comedy skit titled "卖拐" performed by Benshan Zhao (赵本山), Wei Fan (范伟), and Xiumin Gao (高秀敏) at the 2001 CCTV New Year's Gala.[77]
    • In July 2020, miHoYo attempted to register 米忽悠 as a trademark. However, the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) dismissed the application.[78][79]
  • In June 2022, the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) approved miHoYo's publication of the mobile game property "科契尔前线 Kēqì'ěr Qiánxiàn."[80] Since then, no official news on the product has been made.

External Links[]



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