What made this Chinese “live action” dating simulator skyrocket in popularity?
Chinese developer intiny launched Love is All Around on October 18 for the PC (Steam/Epic Games). The game has since soared in popularity, peaking at 40,000~60,000 concurrent players on Steam for multiple days in a row. The game’s unique live action format seems to be a growing trend in China, but what are the reasons for the genre’s popularity?
Love is All Around is an adventure dating simulation, in which the player assumes the role of the protagonist Gu Yi, who encounters 6 beautiful women of different styles and personalities. The player makes various decisions and follows a branching storyline as all the women grow increasingly interested in Gu Yi. The unique feature of the game is that it takes the form of an interactive video. The in-game footage is all live-action, and the player progresses through the story by selecting points of interest and making dialogue choices in a point-and-click format.
The unique game launched on October 18, and its popularity almost instantly skyrocketed on Steam. Love is All Around has already recorded a maximum of 65,000 concurrent players, and consistently has tens of thousands of players playing every day (SteamDB). The first-person perspective, live-action footage as well as the “harem-like” storyline in which the player assumes the role of a desirable protagonist are all elements that seem to be contributing to the game’s popularity.
As the title originates from China, a big portion of Steam reviews come from Chinese-speaking users. The success of Love is All Around also seems to testify to the recent strong popularity of adventure games that use live action footage among Chinese players. Other largely successful examples include The Invisible Guardian, a live-action game featuring a spy of the Chinese Communist Party, and the historical game Underdog Detective.
But what are the reasons for the growing popularity of live-action games and more specifically, the hit romance title Love is All Around? According to our Chinese staff, multiple factors may be in question. A major possible reason could be the recent popularity of web series – there seems to be multitudes of web series of all kinds of genres being created in China, and the culture of watching web dramas seems to be at its peak (Baidu Encyclopedia).
The formation of a solid base of web drama fans could have contributed to live-action video games becoming a thing, as the simple point-and-click format is easy for non-gamers to pick up. Chinese game developers likely saw the potential of such games among web series consumers.
Against this backdrop, Love is All Around was further boosted by numerous let’s play videos and similar content by popular creators on the Chinese video streaming platform bilibili. Furthermore, the game is an indulging harem fantasy. The developers explain how they initially intended to depict a “regretful yet memorable love story” based on their own experiences with love and heartbreak, but ultimately decided that people experience enough of unhappy love in real life, and changed the story to an idyllic fantasy that would be comforting to players.
It’s reported that in China, young people are growing increasingly alienated from romance and marriage, and that the resulting declining birthrate is a social problem (Yomiuri TV News). Looking at the Steam reviews for Love is All Around, a lot of users seem to report “finding solace in the game” and appreciate how it lets the player immerse in a fantasy romance not possible in-real life. This kind of effect might be exactly what the developers were going for.
It’s also worth mentioning that the game is sufficiently popular with English-speaking users as well, with reviews telling of “feeling loved for the first time” thanks to the game. At the same time, some players seem to report their feelings of loneliness and depression being exacerbated by the idyllic happiness the game provides.
Written by. Amber V based on the original Japanese article (original article’s publication date: 2023-11-05 12:02 JST)