Ever heard of Honor of Kings or Kings of Glory? No? Well, it might just be the biggest game in the world. With nearly 200 million players each month, the game has become increasingly popular since 2015. Don’t feel too bad though; you’ve probably never heard of it because the game is concentrated in China. This mobile strategy game was created by Tencent, one of the largest Internet and technology companies, and one of the top five biggest firms in the world. The company frequently reports that the game is a big part of its earnings, and because of its extreme popularity, Tencent implemented restrictions on kids under 12 to keep them from playing more than an hour a day.
On December 19th, Tencent set out to do what no one has done before: take the biggest online mobile game global.
Titled Arena of Valor, the revamped version of the game for western audiences has an internal team in Tencent working to localizing the game for the new markets in aspiration of turning the game into a global hit. While there are no download numbers released as of yet, as of January, the game was charting at number 15 in the Role Playing Games category on iTunes.
In the PC-based games, matches last well over an hour, but for its mobile game, Tencent simplified the traditional MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) games with matches lasting only 15-20 minutes, allowing both casual and serious gamers to join in the fun.
The MOBA game gives each player control of an in-game avatar that has weapons and magic abilities. Using these avatars, players set out on matches between two teams of five players. To win, one side must destroy the opposing team’s base first.
These free-to-play MOBA games have been proved popular. Valve’s Dota 2 hosts an annual esports tournament that had a $24 million prize pool last year, and the year before that League of Legends had nearly 100 million monthly players.
Tencent aims to take these games a step further by designing them specifically for mobile devices from the ground up. It is due to this platform that the game has seen such success in China since mobile gaming is the dominant form. However, due to its lengthy ban and only recent reopening, the gaming market in China differs far from its counterparts in the US and Europe.
In efforts to make the game more appealing for Americans, Tencent has incorporated avatars such as D.C. Comics superheroes Batman and Wonder Woman. The tech giant has also announced that there will be a version created for the Nintendo switch, a portable gaming device.
While the fate of Arena of Valor remains unknown for now, there is no doubt that Tencent’s move to take their MOBA global has changed the entire market.