Tencent’s Honor of Kings (known as Arena of Valor in the West) frequently finds a spot among the top grossing mobile games each month. Mobile analytics tracker Sensor Tower noted that the popular MOBA had garnered an incredible $10 billion in lifetime revenue worldwide as of last year. And yet, much of that success has been driven by strong interest and a robust esports ecosystem in Honor of King’s domestic market. Tencent understands, however, that if it is able to tap into enough interest in the game in overseas markets, it could see far greater success than it already has.
According to Tencent’s new studio Level Infinite, the plan is to do just that. The developer recently tweeted out, “We will be rolling out Honor of Kings by TiMi Studio Group to you global gamers by the end of this year! Rounds of closed beta tests will be gradually announced starting next month.”
This is not the first time that Tencent has tried to gain more global traction with the IP. Arena of Valor launched as the Westernized version of the game in 2017, but it failed to have a large impact on overseas markets, with one source close to Tencent admitting to Reuters in 2019, “In those markets, we are really just letting it live or die on its own course.”
The source noted that the game only had around 100,000 daily active users in Europe and 150,000 in North America. By contrast, Tencent claimed it had 100 million daily active players for Honor of Kings in China by 2020.
For the firm’s second attempt, it’s believed that Tencent will do less to Westernize it and plans to release largely the same game as the one enjoyed by millions in China. The decision to leverage more global markets also comes at a time when Tencent recorded a much slower quarter amid a games crackdown from Beijing and a fiercely competitive domestic market. In fact, Level Infinite was formed last year with the express purpose of bolstering Tencent’s presence in overseas markets.
If Honor of Kings succeeds in more regions of the world, there’s a good chance that a more vibrant esports ecosystem will follow. Level Infinite is already planning a global Honor of Kings tournament for later this year with a $10 million prize pool. According to Interpret’s New Media Measure: Global Profiles™, Level Infinite has work to do in growing interest around Honor of Kings, but the studio certainly isn’t starting from scratch as gamers outside China, especially in other Asian countries, have spent some time playing the game in the past three months.
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