By the end of this year, the largest mobile game in the world, Honor of Kings, developed by Tencent in China, will be available worldwide.
According to a tweet from Level Infinite, which will distribute the battle royale game in other countries for TiMi Company, the renowned gaming studio under Tencent that released Honor of Kings back in 2015, this is the case.
Level Infinite is a publishing division Tencent established in 2021 to assist them in distributing video games throughout the world. It is based in Singapore and Amsterdam.
This is Tencent’s second effort to replicate the popularity of Honor of Kings in China, where gamers from young adults to professionals combat their friends over brief periods while juggling their busy lives and lavishly spend money on gear. Many people have compared the gameplay to a mobile version of League of Legends, which was created by Riot Games and is now predominately owned by Tencent.
According to market research firm Sensor Tower, Honor of Kings will be the highest-grossing mobile game on Google Play and the App Store by 2021 after generating $10 billion in worldwide sales since its release.
The game earned $2 billion from January to August of last year alone, in part because to ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns that restricted individuals to home entertainment. Its enormity eclipsed the $320 million in user spending earned by Brawl Stars, the game that came in second. According to Level Infinite, the game reached 100 million daily active players in November 2020.
Around Honor of Kings in China, Tencent has created a thriving esports environment that draws players with alluring rewards. The international edition makes a similar effort. According to Level Infinite, an international Honor of Kings tournament with a $10 million prize pool will take place later this year.
The popularity of a game domestically does not guarantee its success abroad. Arena of Valor, which was essentially introduced in 2017 as Honor of Kings’ Westernization, failed to take off outside of Asia. According to Sensor Tower, the US accounted for barely 3.5 percent, or $7 million, of all user spending on the game outside of China in 2019, or 0.2 percent of what iOS users in China alone spent on the game.
Arena of Valor’s shortcomings in Europe and the US were caused by errors in “development and marketing,” as well as a tense relationship between Tencent and Riot Games, according to Reuters in 2019.
Aside from internal management concerns, some said Arena of Valor had underappreciated Western user behavior and culture. For instance, although Honor of Kings greatly benefits from its connection with WeChat, Tencent’s popular messaging app, in China, similar networking options are not available in Western countries.
Therefore, it looks like Tencent is building momentum for a second attempt with this updated version of Honor of Kings. Given that both games lie under TiMi, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the title was created utilizing Arena of Valor’s intellectual property rather than starting from scratch. The launch also occurs at a precarious time for Tencent, which just experienced its weakest quarter ever as a result of China’s escalating crackdown on internet monopolies and video game development.
But for Tencent, the difficulty of foreign expansion remains the same: can the game this time manage to get through management and cultural barriers?