Tencent is once again trying to expand its mobile hit Honor of Kings worldwide – Vidak For Congress

Tencent is once again trying to expand its mobile hit Honor of Kings worldwide - Vidak For Congress 1

Honor of Kings, the world’s largest mobile game created by Chinese internet giant Tencent, will release a global version at the end of this year.

That is according to a tweet by Level Infinite, which will publish the overseas version of the Battle Royale game for TiMi Studio, the legendary game development studio in Tencent that introduced Honor of Kings in 2015.

Based in Singapore and Amsterdam, Level Infinite is a publishing house that Tencent founded in 2021 to provide game titles around the world.

This is Tencent’s second overseas attempt to replicate the success Honor of Kings has achieved in China, where users from early teens to servants fight with their friends during short sessions in their busy lives and spend liberally on weapons and costumes. The gameplay has been described by many as a mobile adaptation of League of Legends developed by Riot Games, now majority owned by Tencent.

By 2021, Honor of Kings had accumulated $10 billion in worldwide revenue since launch, making it the most profitable mobile game on Google Play and App Store, according to market analytics provider Sensor Tower.

From January to August last year alone, the title grossed $2 billion, thanks in part to ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns that limited people to home entertainment. Its size dwarfed Brawl Stars, which made $320 million in user spend.

The performance of a game at home does not automatically translate into success abroad. In 2017, Arena of Valor actually launched as a westernized version of Honor of Kings, but it stumbled outside of Asia. In 2019, the US accounted for just 3.5% or $7 million of the game’s total user spending outside of China, or 0.2% of what only Chinese iOS players spent on the game, according to Sensor Tower.

Missteps in “development and marketing,” coupled with a tense relationship between Tencent and Riot Games, were the reasons behind Arena of Valor’s failures in Europe and the US, Reuters reported in 2019.

Aside from internal management issues, critics argued that Arena of Valor had not fully understood user behavior and culture in the West. For example, while Honor of Kings greatly benefits from its integration with Tencent’s ubiquitous messenger WeChat in China, western markets don’t have the exact network equivalent.

So, this new edition of Honor of Kings seems to be Tencent’s steam for a second try. It should come as no surprise that the title is based on Arena of Valor rather than a new development from scratch, as they are both under TiMi. The launch also comes at a delicate time for Tencent, which just recorded its slowest quarter on record as China’s ongoing crackdown on video games and internet monopolies curbed revenue growth.

But the challenge of overseas expansion remains the same for Tencent: Will the game this time find a way to overcome international management and cultural barriers?

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