Tencent brings China’s biggest mobile game to the West

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"Arena of Valor" by Tencent
Tencent’s “Arena of Valor” promotional photo. (Facebook/garena.aov)

Chinese technology giant Tencent has managed to develop and market the biggest game in China, “Honor of Kings,” which has an estimated 200 million players monthly. Now, the company is setting its sights on a bigger target: taking the massive game to western markets to turn it into a global hit.

The developer has been reworking “Honor of Kings” under a different title, “Arena of Valor,” for release in the United States and Europe. Tencent has assigned a dedicated team to localize the game for the new target markets. The team has recently released “Arena of Valor” for Android and iOS devices in North and South America.

“Arena of Valor” is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game wherein two teams of five players each control various heroes and battle each other to destroy the opposing team’s base.

The genre was popularized for PC by giant franchises like “Dota 2” and “League of Legends,” which are also popular as e-sports games. Earlier this year, Valve’s “Dota 2” hosted an international tournament with a $24 million prize pool. The Chinese developer also owns Riot Games, who developed “League of Legends.”

Unlike these MOBA pioneers, “Arena of Valor” is available only as a mobile game for the iOS and Android operating system. It was designed by Tencent from the ground up for mobile devices, which is a dominant gaming platform in China.

Aside from the competitive and exciting gameplay, the Chinse company also included a number of social elements into the game to increase its popularity in the country. The game utilizes popular Chinese chat services like QQ and WeChat wherein players can converse with friends or add new ones.

Because Tencent understands that the western markets are different from the Chinese market, it is making considerable changes in “Arena of Valor.” Instead of traditional heroes that were taken from Chinese folklore, the redesigned game includes western heroes like Batman and Wonder Woman.