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July 10, 2017

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China’s mega hit ‘Honor of Kings’ set to go global

CHINA’S mega hit mobile game “Honor of Kings” faces a domestic backlash over young players’ addiction, but its march to the global market goes on unabated.

The multiplayer online battle arena game has more than 200 million registered users, with 50 million playing daily.

It was the world’s highest-grossing mobile game in May, according to app market data provider App Annie. Now Tencent, developer of the game, intends to replicate the success beyond the Chinese mainland.

Launched in Taiwan and Vietnam late last year, Honor of Kings is the most downloaded mobile game in both markets, according to Tencent. It was also warmly received in Thailand and the Republic of Korea, where it was released earlier this year.

The game will hit the United States and Europe in the second half of the year, said Gao Min, brand manager at Tencent in charge of the game’s overseas promotion.

The English version was put online in Turkey earlier this year, and topped Apple’s app store and Google play’s game download rankings there.

“We are fully confident of the market response in Europe,” Gao said.

German journalist Finn Mayer recently downloaded the game and is learning the dynamics.

“I already got a better sword,” he said. “It’s very much like League of Legends in Europe and the good old Japanese RPGs (role playing games), including a cute female manga voice.”

He believes the game has great potential but faces strong competition from the US League of Legends.

While Asian users are familiar with the game’s historical and cultural background, it will be a more challenging task to win over western players, Gao acknowledged.

The game features a large number of heroes from Chinese history or literature, such as the invincible warlord Lyu Bu from the Three Kingdoms period (AD 220-280). These characters strike a chord among Asian users who are much influenced by Chinese culture, but may not have the same appeal to western gamers.

To cater to foreign tastes, Tencent has set its sights on bringing some iconic western heroes, including Batman, into the game, said Gao.

In addition, image and sound quality will be improved with background music from Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer. The duration of a single game will be reduced to suit the habits of foreign mobile users.

Despite, or perhaps because of, its huge popularity, Honor of Kings has recently found itself in the eye of a storm of controversy at home.

Tencent saw its market value shrink by US$14 billion as its shares slumped 4.13 percent in Hong Kong last Tuesday, after the People’s Daily accused the game of injecting “negative energy” into society.

A teenager was reported to have suffered a stroke after playing the game for 40 hours nonstop, while another was reported to have stolen money to buy expensive add-ons, according to the People’s Daily commentary.

The company now limits minors’ playing time and is reinforcing the real name system. Overseas, Tencent will follow local regulations and a game classification system is usually in place, Gao said. China has no such system yet.


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