Arena Of Valor- Tencent’s Smash-Hit Mobile MOBA With Too Many Names
There’s a huge mobile MOBA game out there made from Tencent’s in-house team, Timi Studios. And depending on who you ask and which media portal that covers it, it has many names. Some call it Honor Of Kings (the name we picked when we first covered it), it also has been translated as Kings Of Glory. The official name, “王者荣耀” (Wángzhě Róngyào) is huge in China, with over 200 million players.
Some might just brushed it off as another League Of Legends rip-off, understandable that China’s gaming scene has a bad rep of copying popular games for their own market- but this is Tencent we are talking about- the gaming industry giant that has a stake in many big companies, including creators of League of Legends, Riot Games.
But then there’s Arena Of Valor (formerly Strike Of Kings), which has also sometimes being referred to as the same game, but sometimes not. It was confusing trying to find details of either games, so when we were invited to a preview event for the mobile MOBA’s launch in Malaysia, we had to ask the folks at Garena, co-developers and also the local publisher for Arena Of Valor- what’s the deal here?
Thankfully, they were happy to explain.
Apparently, Wángzhě Róngyào was designed specifically for the Chinese market. And for the game to go global, they decided to market it as a different game with a different name. Hence, why there is no official translation for the name. However, both Wángzhě Róngyào and Arena Of Valor can be considered the same game- both used the same engine, graphics and gameplay elements.
The big change here is the character cast, with all of Wángzhě Róngyào’s characters based on Chinese history and mythology while Arena Of Valor localised them for the global audience, with familiar tropes and designs. For example, as Quartz Media reported, Daji- a concubine of an ancient Chinese king from the former shares a similar kit to Veera, a sexy demon with wings featured in the latter.
We did however spot Lu Bu as one of the characters for Arena Of Valor, but the military general is famous enough in the gaming scene (he is a recurring character in the Dynasty Warriors series, for example) that he remains intact.
While it is still slowly launching in various markets, with Malaysia getting to join relatively soon, it has made the argument that MOBAs on mobile has its place. China has already been successful, but Tencent is also making strides globally. Remember that MOBA game announced in a Nintendo Direct last September? That was not just a copycat MOBA, that was Arena Of Valor.
The upcoming release of Arena Of Valor to Switch- which led to a partnership between Nintendo and Tencent until 2019- had made an impact on investors, increasing the price stocks for the Japanese console maker.
MOBA still has a huge market in the form of the untapped market in mobile games. It is why Mobile Legends managed to be a household name in Malaysia among gamers and even non-gamers that would have not touch a MOBA before. The accessibility of the game has allowed it to reach a huge audience in a short timespan, enough to start doing esports event.
But Garena is confident that their MOBA offering will be able to compete, citing the game’s incredible polish and deeper gameplay features as a factor. The game looks amazing on a decent mobile phone, an intuitive UI and they even have Hans Zimmer compose the soundtrack. Tencent is using their huge resources to good use here, and it’s telling.
Plus, it has already established its esports footing. Arena Of Valor was seen at Gamescom in partnership with ESL to promote its European release, bringing in big names in Dota 2 and League Of Legends to check it out. Within a year of its release, the game has organised its first international tournament, Throne Of Glory, in Vietnam with a prize pool of 1,500,000,000 VND ($65,000 USD) and over 270,000 peak concurrent viewership for its streams. Garena aims to capitalise that momentum to lunge past the competition here in Malaysia.
While all of this sounds good, what if it is so good people just won’t stop playing it? In China, Tencent had to implement a limited game time for underaged players for Wángzhě Róngyào after there was pressure from various communities due to the game being too addictive. We asked if this will be true for Arena Of Valor.
Thankfully, no. That was a special case in China, and Garena will review first should the need to limit game time is relevant for Southeast Asia. So far gaming addiction in this region is nowhere close to China which has caused severe health issues, like a woman who went blind thanks to a 24-hour session of Wángzhě Róngyào.
But will Arena Of Valor succeed in Malaysia? It has done well enough in the first few countries they released so far. Our hands-on time at the preview event definitely showcased the game in a good light. Chatting up with our media friends in attendance, especially those more familiar with MOBAs, have nothing but positive impressions so far. All it needs is some strong word of mouth (they have an influencer program in the works), and maybe a better way to market that name just so people don’t see it as just some copycat League Of Legends, which is also owned by the same company.