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Honor of Kings set for June 20th global launch after $15 billion+ revenue in China

Tencent takes another stab at taking its blockbuster MOBA to global markets
Honor of Kings set for June 20th global launch after $15 billion+ revenue in China
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Tencent’s mobile MOBA Honor of Kings has been a smash hit success in China, becoming one of the most successful mobile games ever.

Now it's coming to global markets again on June 20th as the publisher takes another shot at creating an international hit.

China blockbuster

According to AppMagic estimates, the title, developed by TiMi Studio and first launched in 2015, has generated $15.6 billion in lifetime revenue to date on China's App Store alone.

But attempts to take the game to the rest of the world have not been so successful in the past. The title has had many names across various countries - most notably Arena of Valor, which continues to operate.

That title, still available in Western markets, hasn’t scratched the surface of Honor of Kings’ success, generating $71 million to date, according to AppMagic (not including other localised versions like Penta Storm in South Korea).

That was despite a big partnership with DC to bring characters such as Batman to the game, in an effort to make the title more appealing to new audiences.

Back in 2019, it was reported that Tencent’s overseas marketing and sales team for Arena of Valor had been disbanded following a lacklustre performance in the West - claims that the company denied.

It was another high profile example of the challenge in making MOBAs work on mobile in the West - reserved for a select few that includes Moonton’s Mobile Legends and Supercell’s innovative take with Clash Royale. Those titles have cleaned up the space with billions of dollars in revenue.

Riot Games’ League of Legends: Wild Rift (also owned by Tencent) remains a steady performer, though even the Western version of that game is outperformed greatly by its counterpart in China, generating 4x revenue, AppMagic estimates.

Going global, again

Tencent isn’t giving up, though. Pre-registration has opened up today for the global rollout of Honor of Kings - which will operate separately from Arena of Valor. The title will then launch worldwide on June 20th in markets including North America, Europe, Japan and more.

“Both developed by TiMi studios, Honor of Kings and Arena of Valor are two different MOBA titles derived from one IP system,” Honor of King’s chief designer Dean Huang tells

“They offer a very different gameplay experience, art styles and social interactions, to meet the increasing and diversified appetite from global gamers. So we encourage players to try both and choose whichever is more suitable for them.”

The international version of the title will feature new IP partnerships overtime, as well as regionally relevant events and collaborations. The studio insists the game is not ‘pay-to-win’, as can be prevalent in China’s market, as it wants an game accessible to all players.

Asked why this time is different to bring Honor of Kings to global markets, given how notoriously difficult it is to launch a MOBA, Huang says the team has noticed a “thriving trend of mobile esports games” in Western markets in recent years”.TiMi believes this represents a new opportunity for Honor of Kings.

“Games such as PUBG Mobile have shown promising performance,” says Huang. “We believe that through continued investment and refined operations, Honor of Kings can also achieve such success.”

To that end, TiMiis investing $15 million to develop a “comprehensive global esports ecosystem”, including the Open Series and Invitational. The game is also set to feature in the esports World Cup in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which takes place in July.

“Honor of Kings is dedicated to building a global esports ecosystem which nurtures talent from grassroots all the way to the professional esports players,” says the game’s head of esports Feng.

After generating $15 billion+ at home, Tencent is finding another path forward to make Honor of Kings replicate some of that success in international markets.

A tough Western market for MOBAs and the previous failure of Arena of Valor to do that represents a significant challenge for TiMi, but one that it is determined to take on.