The Arena of Valor (AoV) World Cup 2019 grand finals will kick off on Sunday, where a new world champion will be crowned. The event, which began on June 27 for the group stages, was hosted in Vietnam by Tencent
The multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) AoV is an international adaptation of Honor of Kings (HoK) developed and published by Tencent
It’s fair to say that AoV is likely to become the next king of mobile games after the previous most popular title Player’s Unknown Battleground (PUBG).
According to market analyst Sensor Tower, mobile games earned $29.6 billion across both platforms, up 11.3 percent from the same period last year. HoK made the most money, bringing in $728 million and not including the revenue from China’s third-party Android stores. Additional figures have also indicated that game downloads have also soared to a high of 20.1 billion during the first half of 2019, up 3.2 percent from the same period in 2018.
Rounding up the stats, AoV came in second on the rankings list for consumer spending, right behind Fate/Grand Order. These games were in the exact same spots for consumer spending in the first quarter of 2019, showing that players are still very willing to spend money on micro transactions within them.
The game was also selected last year by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and the Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF) for the 2018 Asian Olympic Games in Jakarta. Following its successful conclusion, it has also been confirmed as an official game title of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines, according to Tencent
Localization beyond just an English version
But how has AoV become such a viral mobile title both in and out of China? AoV’s massive popularity across the U.S. and Europe can mainly be attributed to the ample localizations Tencent
AoV’s art style and character designs mostly included heroes or mythical creatures with European and American features. Instead of embracing a more traditional Chinese style of clothing, characters generally appear more technologically advanced, beastly, or superhero-like while radiating an aura of justice around them. And instead of including popular characters from SNK’s King of Fighters such as Shiranui Mai, which is definitely a popular choice among players across Asia, Tencent
Tencent didn’t just borrow a few trademark elements from these characters to put into the game, but brought them to life by imbuing them with their respective skills, appearance, and voices so Western audiences could get a chance to dominate the battlefield with their favourite DC heroes. Batman, who fights primarily with his fists, is able to conceal himself in the dark just like the original DC character setting. Superman on the other hand, is adept at flying around and quickly engaging the opposition by raining down justice with his fists.
To enrich AoV even more, Tencent
This is wildly different from other mobile games that may have failed to garner popularity outside of China such as NetEase’s Onmyoji series, which received mild ratings on Steam. For the most part, Onmyoji just had an English translation and no other localizations done to it, which may have contributed to it being poorly received outside of China.
Right place at the right time
Mobile games in China have definitely seen a drastic rise in popularity following the release of HoK near the end of 2015. It was a time of ballooning smartphone sales and deflating console sales for Chinese consumers. Popular console manufacturers such as Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo were unable to secure a solid share in the Chinese market, even with the gaming licensing bans imposed by the Chinese government for the most part of 2018.
These harsh conditions for developing games have although hurt game makers outside of China, they made for an ideal breeding ground for domestic companies such as Tencent
Although Apple has announced at this year’s WWDC that it will be rolling out its Apple Arcade service to bring exclusive games to Apple users, it may take more than just a membership subscription for the company to become a major player in the mobile gaming industry. Tencent