Although Honour of Kings ranked the world’s highest grossing iOS game in March and April this year, this is the first time for it, or any Chinese gaming titles, to take the crown for iOS and Google Play, a special feat given Google’s weak presence in China.
Launched in November 2015 by Tencent’s Timi Studio, Honour of Kings is very similar to League of Legends, which sees players battle beasts in a fantasy landscape. Despite the similar visual style and gameplay mechanics, Tencent has managed to successfully localize to China with subtle changes in a mobile-first product strategy, local culture-based characters, and simpler controls.
Tencent’s 2016 annual report showed that the game had over 200 million registered users and over 50 million daily active users, roughly the total population of South Korea.
Tencent’s huge user base from WeChat and QQ, which have hundreds of millions of users in the country, has always been a huge resource to draw upon in terms of acquisition and promotion. Unsurprisingly, Honour of Kings growth is in part driven by WeChat and QQ users who made in-app purchases on game items.
The game has generated revenue of RMB 10.7 billion in Q4 last year. Local media reports that its DAU surged to 80 million during the Lunar New Year in February this year.
Honour of Kings’ success comes while a series of Chinese game developers are gaining momentum. App Annie’s report shows that Chinese content producers snapped four places on the Top-10 grossing iOS app list for May. Tencent took the top place, followed by runner-up NetEase. CMGE and Longtu Game took the 8th and 10th spot respectively in the global market.