Tencent is working with its US subsidiary Riot Games to develop a mobile version of popular multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game “League of Legends,” Reuters reported, citing three sources with knowledge of the matter.

It is not the first attempt from the two companies at creating a mobile version of the highly profitable MOBA title, which brought in $1.4 billion in 2018. According to Chinese game news outlet GameLook, Tencent and Riot Games had previously created demos for several prototypes.

Tencent declined to comment when reached by TechNode.

Despite the slow progress in the joint venture with Riot Games, Tencent did not leave the market open for competitors. In November 2015, the gaming giant launched China market-oriented “Honour of Kings,” a mobile MOBA title that borrowed heavily from “League of Legends.” “Honour of Kings” is one of the world’s highest-grossing games, earning $4.5 billion globally in cumulative revenue as of March 2019, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower.

Once released in the domestic market, the mobile version of “League of Legends” will compete with “Honour of Kings,” but the competition won’t be fierce and is likely to be beneficial, Liao Xuhua, an analyst from data consultancy firm Analysys, told TechNode.

“It will take a while for the mobile version of ‘League of Legends’ to be released in China, possibly not even in 2020. By then, ‘Honour of Kings’ will be nearing later stages of its lifespan and monetization, and the new mobile version could potentially increase the overall size of the MOBA game market as well as become a successor for ‘Honour of Kings,’” Liao said.

“League of Legends” was created by Riot Games in October 2009 and is the world’s most popular PC game in terms of number of monthly unique players. Tencent fully acquired Riot Games in 2015.

Tony Xu is Shanghai-based tech reporter. Connect with him via e-mail: tony.xu@technode.com

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