On March 8, the highest-grossing mobile game in China, Honor of Kings (HoK), launched in Brazil, marking the Tencent TiMi Studio Group game’s first foray into the global market. The number of pre-registered HoK players in Brazil before the MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) title’s launch exceeded 2 million, quickly making it the most downloaded free mobile game in the country, according to a report from Chinese financial media outlet Baijing.

Why it matters: The Brazilian launch is a key part of Tencent’s global expansion as the Chinese gaming giant looks to overseas markets amid continued uncertainty at home due to heavy regulation and sluggish consumer spending. The team behind Honor of Kings hopes its experience in Brazil will lay a solid foundation for its future launch in other regions, such as Mexico, Egypt and Turkey, according to Tencent’s overseas game distributor Level Infinite.

  • Tencent is increasingly relying on the overseas gaming market for growth. In its 2022 third-quarter financial report, Tencent’s global market revenue reached RMB 11.7 billion, more than one-third of its domestic game revenue RMB 31.2 billion.

Details: HoK released a series of high-quality cinematic trailers on YouTube ahead of its Brazilian launch. The pre-registration trailer Hey Brazil received 2.3 million views on YouTube in its first month.

  • Tencent has set up dedicated servers in Brazil for a smoother gaming experience in the country. The firm also employed well-known Brazilian voice actors for the characters in the Brazilian version of Honor of Kings, alongside localization of in-game text, user interfaces, and character designs.
  • HoK was released in Brazil on the iOS App Store, Google Play Store for Android, and Samsung Store, with the title offering 5v5 Matchmaking, 5v5 Quick Mode, 5v5 Ranked Match, 1v1 Solo Mode, and a newly created Casual Mode called the Infinite Brawl.
  • Level Infinite first announced on Twitter last June that HoK would be launched globally by the end of 2022. However, this was later postponed until this year, with the company partly blaming the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Context: In February 2023, Tencent’s Honor of Kings remained the highest-grossing game app in China, earning about $113 million in monthly revenue. In 2022, Honor of Kings generated over $2.2 billion in revenue, making it one of the top-grossing mobile games of all time.

  • At an event celebrating Honor of Kings’ seventh anniversary held in November 2022, Tencent provided new details on its plans to build a “universe” around the hit game, teasing a range of spin-off titles including chess and Street Fighter-style battle games.
  • According to Chinese media outlet Sina, Brazil is the largest gaming market in Latin America, generating $1.84 billion in revenue in 2022. Among the gamer population in Brazil, the proportion of young players aged between 18 and 24 is relatively high, accounting for more than 20%, which benefits MOBA games that need a high level of DAUs (daily active users) and appeal to this demographic.
  • In recent years, Chinese gaming companies have increasingly looked to overseas markets for growth. In the top 100 list of highest-grossing mobile games in the global market, Chinese game publishers account for 40% of the US market, 43.1% of the Japanese market, and 49.1% of the Korean market, according to Chinese data research firm CNG’s Global Mobile Game Market 2022 report.
  • Chinese gaming giant Tencent doubled its stake in AAA game title developer and publisher Ubisoft to around 10% in 2022, a move it followed by taking a 20% stake in Korean studio Shift Up.

READ MORE: Chinese gaming companies go overseas as home growth slows

Jessie Wu is a tech reporter based in Shanghai. She covers consumer electronics, semiconductor, and the gaming industry for TechNode. Connect with her via e-mail: jessie.wu@technode.com.