According to a report from Reuters, Tencent has abandoned Arena of Valor after a rift with Riot Games. The mobile MOBA is the Westernized version of Tencent's flagship title Honor of Kings, highly popular in China, which had 200 million players at one point in 2017, and as of last March has grossed $4.5 billion globally, according to Sensor Tower. The Western version has failed to achieve similar traction among Western audiences.
Last year GamesIndustry.biz published a report with Sensor Tower data on Arena of Valor, which showed it had only generated $3 million in its first year, which Honor of Kings manages on a daily basis. The report also showed that the game only had an average of 100,000 daily active users in Europe, and 150,000 in North America. According to Reuters' sources, these numbers are barely enough to keep the game afloat: "In those markets, we really are just letting it live or die on its own course."
The troubles with the game's performance are attributed to issues with the game's development and Tencent's marketing strategy, as well as a rift with Riot Games, the developer of League of Legends. Riot Games is 100% owned by Tencent, but that didn't stop the developers from complaining that Arena of Valor is basically a rip-off of League of Legends. The relationship between the developer and the parent company was strained further when Tencent used League of Legends players to promote Arena of Valor and its esports tournaments, which caused a two-month freeze in marketing for the game. Eventually the developer had the right to veto the use of those players, and also to review all marketing plans.
Another factor for the game's poor commercial performance might be the fact that hardcore gamers in the West prefer desktop-based titles, such as League of Legends, while Honor of Kings is still a mobile exclusive title on platforms such as Tencent's WeChat and QQ.
This didn't stop Tencent from investing more into the game as the sunk costs accrued. According to another Reuters source, the company "burned a lot of cash" on Arena of Valor, such as a $4.5 million tournament offering a Tesla car as one of the top prizes. This report comes as Riot and Tencent are rumored to have embarked on a journey to bring League of Legends to mobile devices, presumably a title that would replace Arena of Valor at least in western markets.
Are you a player of Arena of Valor? Is the game worth the investment for Western audiences, or is it too specific to the Chinese market? Let us know in the comments below!