Tencent's Honor of Kings is now officially the biggest mobile game in the world. It's become the first mobile title to break $10 billion in revenue worldwide and is the main driver of the increasingly successful mobile MOBA market.
Why is the Tencent MOBA Honor of Kings so successful?
Honor of Kings, which launched in the West as Arena of Valor, is hugely popular in the Asian mobile market. It's far and away the most popular MOBA in China, beating out competitors like Riot's League of Legends (also owned by Tencent) and Valve's Dota 2 in that territory. According to a report by data analysis platform Sensor Tower, Asia accounts for a staggering 84% of the world's mobile MOBA market, which would explain how Honor of Kings has managed to surpass $10 billion in revenue. Since Arena of Valor counts as a separate release to Honor of Kings, the game's impressive $10 billion figure doesn't even factor in the Western release (although it hasn't performed particularly well outside of Asia, so perhaps that's for the best).
Honor of Kings' success is the main contributor to an impressively successful global mobile MOBA market. Sensor Tower estimates that the market generates $300 million per month, driven by Honor of Kings but also comprising mobile titles like Supercell's Brawl Stars and Riot's League of Legends: Wild Rift. In the US, Brawl Stars is far and away the most popular mobile MOBA, but it has only accumulated $320 million in accumulated worldwide user spending, making Honor of Kings far and away the clear winner when it comes to the global mobile MOBA market.
How does Honor of Kings' success compare to non-MOBA titles?
As you might expect, in the West, non-MOBA titles rule the roost when it comes to revenue. Even the highest-grossing Western mobile games don't compare to Honor of Kings, though. Pokemon Go, Candy Crush Saga, and Fortnite are some of the highest-grossing non-MOBA games, but even they only top out at around $1.1 billion apiece, a figure that pales in comparison to Honor of Kings' mighty haul. In fairness, games like Fortnite and Minecraft tend to make most of their money on non-mobile platforms, but this still demonstrates that Honor of Kings is unmatched in the global mobile MOBA space. Perhaps Wild Rift will give it a run for its money as time goes on, but right now, appropriately enough, Tencent's MOBA (Honor of Kings, not any of the others) is the undisputed king of mobile revenue.
There are a couple of factors that might challenge Honor of Kings' dominance, though. As Sensor Tower's report reveals, despite overall revenue growth, the number of mobile MOBA downloads actually declined during the second quarter of 2021. This might worry Tencent, as Honor of Kings never really took off outside of Asia. In addition, the political climate in China is getting more hostile towards gaming. Xi Jinping and the Chinese government recently cracked down on gaming, describing it as "spiritual opium" and limiting minors to just 3 hours of gaming a week. Earlier this year, Tencent's stock plummeted due to fears the gaming market would become more volatile in response to Xi Jinping's party's hostility towards it.
There's also the emergence of competitors like Pokemon Unite, which boasts the biggest mobile MOBA launch ever, breaking 15 million total downloads in just two days. League of Legends: Wild Rift will also likely prove more and more challenging to Honor of Kings' reign as it establishes itself as a major player. Stay tuned for more info about this.
Do you play Arena of Valor? What's your go-to mobile MOBA? Let us know in the comments below!