Tencent allegedly abandons Arena of Valor in the West

Big news in the world of MOBA gaming: Chinese game company Tencent allegedly abandons Arena of Valor after a poor performance in the West. While the game is a wild success in its home country, Arena of Valor met with backlash and conflict. With controversy surrounding it from the get-go, it seemed doomed in the West. Now, Tencent seemingly plans to let the game fizzle out.

Arena of Valor is the westernized version of Tencent’s massive MOBA hit Honor of Kings. It was released on iOS and Android in late 2017 and got a port to the Nintendo Switch in 2018. While Honor of Kings enjoys a roughly $3 million daily revenue figure, it took Arena of Valor an entire year to hit that number. In Europe and the United States, Arena of Valor only has a player base of 250,o00, whereas Honor of Kings reached 200 million players at its peak. (Though it is worth noting that the number was closer to 70 million before a prominent Chinese newspaper called the game “poison” and Tencent enforced strict game time rules, indicating players likely created more accounts to get more game time in.)

The game’s marketing struggles stem from a few different problems. Riot Games is 100% owned by Tencent, but employees complained that Arena of Valor was a rip-off of their MOBA League of Legends. Tensions were further agitated when Tencent promoted the Arena of Valor esports scene using famous League of Legends players. Riots outcry led to a two-month marketing freeze for Arena of Valor and Riot was from then on allowed to review all marketing campaigns and veto the use of celebrity gamers.

Add company tensions to the fact that Western gamers prefer PC MOBAs to mobile and a poorly-executed and expensive marketing campaign, and it’s clear to see that Arena of Valor had a lot stacked against it. In the words of a Reuters source, Arena of Valor will now “live and die in its own course.”