The mobile market has been in an explosive rise ever since smartphones and tablets have become a staple. Video games designed for this environment are becoming more popular each year as players continue to dive into this scene with free-to-play titles.
The business model of “freemium” has grown the mobile gaming genre quickly. They have large fan bases and players from around the world. With popularity comes the demand for competition. This lets those who are proficient at these games gain the notoriety they desire and become leaders in the genre.
Nowhere can these stars shine brighter than on the stage of esports!
The Difficult Climb to the Main Stage
The degree to which a game is widespread or not doesn’t necessarily mean that it will have a place to call home in the esports world. There is far more involved in becoming viable in this scene than just being popular. Many mobile games are top-rated, yet will never find a staple point in the competitive arena.
Favorite games may be involved in their own tournaments, but the real test of an esport comes in the form of staying power. The competitive scene has broken itself into specific genres that currently dominate the space.
This leaves companies who are competing in the mobile market with the option of either creating something brand new or finding a way to adapt those already popular genres. The investing giant from China known as Tencent Limited Holdings was up to the task.
The Game Changers
Tencent understood the issues that companies who were trying to push mobile games into the esports scene faced. Frankly, there was already a lot of competition and the market already contained the following…
Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas (MOBA)
First Person Shooters (FPS)
Real-Time Strategy (RTS)
Mass Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games (MMORPG)
Card Collection Games
And varying other styles of games that come and go.
The tournament scene has had its fair share of mobile games, but none that had to stay powerful to rival the top competition. The prize pools for these events were not comparable to other such games that were in the top tier.
Tencent understood that they didn’t need to make something revolutionary but rather capitalize on the successes they already understood. They are owners of Riot Games, who is the company that created the vastly popular game League of Legends.
With their solid background with LoL, Tencent made the decision to venture into one of the most thrilling genres and create a mobile MOBA. They called it Honor of Kings and only released it initially in China.
Honor of Kings utilizes a 1v1, 3v3, and a 5v5 model with multiple lanes just like the famous League of Legends. The game features various heroes from Chinese folklore that are similar in gameplay to LoL characters.
The goal of the game is to fight your way down the lanes to reach the main building of your enemy and destroy it. You must slowly inch your way to the opposing base and defeat all enemies in your path while defending your own base from attackers.
It is a constant tug of war battle where you must make tactical decisions whether to push an attack or protect your base. The wrong choice can result in your team being pushed further back into your base and eventually defeated.
Honor of Kings follows the standard MOBA gameplay model in these regards, but what sets it apart are the platforms that it makes use of. Rather than a monitor, keyboard, and mouse to maneuver your character, you can use your phone or tablet to play from.
The controls work by utilizing a digital joystick on the left side and buttons on the right side, just like console controls. Players will use their thumbs to control the hero rather than mouse clicks like in traditional MOBAs.
The control style has enough elements to give you familiarity allowing you to have quick reflexes on your phone or tablet. Clearly, Tencent is doing something right because Honor of Kings is one the most popular mobile games in China.
By removing the confines that most high-end esports have regarding a computer or gaming console setup, Tencent has found a way to take MOBAs to a whole new player base. Your cell phone or tablet will keep you on the cutting edge.
Popularity Comes at a Price
HoK reported 55 million people playing this game daily at one point. This success has not gone unnoticed by the powerful forces in the government. State-owned, The People’s Daily, newspaper in China called this game a “drug” and “poison” due to its addictive nature.
This message is clearly not something a game wants to be associated with, but there must be a reason for the labeling. In fact, there is. It is incredibly fun and immerses its audience in a real MOBA experience on the go.
No matter how fun it is, Tencent took some pretty hefty stock hits thanks to the tagging of their game as “poison” by the state-owned newspaper. This was not good press for the company regarding their business interests.
However, the labeling proved to be positive news for the gaming world. Tencent was forced to release Honor of Kings to the global market. No longer was this glorious game only being hidden away in China.
Tencent is expected to release a version of Honor of Kings in the US with many excited gamers ready to play.
The game has already been released in Europe with a soft launch under the title Strike of Kings.
The soft launch went great, and the game has since changed to the name Arena of Valor. The game is receiving high regards in Europe and has been very successful.
Rumor has it that Tencent and Nintendo have teamed up to put this popular title onto the Nintendo Switch gaming system. If this deal holds true then HoK may never see the US mobile phone market in any form.
Tencent took further steps in their character additions by securing a deal with Time Warner to feature characters from the DC Comics universe. They have already added such characters as Batman, Superman, and The Joker.
The route that Tencent is taking will grow their game in not only the mobile MOBA world but also the overall audience that it can appeal to. Adding fan favorite characters is clearly an intelligent way to grow their player base and solidify their rise to esport stardom.
Wagering Wrap Up
In conclusion as an esports bettor, it is important to stay up to date with the current hot topic titles to see the possible new stars coming to the scene. Traditionally the teams that have remained at the top have been utilizing home-based, high-end gaming setups.
These players are accustomed to playing with the keyboard and mouse as their controls. They have developed their skills around the reaction time of quick mouse clicks and tactical judgments from reading the maps.
If the professionals of the scene in traditional MOBAs such as Defense of the Ancients 2 or League of Legends test their merit in the mobile esports arena, then the scene could erupt. These experts in the current spotlight may or may not be successful when adapting to a much smaller screen or new controls. Let’s face it, there is a huge size difference between the traditional desktop setup and your mobile device.
As a smart bettor, it is up to us to predict which professionals will lead the pack. We can do this by figuring out which players understand the mobile trend.
Our background research and knowledge will assist us in seeing if that professional has a competitive edge over the competition. For example, if a player has been involved with Honor of Kings since release, because they live in China, they would have an advantage over competition from elsewhere when playing this game.
Remember it is always best to be ahead of the trend rather than playing catch up.
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