Arena of Valor and the potential of mobile esports


Will the Asian success on mobile esports expand to the western countries?

Esports is already a global success. Titles like CS:GO, League of Legends, or Dota 2 have millions of followers worldwide. The competitive scene is very well established with very significant tournaments organized across the year. However, if we have a look into the devices on which these played, we find that most of the successful esports are being played on a PC. Today we take a deeper look into mobile esports, and whether they can become as popular as PC esports?

Success in Asia

First of all, we have to consider that mobile esports is already popular in Asia. According to a study from NikoPartners, 68% of the global mobile esports revenue comes from this region. The numbers are already high: we are talking about $68 billion in revenue. The most successful title is Kings of Valor, which gathers 80 million daily active users in China. The game turned into Arena of Valor in their attempt to become global.

Arena of Valor and the failure on the West

Arena of Valor is a MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) mobile game created by Tencent. The concept is the same as in Kings of Glory (KoG): a 5vs5 multiplayer battle with multiple characters called heroes. While KoG is already a great success in China and is considered a core esport, Arena of Valor didn’t succeed in the Western region.

Tencent decided that for the international expansion of Kings of Glory, some adjustments were needed. Since the heroes from the game were coming from Chinese mythology, they decided to change the approach and develop a new game with Western heroes such as Batman or Superman. The game, released in 2017, was a great success in countries like Thailand or Vietnam, but it did not become popular in Europe or North America. Multiple analysts agree on the two key reasons for this: inefficient marketing campaigns and lack of knowledge of the Western culture.

Less than two years after the release, Tencent decided to stop the marketing investment in the Western countries. This decision came after a conflict of interests with Riot (owned by Tencent), which stated that Arena of Valor could be a threat to their well-known game League of Legends. Soon after, it was announced that Riot had been working on a new mobile version of League of Legends: Wild Rift. It seems clear that Tencent didn’t give up: they just bet on their most well-known brand in the West.

Wild Rift: a new opportunity for mobile esports in the Western region

League of Legends: Wild Rift will be launched in Europe on December 10, 2020 and in North America in Spring 2021. The potential is immense: League of Legends already has millions of followers within the region and a mobile version will for sure be an exciting release.

The only challenge, assuming Tencent and Riot learned from their mistakes with Arena of Valor, will be the gameplay. Mobile esports aims to be simpler and the skills required to master the game will be different from those found in computer esports. Wild Rift’s main challenge will be to produce the same level of engagement that League of Legends does. With the required gameplay adjustments to make it a competitive and fun game, success is almost guaranteed.

The potential within mobile esports

Counting or not with the success of Wild Rift, there are multiple factors why mobile esports can skyrocket in the following years:

  • Demographics: Counter-Strike or League of Legends fans grew up playing computer or console games. They played multiple shooters or strategy games themselves before becoming fans of the most well-known esports. However, the paradigm is changing: the youngest generations are now possessing a smartphone from a very young age. Apart from using TikTok and Instagram, they also have the option to play competitive games with their friends.
  • Purchasing power: During the last few years, smartphones have become very affordable. The number of people who can afford to play a mobile esports game is highly superior in comparison to traditional esports played on PC.
  • A 24/7 experience: With the upcoming 5G technology, internet data is becoming more and more powerful. This gives the option to play a game everywhere: in the metro, in a cafe, or in the park with your friends. The user can play during the whole day, while computer-based esports requires you to be home. current approach within mobile esports is tracking the volume and interest from every esport, including mobile esports. The goal is to cover the titles that users are most interested in. That’s why live odds are already available for the Kings of Glory/Arena of Valor title.

As mentioned in the article, the game is already a big success in Asia. There is a large fanbase in China, Vietnam, or Thailand. Any Asian bookmaker now has the chance to engage their users with one of their favorite games, offering a high uptime (>80%) and up to 6 live markets available.

Mobile esports is likely to boom in the upcoming years, and is ready to provide an authentic engaging experience to all its fans.


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