Arena of Valor is the international version of the Chinese free-to-play MOBA game Honor of Kings (released in 2015 in China) and experienced a global release between 2016 and 2020. TiMi Studio, a subsidiary of Tencent, developed the game, and it was published by different companies depending on the country/region.
If you are familiar with League of Legends, you will have no trouble understanding or visualizing how Arena of Valor works. It is a PvP with 108 heroes with a different set of abilities for each of them and a different class determining the nature of those abilities. Players fight on a battlefield divided in lanes and have to destroy the enemy’s turrets and heroes while being supported by their own minions. Everyone starts at a low level, and experience is earned throughout the match through different means. Leveling up makes your character stronger by unlocking new abilities and increasing their stats. Players earn different rewards at the end of their match. The game features around ten different modes, with 5v5 (Ranked Match) being the most popular.
Arena of Valor was Tencent’s attempt at dominating the MOBA genre on mobile devices with their own title before it got too big. They then asked Riot to develop the new title, but the studio refused to use their League of Legends knowledge since they did not believe in MOBAs on mobile. TiMi was then put in charge, and League of Kings was subsequently released in mainland China in 2015. Riot deemed that it was a copycat of their LoL, not only through its gameplay but also because of the characters and how it was marketed. It was evident that the game was blatantly riding on LoL’s coattails. However, it was too late to make any significant changes since the League of Kings was already a smashing success in China. The game was renamed Honor of Kings and saw only some minor changes. Arena of Valor, the international adaptation, was also tailored to fit western audiences.
All that said, let’s dive into the latest Arena of Valor statistics and facts to see just how successful the game is. If you want to see which other games are doing well in the industry, check out our article about the video games industry statistics for some insightful information.
Arena of Valor user stats
Players have different motivations to start playing Arena of Valor. However, once they have a taste, the main three reasons as to why they keep playing the game will be the same: to collect all the heroes, master them completely, and also to be able to earn a ranked position during the different seasons. Of course, there is also the entertainment factor, as not everything has to do with competitiveness. But, if you are into MOBA games, there must be a bit of that in you.
44% of the Honor of Kings player base is female.
- The biggest age-group in both cases is 20-35 with 29% for men and 26% for women. 36-50 years old players account for 15% for men and 9% for women, 10-20 years old for 13% and 8%. The average age of an Honor of King player is 28.
- The youngest players on the professional scene are 17, whilst the oldest are 32.
- Players from that community who are also into eSports enjoy shopping the most and are not too fond of hobbies related to technology and sciences.
- 40% only play the game, 46% play the game and watch the tournaments and 14% actually do not play the game, but enjoy following the eSports scene.
- According to a study made by Tencent, 36% of women playing Honor of Kings watch eSports versus 50% of male players.
- In the US, most Arena of Valor players are under 30 and 30% of players are women.
Surprisingly, the game has a more prominent female player base than anticipated. Honor of Kings did well by introducing casual gamers, young people, and women to their first MOBA (80% for women in China!). If not, their first online multiplayer game. The game covers such a large demographic that they collaborate with all kinds of different products such as lipsticks, drinks, clothes, hair products, etc. In China, where mobile gaming is a beast, Tencent and its HoK have tapped perfectly into the right market and delivered a product specially adapted to their local market. Internationally, the biggest age group is approximately the same, with more teenagers involved.
Arena of Valor reached a total of 200 million installs outside China.
- The largest portion of those downloads came from Vietnam (33%) and Thailand (25%).
- As of 2020, Thailand accounts for over 31 million registered users.
- As of 2018, the game has been downloaded over 1 million times on Switch.
- As of 2019, Honor of Kings has been downloaded over 295 million times in China.
- In 2016, the game was already boasting 200 million registered users, a year only after its initial launch.
- It took 6 months to Arena of Valor before it finally crossed the 1 million downloads milestone on both iOS and Google Store.
Arena of Valor is extremely popular in SEA countries, with Thailand and Vietnam being the most invested in the game. Even with the whole roster of heroes getting revamped to mainly appeal to western players (read: including figures from Western mythologies), SEA countries still rushed to the game. However, Tencent did not forget about them and added figures from their country to the roster and even added some skins related to their cultures. But the game is not doing that well with the primary audience Tencent had in mind: the United States. The game has some trouble finding its public there and the rising number of registered players. DAU/MAU has more to do with Asian players than western ones. One has to keep in mind that even with all the changes in 2019, Arena of Valor might still look like a copycat of League of Legends with the excellent production value to the western player base, the reference in terms of MOBA on that side of the world.
Honor of Kings reached 100 million daily active users in China alone.
(Source: Pocket Gamer)
- This number was up to 200 million daily active users in 2017.
- In 2018, Arena of Valor had more than 13 million daily active users outside China.
Not many numbers have been communicated regarding Arena of Valor. In 2019, it was said that the number of daily active users in Europe and the United States was between 100,000 and 150,000. A poor performance for such a game/company. Tencent and TiMi never confirmed if it was true or not. They only came forward to put to rest the rumors stating that they were going to let the game die. That does not mean that those numbers cannot be true. Even if Tencent is trying to replicate its Chinese billion-dollar success in the West, and even if it does not look as successful, they still have the southeast Asian crowds to massively boost their numbers on the international scene.
Arena of Valor key stats
With such success, everyone is a bit curious about topics focused on revenues, profits, the number of downloads, and more information around the game itself.
Arena of Valor has surpassed $10 billion worldwide in lifetime revenue.
(Source: Pocket Gamer)
- During the same year, the title has generated a total of $2.8 billion in revenue, with a good chunk of it coming from China.
- Honor of Kings/Arena of Valor reached its first annual billion in 2017 with $1.05 billion, reaching it every year since then. 2020 (of course) has been its best year yet with $1.51 billion.
- In 2019, it was revealed that the game had made $4.5 billion since launch.
- It also made $200 million from players outside China, with Taiwan spending a total of $72 million (36%) and Thailand spending $60 million (30%) at the time.
- The United States is the western country with the highest player spending in 2019 with $7 million, which in retrospect, represents only 0.2% of what Chinese players spent during the same period.
- In 2018, Arena of Valor had accumulated a total of $140 million since launch. The year before, the game managed to gross around $71.4 million, which shows an increase of 40%.
- Thailand was the bigger spender with 34%, followed by Taiwan (29%) and Hong-Kong (14%). The United States only accounted for 5% of that total.
Honor of Kings has been dominating the charts as the highest-grossing game on mobile devices for years now, with a turnover that has been consistently between $200 to $350 million per month, amounting to at least $1 billion per year. And when you see that at least 95% of their monthly revenue comes from China, the local market, it is easy to understand why the country is always a big target for mobile games developers. Mobile gaming is not only the most prominent form of gaming there, but Chinese players, used to the gacha system, do not hesitate to pay a price. To those two facts, we can also add the huge Chinese population, making it also a daily active users/monthly active users paradise. Even if Arena of Valor has a bit of trouble landing on its two feet in the West, it is still doing well in other Asian countries, with Taiwan and Thailand at the top of this list.
Arena of Valor/Honor of Kings has received over 10 awards and accolades on the international scene.
- It won the Best Music in a Casual/Social Game award at the 15th G.A.N.G. Awards 2017, an award it won again at the 18th ceremony.
- Amongst others, the game was also nominated in 2017 for Original Dramatic Score, New IP at the NAVGTR 2017, Best Competitive Game at the Golden Joystick Awards 2018 and Best Mobile Sport at the Pocket Gamer Mobile Games Awards 2020.
A rare occurrence for a mobile game, Arena of Valor has been mostly nominated/rewarded with regard to its original soundtrack. And if you are wondering why, it is because Tencent/TiMi did not shy away from hiring famous composer, Oscar-nominated Hans Zimmer! Another step that shows how serious they were in their intent to appeal to the West, and that they were willing to strongly invest in their project.
Arena of Valor usage stats
Time to take a closer look at how the game is consumed by the community. Obviously, Arena of Valor/Honor of Kings is a lot of fun and has a lot to offer the players with its 10 different modes (you can even play soccer). And with such an important eSports scene, its streaming game must be strong.
Arena of Valor is ranked #767 on Twitch.
- Over 7 days: the average number of viewers is 97, the average number of channels streaming the game is 13, the average number of viewers/channel is 7.5 and the number of hours watched is 15,592.
- The highest number of concurrent viewers was 39,452 in March 2020 and the highest number of channels streaming was 52 in November 2021.
- On average, there are 1,089 viewers and 15 active channels.
- The game is streamed by 7% more channels during the weekend, and there are 7% more viewers.
On Twitch, the international version is a streaming disaster and the original one does not generate enough data to actually warrant a tracked page. That can be translated into three facts. The first one is that the western audience has not been that receptive to the game, resulting in few to no streams at all. A bit disappointing considering the fact that Tencent used streamers to promote the game to the coveted core demographic. Secondly, China has its own streaming platforms such as Douyu where the game is the most popular. Finally, considering the fact that the international version found its public in SEA countries, there is a bigger chance to find them streaming on YouTube as it is their go-to platform.
In China, Honor of Kings is #1 on iPhone for Top Free Strategy Games and Top Grossing Strategy Games.
(Source: Sensor Tower)
- On iPad, it is #6 in the first category and #2 in the second.
- Overall, the game is doing well on iPhone, as it ranks first for Top Free Games and Top Grossing Games.
- It is another story on iPad where it ranks 9th in Top Free Games and 3rd in Top Grossing Games.
One would think that the bigger screen sported by the iPad would make it the go-to device for players. However, it is easy to explain if you know that people in China can be seen playing games everywhere. On the bus, while waiting in the queue, at a café, etc. The smaller and more portable iPhone is a better solution compared to the iPad. But even if it is not the most downloaded on iPad, players are still invested since it ranks pretty in terms of earnings. Other than that, the ranking just enforces something we already knew: Honor of Kings rules overall in China.
In the US, Arena of Valor ranks #170 on iPhone and #196 on iPhone for Top Grossing Role-Playing Games.
(Source: Sensor Tower)
- It can be found at the 252nd position on iPhone and the 199th on iPad in Top Free Role-Playing games
- In Germany: In the Top Free Role-Playing Games, the game is #136 on iPhone and #111 on iPad. For the Top Grossing in the same genre, it is #164 on iPhone and #153 on iPad.
- In France: As a free role-playing game, it ranks 155th on iPhone and 137th on iPad. In terms of in-game purchases, it ranks 123rd on iPhone and 135th on iPad.
Since we are talking about the international version of Honor of Kings, the one targeting the West, we only used the western countries with the highest number of downloads. But even when checking other European countries and Canada, we can see that the trend is pretty much the same. We can now understand why those rumors about Tencent letting the game die came to be.
In the US, Arena of Valor is #220 in top free action game and #72 in top grossing action game categories for the Google Play Store.
(Source: Sensor Tower)
- In Brazil: The game ranks 84th in Top Free Action Game and 18th in Top Grossing Action Games.
- In Russia: It takes the 34th spot for free action games and the 53rd one for top grossing action games.
Here again, it is a catastrophe for the United States. Hardly commendable. However, even if it is not much, the game is doing better in Brazil. The country has been included for two reasons: gamers seem to be more active on Android, and they are generally way more receptive to online multiplayer games on mobile devices. Arena of Valor was released in Russia not that long ago (2020) and it is interesting to see how it is doing. Pretty average as it also seems like people do not really spend money in-game. For reference, all SEA and East Asian countries were not accessible.
Arena of Valor eSports
Honor of Kings, the Chinese version of Arena of Valor, is said to be the source of mobile eSports being respected in the eSports industry. The game created an active and efficient eSports scene on different levels, from professional to amateur. Arena of Valor enjoys the hard work of its counterpart with its thriving international circuit, including a league in each country/region, allowing the game to continue to grow locally too. The game is also part of the Asian Games alongside traditional sports from 2019. With 44 billion views in 2019 generated by Honor of King’s eSports, it is clear that Tencent’s MOBA is well-rooted.
The biggest prize pool in a tournament reached a total of $10 million.
(Source: One eSports)
- It is the prize money for the Arena of Valor World Cup 2022.
- Before that, the Honor of Kings World Champion Cup 2021 was at the top with $7,742,068 worth of prize money.
- The grand total of prize money awarded amounts to $49,531,195.
It has not happened yet, and it is already making the headlines! The gap between those two tournaments is pretty big and Tencent, VSPN, and Level Infinite did not hesitate to give it everything they got to ensure a high rate of participation. Maybe also to entice some new players, who knows… Due to COVID-19 and the drastic measures taken by the Chinese government, the competition will have to be online since 16 different countries will be represented.
The Wolves organization had the highest earnings at $5.3 million.
- The second organization is eStar Pro with $3.8 million, closely followed by Hero JiuJing with $3.7 million.
- In fourth position, we find Weibo Gaming with $2.8 million and finally AG Super Play with $2.1 million.
All the top 5 organizations are Chinese and are all known professional teams in the circuit. Some are even part of bigger institutions, such as Weibo Gaming, which is the eSports team owned by the biggest social media platform in China, Weibo. Or Wolves, the Chinese division of the eSports division of the Premier League British Soccer Club of the same name.
Highest earning players are mostly Chinese.
- Fly is #1 with a total of $984,631. He is followed by 1dao with $784,522.
- JiuCheng is #3 with $725,920 while #4, Wuxin, shows a total of $712,014.
- The last player in that top 5, WuMing, has earned a total of $704,061.
After the 34th position, we start seeing more diversity, but China can still be found pretty much everywhere. We can also notice that from there, it is Thailand and Vietnam that start monopolizing the ranking. Those two countries have demonstrated that Arena of Valor was a strong presence through not only the number of registered players but also with player spendings and their league. In Thailand, it is so popular that a contest was even organized to allow a local to draw a skin inspired by Thai mythology for a hero and TiMi added a skin inspired by muay-thai for one of the characters.
China dominates the circuit with its $25.8 million earned.
(Source: eSports Earnings)
- Thailand is second with $3,518,650 and Taiwan is third with $2,303,431.
- Vietnam ($2,050,392) and South Korea ($1,140,467) managed to occupy the last two spots of that Top 5.
There is no surprise at China snatching the first spot. What is interesting is the fact that up to #7, the ranking is topped only by Asian countries, with #8 being the US. The top 5 also show quite the roster, with 80 to 248 players, compared to the other countries with less than 25 players.
To sum up
With Arena of Valor, Tencent tried to do something never seen before in the mobile gaming industry: take local success to higher ground by releasing an international version that would do as well. Unfortunately, it sounds easier to do than it really is.
Honor of Kings was tailored for China: Chinese characters that reinforce the cultural link, a MOBA on mobile devices in a country where mobile gaming is huge, and using a genre that had a small following in the country since it was mostly represented by League of Legends on PC. Changing the roster of heroes to western figures cannot do much when the genre (MOBA) is associated with PC gaming in the West and there is already League of Legends (which Honor of Kings/Arena of Valor is taking a bit more than just inspiration). Case in point: the mobile version of Riot’s game is doing way better than AoV.
But all is not lost since Tencent found a surprising following in SEA countries, and just for that, there is no point in shutting the game down. Plus, China still represents more than 90% of their total revenue, so as long as Tencent has that incentive, they are well protected. However, with all the new Chinese laws aiming to drastically regulate how and when players can play, it might make things difficult for the company. Some professional players have already been taken out of the circuit for being less than 18 and the fact that minors can only play 1 hour on 3 designated days, therefore causing lags during those periods, will not be beneficial.
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