Tencent to release Honour of Kings in US, Europe

By Zhang Ruinan in New York | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-07-10 10:08

Tencent Holdings Ltd is developing an English-language version of its blockbuster but controversial online game Honour of Kings for release in the US and Europe by the fall, according to US media reports.

The Chinese social network giant plans to accelerate global rollout of the title to diversify its revenue base beyond WeChat, Tencent's popular non-gaming app, Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal reported on July 7, citing anonymous sources.

Tencent has not commented on the reports, but TechNode, which covers media in Asia, said the company had confirmed them but wouldn't disclose timing of the game's release.

The role-playing fantasy mobile game based on characters from Chinese history has been a huge hit in China. Tencent said it has more than 50 million registered users, and more than 160 million people play it every month. It ranked as the highest-grossing mobile game in the world in May, according to research firm App.

On July 4, the company put in place an "anti-addiction" system in response to China's official People's Daily newspaper labeling the game "poison" and a "drug" and a storm of criticism from parents and teachers.

The game has been linked to a string of problems and tragedies.

The Xinhua news agency reported that a 10-year-old boy used his mother's ID and bank account to register as a player. In just more than a month, he spent $8,500 buying virtual equipment in the game.

There was a report of a 13-year-old boy who jumped off a building after being scolded by his father for being addicted to the game, and a 17-year-old boy had a stroke and nearly died after playing the game for 40 hours straight.

Li Min, a producer of Honor of Kings, defended the game in an open letter posted online. He said it's wrong to blame the game for causing addiction problems,.

Unlike the computer desktop-based League of Legends, another of Tencent's most popular games, Honour of Kings is designed for mobile devices. That has made it popular in China, where many gamers don't have access to a games console or PC at home.

Players log in through WeChat and QQ and then hack and slash their way through battle arenas in the game.

Though the game app is free to download, players pay to upgrade characters or costumes to help them advance to the next level.

As with so many games, the more time spent on the game and the more upgrades, the more revenue its maker gets. Estimates about how much an average player spends vary from about $1.50 to $6 a month.

Under Tencent's time-limit plan, players have to register under their real names and any under the age of 12 are limited to one hour of play each day and not after 9 pm, while those between 12 to 18 years are limited to two hours a day.

Tencent said it would upgrade a parental control platform to let parents monitor their children's activities.

After Tencent announced the time limits, its shares fell 4 percent, wiping $12 billion off its market value. But shares have rebounded slightly since then.



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