It all started as a few whispers and opinions from certain individuals: “Arena of Valor could use some marketing” or “Arena of Valor is not meeting goals on the western market”.
At first, It wasn’t worth too much attention. After all, the game on its Chinese side (Honor of Kings) earns enough to attract the envy of all other companies. So, what is going on with the international version of the game?
From the perspective of the public, the first sign something was wrong was a lack of support for their Indian servers. Small tremors in the community, but nothing more. Following that, Philippines Server “Valiant” merged with Server “Baratayuda”. This created a precedent and immediately people from the Indian community started calling for their server to be merged as well.
Before this Arena of Valor was sailing through peaceful waters, but not anymore. The blood was out and the internet being internet, sharks immediately appeared because let’s face it, in the last few years there’s hardly a bigger target than Tencent. The biggest rumor, dismissal of Arena of Valor marketing teams for the western hemisphere, added fuel to the fire.
So what seems to be the core of the problem?
The main issue is a number of game versions. In the beginning, I can imagine this being a good idea – Tencent adapts the game to multiple markets/cultures. Moving away from the mythical China-based characters was just the first step. In the process Arena of Valor had to transform in order to fit criteria imposed by different laws and different cultures. This created a problem of synchronizing teams working on several game versions. It was solved with some good organizational skills.
But the main problem still remains. In order for the game to achieve the highest status possible, it has to have a competitive scene. And in order to have a competitive scene, well you guessed it, it has to have one single global version of the game, which may be the main reason why all these issues are popping out. That problem is not something money can quickly or easily solve, otherwise, Tencent would be on top of things already.
Wondering why the money is not an issue?
Well, the Chinese mega-corp rose to power through their extremely successful tool, WeChat, from which the revenue is almost unimaginable. Not only was it wildly successful, but it has done so on one of the largest markets (Chinese). To top it off, it faced no real competition there. This opened the door for the kind of growth rarely seen, and the news about Tencent acquiring companies left and right became a regular occurrence. The scale of its success can be measured by the fact Tencent that bought Riot, first majority-acquired in February 2011, and then fully acquired in December of 2015.
Now the real question is, how much of this is an actual issue?
Tencent, like any other major company, denied the rumors when speaking to the National Business Daily:
This has done barely anything to alleviate the concerns within the community. The time when politically neutral statement could have an effect Tencent needs it to have right now, especially with gamers, is long gone. The only way forward with the support from the gaming population is by adopting the stance of transparency, opening discussion and keeping ears to the ground, paying attention to the problems people are reporting.
Currently, there are a few possible scenarios:
- Tencent feels the issues are blown out of proportion. In which case the question can be raised about their perception and ability to notice the problems.
- The problems are real, but there are no valid solutions.
- The problems are real, and the solution is kept from the public.
Neither of these three scenarios is reassuring for us, long term fans of Arena of Valor. The competition is on the rise in MOBA scene for mobiles and the question remains, what is Tencent going to do about it because the head in the sand is not an option for Number 1 on the market.