Can esports help Wild Rift surpass Honor of Kings?
Wild Rift is a mobile only League of Legends spin-off that’s currently undergoing beta testing. At first glance, the game is just a mobile addition to the widely popular League of Legends.
Beyond that, the game seems to be taking more inspiration from Honor of Kings and similar mobile game. Honor of Kings is the most successful mobile MOBA title on the market. Looking at Honor of Kings can give us some big clues about what market Riot is looking at with Wild Rift, and what will make it a success or not.
Additionally, Riot Games are fully intent to pursue esports with their title, which might just be the push it needs to become the number 1 mobile title on the planet.
Wild Rift and Honor of King’s Success
The success of a mobile game depends on some widely different factors when compared to a PC game. This is especially true when it comes to a competitive mobile game. That’s an esports market that is very small in the west, but has seen huge growth elsewhere. This is one of a few areas that Wild Rift and Honor of Kings have in common. Can Riot successfully emulate Honor of Kings’ success with Wild Rift?
Honor of Kings is the most profitable and widely played MOBA out there. This might come as a surprise to people in the west though, where the game isn’t even available under that name.
Here it’s called Arena of Valor, its player base is small, and it has seen big changes from the original to accommodate some intellectual property rules. In China though, the game has consistently been the most profitable mobile game and one of the most downloaded apps of all time. 95% of its playerbase is in China, yet it consistency has the highest revenue for an app worldwide.
Honor of Kings pushed MOBA games into unlikely territory when it launched in 2015. Over the past five years it has honed and perfected the mobile MOBA formula.
Suddenly, their competitor arrives from within the same company (sort of). Wild Rift and Honor of Kings are published by two Tencent subsidiaries, Riot Games and TiMi Studios. While they both represent the same mother company, they are now at odds for the same player base both worldwide and within China.
TiMi and Riot – Wild Rift and Honor of Kings
TiMi are a distinct part of Tencent, and one that’s had big success in mobile games. They’ve been responsible for Honor of Kings, Call of Duty Mobile, and the mobile component of PUBG. Their next title is the Pokémon RTS game that was unveiled in July. The developer appears have to have a winning formula for mobile success, particularly when it comes to esports in mobile games.
Honor of Kings has succeeded as it has appealed to players that aren’t typically catered to. The title has a huge female play base comprising 54%. This is dramatically higher than the same figure for league of Legends. This means the game has the opportunity to appeal to a much broader base of players. Honor of Kings has been such a runaway success because it has managed to capture this audience, and it isn’t alone.
Honor of Kings, @TiMiStudios 's premier mobile MOBA, has set a new world record of 100 million average daily active users year to date. Congrats and happy fifth anniversary! pic.twitter.com/sYCrE7W750
— TiMi Studios (@timistudios) November 1, 2020
Riot Games on the other hand, is new to the mobile games market. They do however sport the most elaborate esports ecosystem on the planet. With both League of Legends and Valorant employing the best and most profitable esports organizations on the planet, the potential for Wild Rift esports is immense.
Mobile Esports will define the fight
Wild Rift and Honor of Kings are both competitive games with solid esports potential. Mobile esports generate a lot of revenue in China, and even more in greater south-East Asia. In the West though, it is a drop in the ocean compared to PC esports.
Wild Rift next to Teamfight Tactics are Riot’s way of developing this market in the west. Additionally, China is expected to quickly embrace Wild Rift as well if there is esports potential for the title. We can likely expect the same organizations competing in the Chinese LPL league to move in with their Wild Rift rosters.
There is definitely a market for mobile esports and it has the capacity to appeal to a much broader audience than high-end PC gaming can. Wild Rift looks set to attempt to capture some of this market and potentially create the highest grossing mobile game on the planet.
What does it mean for Wild Rift?
Wild Rift and Honor of Kings both have to deal with the the difficulty learning curve. MOBAs are notoriously difficult to master, but then again, the learning curve didn’t stop Honor of Kings on their path to number one. The real challenge would be to sell the product to general western games and those players who don’t normally play MOBAs. China and India will be easy as the market is already well developed and satured with devices and mobile gaming habbits. Europe, MENA and the United States will be the real testing grounds for Wild Rift on its path to becoming the premier mobile esport.
If Wild Rift and TiMi’s newer efforts can both follow up the success of Honor of Kings, then esports on mobile will likely see some fast growth over the next few years.