After being available for almost a year elsewhere, League of Legends: Wild Rift finally releases in China. It was much anticipated but came after Beijing increased scrutiny and new rules that limit minors’ playtime.
Tencent Holdings, China’s largest videogame company, released the long-awaited mobile title League of Legends: Wild Rift on Friday. However, Beijing closely monitors the industry due to concerns about gaming addiction.
Nearly a year has passed since the MOBA game was made public in the US by Tencent’s US subsidiary Riot Games. Chinese gamers have had to wait almost a year for the game, which is a sign of the problematic process game companies goes through to launch new titles.
After months of tightening their grip over the industry, Chinese regulators have allowed Wild Rift to be launched at home by the Chinese tech giant. China launched a crackdown against the videogame industry earlier in the year. This was initiated by President Xi Jinping, who mentioned gaming addiction during a March speech at the annual “two sessions” political event.
In August, fears over a new industry crackdown were raised when a state-owned media outlet published comments referring to video games as “spiritual heroin.” Authorities further restricted gaming hours for minors to 8 pm to 9 pm on Fridays and Saturdays as well as Sundays and statutory holidays. Along with other tech stocks, the industry giants Tencent & NetEase saw their valuations plummet.
However, the popularity of League of Legends is a sign of promise for the mobile version. This topic was trending on Chinese social media after it was made public on Friday, the day after the National Day holiday of “Golden Week.” On the day of its release, the game’s hashtag was Weibo’s third-most-popular topic. It was also the most downloaded app on Apple’s App store.
Wild Rift is an adaptation of the League of Legends original game on PC. According to Sensor Tower’s report, it has been Riot Game’s most successful mobile game, with more than 46,000,000 downloads and US 64million in global revenue.
After receiving a license in February, Wild Rift’s launch has been delayed in China. Tencent delayed the game launch in China last month after Beijing demanded that companies adopt stricter measures to combat addiction. On the news, shares of the gaming giant plunged by more than 8 percent.
The League of Legends franchise is very popular in China. However, there is a lot of competition for similar mobile games. Tencent, Riot’s parent company, is the biggest competitor in China for this type of game. League of Legends inspired the Honor of Kings. It is currently the most popular mobile game in the world, with 100 million users daily.
Matthew Kanterman, a senior analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence, stated that Wild Rift requires a strong China debut following a decent but not spectacular performance internationally since its ex-China launch.
The honor of Kings’ popularity meant it took a lot of work to see how another MOBA could fit in and steal time and money from the market leader.