Tencent is making a TV series about China’s biggest game
Live-action show to follow teenager trying to become a professional Honor of Kings player
It’s one of the world’s biggest games. And now it’s going to become a TV show.
Tencent says it’ll make a live-action series about Honor of Kings, the hit smartphone title known as Arena of Valor in the West. It has around 200 million monthly players -- that’s over twice as many as Pokémon Go did at its peak.
The game is effectively a mobile version of esports favorites League of Legends or Dota 2, using characters from Chinese folklore. But the TV show doesn’t follow the game’s story.
The TV series follows a Chinese teenager who plays Honor of Kings, battling the odds to become a professional gamer -- and following the footsteps of his elder brother, whose gaming career was derailed by unfortunate events.
It’s based on a serial story by a famed online novelist. There’s no release date for the TV show yet, but the online serial was just published last week and has been viewed over 120,000 times.
Honor of Kings is huge in China. The game has been so popular that the Chinese government intervened last year, forcing the company to place a limit on playing time for teenage players.
And it’s extremely lucrative for Tencent: It grossed 4 billion yuan (US$630 million) in a quarter, according to the China Gaming Industry Report.
Movies inspired by games are also more popular in China than in the West. Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One made US$500 million around the world so far -- with China alone contributing US$200 million.
And the 2016 summer blockbuster Warcraft tanked in the US -- but was huge in China. The movie, based on the games of the same name, made just US$24.4 million in its opening weekend in the US. Compare that to its debut in China: US$156 million over five days in China, the biggest debut of a foreign language film in the country’s history.
Besides Honor of Kings for TV, Tencent also announced that it will make a live-action TV series based on the classic Japanese anime Saint Seiya, to go alongside a forthcoming game. And it said it’s bringing back the classic game Command & Conquer: Red Alert for smartphones.