League of Legends' handset edition, known as League of Legends: Wild Rift, is now available on China's iOS and Android stores. As the parent company of both LoL and the rival Honor of Kings, Tencent today conducted two strategies to feed gamers of both sides. The two campaigns represent an internal competition within the tech giant.
Honor of Kings and LoL are both MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) games. The former was once renamed because its developer Riot Games complained about potential intellectual property infringement from LoL.
However, in December 2015, Tencent fully acquired Riot Games. After the acquisition, Tencent asked Riot Games to make a mobile version of LoL. Riot Games declined the request. An internal competition thus began.
Now, for Honor of Kings, Tencent not only gave away coupons to gamers, but also released Monkey King as new character, a legendary mythical figure from 16th-century Chinese novel Journey to the West.
For the mobile port of LoL, Tencent released a video called "Hello, China" and offered a 15-day campaign for gamers to pick up a free hero.
The two marketing packages look a bit similar, but Monkey King, or Sun Wukong, has been frequently borrowed by many Chinese game companies to develop their intellectual property. For example, Black Myth: Wukong is an upcoming action role-playing game by Chinese indie developer Game Science.
In a last year's interview, Game Science said they plan to release the game by 2023. The developer aims to release the game for PC and mainstream consoles.
Foreign companies have also made a foray into borrowing the image of Monkey King.
In October 2019, a video game called Monkey King: Hero Is Back was released on PlayStation 4. It was developed by Hexa Drive and published by Oasis Games. The game was based on a Chinese film blockbuster with the same title.
However, it disappointed many Chinese gamers. On Steam, only 25% of the comments were in favor of the title.
Another recent title with Monkey King character is Inhuman Academy, a MOBA game developed by Chinese tech firm NetEase in 2018.