Nestled deep within today's Nintendo Direct was a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) title called Arena of Valor from Tencent. A number of folks probably thought "that the game looks a lot like League of Legends and Dota 2," and moved on with their lives. The truth is Arena of Valor coming to Switch is a pretty big deal.
See, Arena of Valor recently launched in North America under that title, but the game has been out in China for two years now. There it's known as Honor of Kings (???? in Chinese), and the game has been known worldwide as Strike of Kings or Realm of Valor.
The name isn't what's important though. What matters is the reach. Honor of Kings is currently the biggest game in China by a fair margin. The game is available on Android and iOS, with more than 200 million players in its home region. It has around 55 million active daily users, and according to Chinese mobile data firm Jiguang (via Reuters), half of those users at below the age of 24. Honor of Kings is so popular that Tencent recently had to limit playtime for those under the age of 12 to one hour, while those 12 to 18 have a maximum of two hours.
"It’s not just a game, but it’s now becoming a crucial part of my social life. It’s crazy, like everyone is playing, and I just don’t want to be left out," said a 20-year-old Chinese university student living in Toronto told Reuters. "I am totally addicted to it. I play it during lunch time, class breaks, bus-waiting periods."
To put these numbers in perspective, League of Legends has 100 million monthly active users worldwide. Dota 2 currently sits at 12.5 million active monthly players. Grand Theft Auto as an entire franchise has sold 250 million copies total as of November 2016. The Super Mario franchise has sold 310 million units across its entire lifetime. Arena of Valor has reach more than half that in only two years in a single region.
This is a very, very big game that Nintendo has just casually announced is coming to Nintendo Switch. Arena of Valor will be released into beta on the Switch this holiday, remaining free-to-play on the platforms. Only a few MOBA titles have made their way to consoles - like Smite and Paragon - but now one of the biggest is coming to Nintendo's platform. There's no indication whether the game will see the same success, but it's a meaningful addition to the Switch library.