China's Most Popular Mobile Game Charges Into American Market : All Tech Considered Tencent's Arena Of Valor faces challenges coming into the U.S. market, including unbundling from the company's popular social app and American gamers' less-intense focus on mobile.
NPR logo

China's Most Popular Mobile Game Charges Into American Market

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/574471694/575028127" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
China's Most Popular Mobile Game Charges Into American Market

China's Most Popular Mobile Game Charges Into American Market

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/574471694/575028127" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Chinese tech giant Tencent is trying to do something that's never been done before - take the biggest online mobile game in China global.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The game is called "Kings Of Glory." Tens of millions of Chinese play it every day. Now it's being released. This new version, though, isn't exactly the same, as our co-host Steve Inskeep discovered while playing it with international gamer Drew Miller.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It sounds, you know, like James Bond or something except with games.

DREW MILLER: (Laughter) Very similar to James Bond just with video games. Recently I got back from Korea. I was on Team Liquid and we played against Team SK in a showmatch for the Asia International Championship for "Arena Of Valor."

INSKEEP: What's the game in its Chinese form?

MILLER: It's called "Kings Of Glory."

INSKEEP: OK. So "Kings Of Glory." What is the concept of "Kings Of Glory?"

MILLER: It's basically a mobile version of "League Of Legends" or "Dota." And this breaks it down into, like, a 15-minute game, whereas the PC versions take up to an hour or even an hour and a half. You pick a team of five and then the other team picks a team of five, and then you fight against each other with magical spells and you try and defeat the enemy's base.

INSKEEP: As best you can tell, what is it about "Kings Of Glory" that has made it so appealing?

MILLER: Well, they basically did a bulk of their advertising through the WeChat app, and it's the No. 1 used messaging app in China.

INSKEEP: Oh, this is huge. Hundreds of millions of people are on there, so they have an opportunity to advertise to that market.

MILLER: Exactly. So through the WeChat app, it turned it from a game into more of a social aspect as it has the nearby feature within the game. So you can see who's playing around you, like...

INSKEEP: You could play some stranger who just happens to be 50 feet away from you at the time.

MILLER: Yeah. And the game is simple enough that it's the only mobile game that I would ever consider trying to play with my mom as well. So it's simple enough...

INSKEEP: (Laughter).

MILLER: It's true because most MOBAs are considered the hardest multiplayer games to play online.

INSKEEP: You just said MOBA game. What is a MOBA game?

MILLER: Multiplayer online battle arena.

INSKEEP: Well, I've got a phone here, and the app is loaded and there's a number of choices. What do I do?

MILLER: We can do the grand battle.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO GAME, "ARENA OF VALOR")

INSKEEP: OK. I just pressed it. Wow. That was quite a sound effect. Your screen name is alwaysgreen (ph).

MILLER: Yes.

INSKEEP: So I'm in the game. Alwaysgreen is in the game. And now it says find a match.

MILLER: You can go ahead and hit find match now.

INSKEEP: Match found. There's a bunch of players here, I guess.

MILLER: You're going to pick which one you want to play as.

INSKEEP: OK. What about this guy here?

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO GAME, "ARENA OF VALOR")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Freedom is hard fought.

INSKEEP: Freedom is hard fought says this hero. Oh, my gosh. I am now a guy in shining armor with a sword.

MILLER: That is Arthur.

INSKEEP: That's Arthur. OK, great.

MILLER: The match is about to begin.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO GAME, "ARENA OF VALOR")

INSKEEP: Look at it. There's a bunch of our characters now standing around in a kind of arena.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO GAME, "ARENA OF VALOR")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Get ready. Minions will be deployed in five seconds.

INSKEEP: OK. I - oh, I can move around my character using my thumb.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO GAME, "ARENA OF VALOR")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Dare to engage.

MILLER: Now you've found the joystick.

INSKEEP: Yeah. And now I got to start whacking people, except I'm facing the wrong way, which is really not good.

MILLER: You can follow me.

INSKEEP: I'm following you.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO GAME, "ARENA OF VALOR")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) Stand your ground.

MILLER: If you swing the sword - yeah.

INSKEEP: OK.

MILLER: There you go.

INSKEEP: I just like the old sword swinging.

MILLER: They're going to kill us here.

INSKEEP: Oh. Oh, my goodness. It's like a nuclear explosion almost.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO GAME, "ARENA OF VALOR")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As character) You have been defeated.

INSKEEP: Boo. And there I am, dead on the ground.

MILLER: Yes, that's your body.

INSKEEP: OK. Good to know. At this point, I think I'm going to retreat from the field of battle. Is that OK?

MILLER: Yeah.

INSKEEP: OK. So I'm just going to close the app.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO GAME, "ARENA OF VALOR")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (As character) Enemy onslaught.

INSKEEP: Enemy onslaught. OK, we're getting out of there. Hey, that was fun. Thank you for guiding me through that.

MILLER: Yeah, no problem.

INSKEEP: I guess we should note that video games are designed to be addictive. What about this game would you say is addictive?

MILLER: This sort of provides a similar competitive feel as playing like a pick-up basketball game or something else of that nature.

INSKEEP: Pick-up basketball game - that's what this is. Like, it's a group of random people who get together to play maybe one time, maybe 20 times. You never know.

MILLER: Yeah.

INSKEEP: Well, Drew Miller thank you very much for taking the time to guide us through, as alwaysgreen, this American version of a Chinese game, "Arena Of Valor."

MILLER: Yeah, it's been my pleasure to talk with you.

(SOUNDBITE OF HANS ZIMMER'S "LOBBY THEME")

MARTIN: That was our own Steve Inskeep gaming his way to greatness. He was talking on skype with international gamer Drew Miller.

(SOUNDBITE OF HANS ZIMMER'S "LOBBY THEME")

Copyright © 2018 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.