Honor of Kings
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|Honor of Kings / Wangzhe Rongyao|
|Developer(s)||Tencent, TiMi Studios|
|Genre(s)||Multiplayer online battle arena|
Wangzhe Rongyao (Chinese: 王者荣耀; pinyin: Wángzhě Róngyào, known in English as Honor of Kings, variably known in English unofficial translations as King of Glory, and alternatively transliterated as Wang Zhe Rong Yao) is a multiplayer online battle arena developed by TiMi Studios and published by Tencent Games for the iOS and Android mobile platforms for the Chinese market. By 2017, Honor of Kings has over 80 million daily active players and 200 million monthly active players, and was both the world's most popular and highest-grossing game of all time as well as the most downloaded app globally. An international version of the game, Arena of Valor, was released in October 2017, which utilised the same game engine and UI design but with greatly altered heroes to accommodate for the Western market and respond to complaints of potential intellectual property infringement.
Honor of Kings is a mobile multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game, highly resembling PC games such as Dota 2 and League of Legends, the latter being developed and published by Riot Games, a subsidiary of Tencent.
Either a Tencent QQ account or a WeChat account is required to play the game. If two players use the same account type on different mobile platforms (for example both have WeChat accounts, but one player uses an iOS device and the other uses uses an Android device), cross-platform multiplayer is possible, however, many in game functions are disabled (such as daily gifting and clan inviting). Different account types cannot access the other's matchmaking queue, even when using the same platform.
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The basic gameplay across all game modes involve controlling a character with unique abilities to kill non-player characters and opponents to gain experience and gold, with experience used to unlock their character's abilities or further augment the ability's power, and gold used to purchase items at the shop (which change specific attributes depending on the item bought). Players then coordinate to knock down enemy's defensive structures called turrets, and victory is achieved by destroying the core building, located within the enemy team's base. Specific gameplay mechanics vary depending on the game mode chosen.
Experience and gold are also earned across matches, which are applied to player accounts. Accounts start at level 1, with level 30 being the maximum level. Upon leveling up, users receive bonus in-game awards. Gold can be used for a variety of purposes, such as purchasing new champions.
Honor of Kings has a variety of game modes, with a majority of them focused on competitive matchmaking. Players can either face off against each other in player versus player matches (including 1v1, 3v3, 5v5) or participate in various player versus environment adventure modes.
Valley of Kings (5v5)
Valley of Kings is the most commonly played game mode, with the Ranked game mode using the same game map (see Ranked below). Ten players, each controlling a hero, are split into two opposing teams of 5. The teams start on opposing ends of the map, with the victory conditions either being to destroy the enemy's core building or the enemy team surrendering. To destroy the enemy nexus, teams must destroy defensive turrets, which are situated on the 3 main routes/lanes (top, middle, bottom) used to reach the enemy base. As the turrets inflict heavy damage when approached without the aid of friendly minions which are periodically sent from the team's base, players must attack the turrets with minions by their side. Turrets prioritize enemy minions within their vicinity, but will immediately target enemy heroes if they attack allied heroes within the turret's range. Each player can increase their hero's level and gain gold through killing enemy minions, heroes or neutral creatures situated between lanes (also known as the 'jungle'). Some creatures in the jungle also have certain status effects benefits (also known as 'buffs') which increases their hero's attributes. Gold can then be spent in the shop to purchase items, also used to alter hero's attributes (with some granting special temporary effects such as invincibility).
Ranked Matchmaking (5v5)
Once a player's account reaches level 6 and owns at least 5 champions, they are able to participate in ranked matchmaking. Players are able to join matchmaking either solo, in a group of less than 5 and in a group of 5. Groups of 5 will only be matched with other groups of 5. The game's matchmaking system will match appropriate teammates and opponents according to the player's strength/capabilities.
There are a total of 7 large matchmaking tiers, namely Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Heavenly, Champion and High King in ascending order. Each large tier is further subdivided into several smaller tiers, denoted by their respective Roman numerals in descending order. In the Bronze and Silver tiers, there are 3 smaller tiers each (called Bronze III - I and Silver III - I); the Gold and Platinum tiers have 4 smaller tiers each (called Gold IV - I and Platinum IV - I); the Diamond and Heavenly tiers have 5 smaller tiers each (called Diamond V - I and Heavenly V - I); and the Champion tier using a star system to determine rankings. If Champion players reach 50 stars, they are automatically promoted to High King, where High King players will be ranked within the entire game.
In each ranked matchmaking game, stars can be gained or lost depending on the outcome of the match. Winning the match grants the player 1 star, while losing deducts 1 star. There are 5 stars in each smaller tier, and if a player wins a match having 5 stars, they will be promoted to the next smaller/larger tier; losing with 0 stars likewise will result in demotion.
The Honor system introduces a secondary system to stars: Points may be earned in every match for high in-game ratings, not disconnecting in the middle of matches and other performances. At a certain threshold (100 for lower tiers, with higher tiers having a larger threshold), an additional star is awarded to the player's ranking which can negate a loss/demotion or cause the player to be promoted.
Matchmaking rankings are reset periodically, with every reset being known as a competitive 'season'. Each season lasts approximately 3–4 months, with season awards being awarded to players according to the highest tier achieved. Each season has a dedicated cosmetic skin, and winning 10 ranked matches with a ranking of Gold and above will grant players the skin. The rank achieved at the end of a season is also used to calculate the starting ranking for the next season.
Battle of Changping (3v3)
The basic rules are similar to other game modes, with a total of 6 players (3 on each team). However, unlike other 5v5 game modes, there is only 1 lane/route to the enemy's base, with two jungle areas to either side. Each team has two defensive turrets, with the victory conditions being the same as normal 5v5 game modes.
Mohist Mechatech (1v1, no jungle area)
Single combat mode with only 2 players facing against each other. In this mode, there is only one defensive turret, with base healing effects disabled and the ability to return to base disabled.
In this section, there are multiple different game modes containing interesting buffs and playing methods.
Infinity Skirmish (5v5)
The basic rules are similar to Valley of Kings, however, this game mode has a faster pace. The defense turret has a lower health point, and the minions move faster. Every hero is born with level 2, and can gain gold and levels faster. The average game time is ten minutes. There are several buffs that are created randomly every two minutes, including cooling down time of abilities shorten by 40%, damage of abilities increased by 30%, movement of heroes increased by 100 points, attack speed of turret decreased by 80%, additional ability of a hook that could drag the opponent to your side, and invasibility that you will be shown only if you fight or come near an opponent. This game mode requires players to adjust playing methods according to buffs to achieve victory. 
Dreamland Clash (5v5)
In this mode, you are given a hero by the system. If you don't feel like using this given hero, you could pay diamonds to for another random hero, which will put the one you don't want into a selection pool that you teammates can choose from. The gaming arena only has one middle lane and a path that can generate healing or gold buffs. As time goes, the path will collapse and there will be one main lane to fight on. The minions are slightly different as well: when you push down opponents' second turret, special minions will be generated with more attacking damage. The reason why this mode is called the Abyss of Dreamland is that the gaming arena has optimized and improved graphics and special effects that make it look like a dreamland.
Chess (8 players)
In this mode, there are eight players in total. Each turn, there will be five randoms cards representing different heroes shown to players, and players could pay golds to purchase the heroes and place them on their own chess board. More powerful heroes cost more gold. Each hero starts with one star, and three same heroes would grant this hero two stars. The maximum star level is three. After each player places their heroes on the board, there will be fights of heroes between two players. The lost player will be deprived of health points. The fights take turns until the last player stands. The ranking system is similar to Ranked Matching (5v5).
Fiery Mountain Battle (5v5)
The gaming arena of fight for fire is circular and divided into 3 main lanes (top, middle, bottom). Each player will spawn in either location A or B randomly. Each player starts with 800 initial gold, level 2, and an additional ability of fireball. Location 1, 2 and 3 will spawn jungle creatures. Outside of lane is filled with lava which will make players lose health point and decrease movement speed. Each game has a time limit of ten minutes while the first team that reaches thirty kills will win immediately. The additional ability of fireball causes no damage, but a knockball effect. This game mode has three kinds of randomly buffs, including 30 seconds of control-free effect, increasing movement speed, and increasing cooling down speed by 40%. The respawn time for each player is 15 seconds and the respawned player will be located randomly on the arena. 
Clone Fight (5v5)
The clone fight opens from Thursday to Sunday. The basic rules are similar to Valley of Kings, however, the hero selection stage is different. In each game, the five players will choose each hero and the hero who gets the highest vote will be the hero that the whole team uses for the entire game. If there is a tie, the system will choose one hero randomly. The two parties could use the same hero as well.
Players may choose between a wide variety of heroes, each with special abilities, cosmetic skins and backstories. There are a total of 6 types of heroes: Tank (defence-based), Warrior (close-combat), Assassin, Mage (magic damage), Marksman (long-range physical damage) and Support. The names of heroes usually originate from folklore, mythology, or mythical creatures, with others coming from works of literature, television/movies and even other in-game heroes (based on the game's internal folklore).
Additionally, Tencent have had collaborations with Japanese gaming company SNK, featuring Mai Shiranui from Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters series, and Ukyou Tachibana, Nakoruru, and Haohmaru from Samurai Showdown as guest characters in Honor of Kings. Gongsun Li, a character from Honor of Kings, appeared as a playable guest character in SNK's 2019 fighting game Samurai Shodown.
In 2015, Tencent approached Riot Games and asked them to turn their popular game League of Legends into a mobile title. However, Riot declined and claimed that League of Legends' gameplay could not be replicated on smartphones. Tencent then proceeded to create their own mobile game, Wangzhe Rongyao. The game was then adapted for international markets outside Mainland China, currently named Arena of Valor. In-game characters that were originally inspired from Chinese folklore and mythology were replaced by European folklore and mythologies from other nations to attract players from outside Mainland China. In 2019, both Honor of Kings and Arena of Valor were the biggest mobile game in esports scene. Riot then realized and acknowledged the potential of the mobile market for MOBA games, and eventually announced League of Legends: Wild Rift on October 16, 2019, set to be released in 2020.
The game received a beta release for iOS and Android platforms on November 26, 2015. In addition to a player versus environment (PvE) parkour mode, running mode, the game features player versus player (PvP) multiplayer battles. The game features many similarities to League of Legends. In November 2016, Honor of Kings topped the 2016 China pan entertainment festival "China IP index value list - game list top 10".
In 2016, the game had more than 50 million daily active users and more than 200 million registered users. The game grossed ¥10.4 billion ($1.61 billion) in the last quarter of 2016. In May 2017, it became the highest-grossing mobile game in the world. It had 160 million monthly active users. In May 2017, entertainer Lu Han was named ambassador of the game. In the month of February 2019, the game generated $1 billion.
Honor of Kings will contribute about 50% of the Tencent's mobile gaming revenues in 2017 and it made about ¥3 billion in gross revenue in April 2017 ($435 million). In June 2017, the analysis company APP Annie reported that Honor of Kings was the number 1 mobile game (excluding Android games) in the world in terms of income generated, with first quarter revenue of the game reaching $1.76 billion. A cosmetic hero skin of Zhao Yun also had sold for $22 million in one day. At the time, Tencent reported 200 million registered users with 50 million daily active users. The game grossed $911 million in the second quarter of 2017. Between the last quarter of 2016 and the second quarter of 2017, the game grossed $4.281 billion.
In September 2017, Nintendo announced a deal with Tencent to bring Honor of Kings' international version Arena of Valor to the Nintendo Switch for international markets. As the console is not yet officially available in mainland China at this point in time, analysts anticipated that to support this deal, Nintendo would have to release the console in China by 2019. Tencent is yet to comment in regards to a global release, even after public scrutiny.
In response to the national day of mourning designated on April 4, 2020 by China for those who had given up their lives or had passed away from the COVID-19 pandemic, all of Tencent's games announced a 24-hour suspension of service, which included Honor of Kings.
A soundtrack album was released on 28 October 2015. The extended soundtrack released in year two includes every special event soundtrack since the game's release. Multiple score composers collaborated on the album, including Howard Shore, Thomas Parisch and Marcin Przybylowicz.
On January 25, 2020, Unisonar released the game's score digitally for the first time internationally. The score's executive producers are Sam Yang and Cheney Wu, with coordination by Channel Chen, production by Vivita Zheng and Thomas Parisch, and Hongfei Zhao serving as music director. The album, Honor of Kings Original Game Soundtrack, Vol. 1, consists of 16 original tracks and was produced by TiMi Audio.
On July 4, 2017, it was reported that the game owner’s Tencent had suffered a loss of $14 billion, or 4.1%, on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange after the People’s Daily criticized Honor of Kings (Wangzhe Rongyao) as a “poison” for young people, calling the content “a twist of values and historical views” and addictive. Variety dubbed the two critical articles a “demonstration of the power of China’s state-run media and propaganda machine.” Honor of Kings producer Lin Min afterwards noted online that the game’s design “fully complied with government requirements” and argued that “just like other forms of entertainment, games can be [a non-addictive] part of our normal daily lives.”
In July 2017, Honor of Kings started limiting children under the age of 12 to one hour of play time per day, with an additional restriction from playing after 9pm. Children aged from 12 to 17 will be limited to two hours per day. It is believed that rising concerns over excessive gaming habits in children led Tencent to self-impose these restrictions.
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