Since Riot Games unveiled League of Legends: Wild Rift at the 10-year anniversary event of the game last October, fans have been eagerly waiting for it to release on mobile and console. The mobile version is expected to start rolling out in 2020.
Many people are already predicting that the game will be a huge hit and a grave competition to other mobile MOBA games available.
While the latter belief is a bit controversial, the game’s potential for popularity is something everyone can get behind. Some leaked gameplay footage of Wild Rift has shown that the game will be very similar to its PC counterpart and will deliver intense and mechanical gameplay to mobile players. The last game to do this was Call of Duty: Mobile, which surpassed 180 million downloads just three months after its release.
But what does Wild Rift mean for other mobile MOBAs already played by millions of people? Will these games see a drastic change in their player base or will they continue to thrive in coexistence with Riot’s mobile MOBA?
This picture may be quite different in the West and Southeast Asia, the latter undoubtedly being the biggest market for mobile MOBAs.
In the West, the impact of mobile MOBAs is low compared to other regions of the world. Arena of Valor, for example, has a huge player base in Southeast Asia but couldn’t replicate the same turnout in the West. In May 2019, a report by Reuters revealed that Tencent disbanded its marketing team for North America and Europe. A source told Reuters that Tencent is “just letting it (AoV) live or die on its own course.”
The Valor Series didn’t take place in 2019 for North America and Europe. The Arena of Valor International Championship (AIC) 2019 didn’t see any North American or LATAM team earn a spot, either. One European team, however, was invited to the event.
With the lack of a big mobile MOBA in the West, League of Legends: Wild Rift will be aiming to become the next major title in the region.
In Southeast Asia, the story is completely different. There are two immensely famous mobile MOBAs available in SEA: Arena of Valor and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.
Both games launched in 2016 and have since accumulated millions of fans. They also have huge esports scenes with high viewership. The Mobile Legends (M1) World Championship 2019 attracted over 648,000 people at its peak and had an average audience of 162,050 viewers. The majority of the people tuned into the Indonesian livestream, which peaked at over 467,000 viewers.
The Arena of Valor International Championship 2019, on the other hand, peaked at 541,229 viewers. The Vietnamese peak viewers topped off at 352,843 people for the $500,000 event.
With this viewership, it seems like the players and fans of both games aren’t going anywhere. Tencent is constantly interacting with the Arena of Valor community on Discord and Reddit, regarding updates and consistently releasing developer letters.
Mobile Legends: Bang Bang has also given its fans a slew of new content, the latest one being the game’s own auto chess mode called “Magic Chess,” which will be playable starting Jan. 24. Arena of Valor already introduced an auto chess mode to the game a few months back.
The real concern in Southeast Asia isn’t how games like Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and Arena of Valor will survive when Wild Rift comes out, though. It’s how League of Legends: Wild Rift will lure players to its own community in this extremely competitive market. But since Wild Rift is a Riot title, the game could have a bright future.