Honor of Kings opens door to brand collaborations

The world’s most-successful MOBA mobile game launched recently in the Middle East

Honor of Kings , the world’s biggest multi-player online battle arena (MOBA), is not a new game in China, where it launched about eight years ago and rapidly became the biggest game in the world.

But it launched recently in the Middle East, bringing with it a new and innovative approach to marketing in this region.

It has over 100 million daily active user and 200 million registered users, and was the highest-grossing game in the world last year.

And the ambition is to offer brands the same opportunity here to tap into a vast and engaged audience as we’ve witnessed in China.

For those unfamiliar with the genre, MOBA is a multiplayer online battle arena strategy game in which two teams of players, 5 versus 5,  compete against each other on a predefined battlefield.


Global gaming revenues continue to overshadow the rest of the entertainment world, and more and more brands are looking to expand their presence in the video game market.

When it comes to marketing strategy and IP partnerships in mobile gaming, there are well-known and established  examples, like PUBG MOBILE, seamlessly showcasing the natural integration of brands and IP partnerships that are both globally recognized and locally relevant in MENA.

Vast and engaged audience

The fast-paced Honor of Kings’ success here hinges on localisation and other efforts to appeal to this region’s vast and engaged audience. About 60 per cent of the population in the Middle East considers itself to be gaming enthusiasts.

Saudi Arabia’s gaming market, alone, is valued around $1.8 billion. It’s projected to hit $5 billion by 2025. These figures highlight the growth of the gaming sector in the region, which is being catapulted to new heights and in diverse directions, particularly as the Esports World Cup in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia,  with the biggest prizes in history, draws near.

The gaming industry’s culture has evolved to become instrumental in building communities, influencing consumer perception, setting purchasing trends, and opening new avenues of revenue across industries.

Mobile gaming is the number 1 platform for these communities, and this is new frontier for marketers and where brands want to play.

Joe Zoghbi, Senior Game Operations Manager, Level Infinite MENA, Tencent Games Global

As marketing strategies shift, gaming presents unique opportunities for brands, publishers and creators alike.

In-game brand collaborations result in unique in-game items that players eagerly collect. Virtual items enhance the enjoyment of gameplay by offering a personalised experience and are a powerful tool in brand promotion.

The evolution of in-game collectible limited-edition items into status symbols increasingly gains momentum, with the label of luxe extended to skins, weapons, and clothing found virtually in games.

MAC Cosmetics collaborated with Honor of Kings for its China launch, unveiling a collection of make-up products related to the game’s characters.

The campaign featured five celebrities from the Chinese music band Rocket Girls 101 dressed up as Honor of Kings heroes, showcasing M.A.C.’s signature color palette. All products sold out within 24 hours of the campaign launch.

Big brands onboard

Oppo, Adidas, BMW, Sprite and Gillette have all led similar collaborations with Honor of Kings, capturing diverse demographics while increasing familiarity and brand recall and overall visibility for the game – all while opening doors to new audiences for these brands.

But success in the gaming arena hinges on authenticity and gamers have a keen nose for anything phony. Marketers who venture into the world of mobile gaming to reach new audiences must grok the world of gamers if they are to succeed.

Publishers and brands have a responsibility to ensure their collaborations, strategies and tactics are reflective of a game’s ethos.

As Honor of Kings and the MOBA genre endeavor to make a mark on MENA gamers, these famed collaborations at the intersection of gaming and marketing are good food for thought for marketers and advertisers as they maneuver alongside the growing trajectory of the gaming industry and navigate new audiences.

While wildly successful, they looked beyond sales to what the gaming community seeks; fun and bona fide offerings where publishers, brands, and gamers can play together and win as one.

By Joe Zoghbi, Senior Game Operations Manager, Level Infinite MENA, Tencent Games Global