Honor of Kings a king-size hit

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Professional Honor of Kings players from the ASGARD Xiange team celebrate after winning Tencent's 2016 King Pro League Finals in Shanghai last December. [Photo provided to China Daily]

"Turn on the microphone." Nie Chenjing has typed those words on her smartphone so many times that they are etched in her psyche.

A late convert to Honor of Kings, the 25-year-old spends an average of one-hour-a-day on the online fantasy blockbuster.

She started playing the jewel in the gaming crown of Tencent Holdings Ltd last summer to help expand her social networking circle.

"It's easy to learn and so convenient," said Nie, a new media editor. "It's also a good way of staying in touch with friends and making new ones on social networks."

Honor of Kings has broken records and gender barriers as it swept across the country. A "make believe" battle craze for smartphones, it has captured the imagination of Millennials, or the under-30 generation.

It has also made big bucks for internet giant Tencent, raking in revenue of more than 5.5 billion yuan ($810.47 million) in the first quarter, Chinese gaming industry database Gamma Data Corp estimated.

To put that into perspective, the country's mobile gaming revenue jumped by 4.5 billion yuan to 27.5 billion yuan during that period. It was the biggest increase in growth for two years.

"And this market will continue to grow," said Teng Hua, founder of Gamma Data, a next generation data management company based in Beijing.

For Honor of Kings, Gamma Data revealed that players pay an average of 11 yuan-a-month to upgrade their game characters and costumes to help them advance to the next level.

This has translated into hefty profits for Tencent as a report by Chinese mobile data intelligence firm Jiguang showed that Honor of Kings doubled its monthly active users to 163 million in May since December 2016.

The rise has been fueled by a young generation that earns less than 8,000 yuan a month. Data also showed that 54 percent of the 200 million gamers are young women such as Nie.

"It's easy to learn and so convenient," she said. "You simply click on the app and you can play it anywhere with your friends.

"We even call each other by the names of the heroes we are using in the game instead of our real ones," she added.

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