To many of us, one of the more subtle announcements to come out of the Nintendo Direct last week was that Arena of Valor, a free-to-play MOBA, would be releasing for the Switch as a beta later this year. However, Arena of Valor, while lesser known to western audiences, is actually one of the most popular mobile games in China. A Chinese mobile data firm suggests that it currently has over 55 million active users. A deal that brings a game of this magnitude to Nintendo is a huge deal. So much so that Nintendo saw its shares rise 7% in Tokyo trading (38,250 to 40,950 JPY).
So how does the Chinese company, Tencent, fit into this?
Well, Tencent publishes Arena of Valor (as well as many other games). A partnership with Tencent has analysts speculating that not only is there a strong possibility of more Chinese games heading for the Nintendo Switch, which further increases Tencent’s exposure to the West, but also suggests that Nintendo will start selling its hardware and software into the world’s largest market, China. According to The Wall Street Journal, “This is very positive in the longer term in getting Chinese publishers supporting the Switch” said Macquarie Capital Securities analyst David Gibson, as well as predicting that the Switch will be introduced into China in 2019.
It’s been only two years since the lift of the console ban, and so far there’s been no rush for Nintendo to sell its hardware in China, at least not when the Wii U was their primary console. The Wall Street Journal added that “Nintendo held back, in part because consoles remain a niche product in a country where consumers are used to playing on smartphones and personal computers …” For investors there’s optimism now for Nintendo and China since the Switch is not simply a home console, but a handheld/mobile device as well.
Let me know in the comments below if you think Nintendo will start selling the Switch into China anytime soon. Also, how do you feel about more Chinese Games coming to the Switch? I’m personally excited to check out Arena of Valor when its released.