Game developers usually sell virtual goods from character skins to costumes to weapons to make money. Tencent, China’s biggest gaming firm, is taking it one step further by selling real products.
Tencent’s blockbuster mobile title, Honour of Kings (HoK), is now offering its own gold and silver accessories in partnership with Hong Kong jewellery retailer Chow Sang Sang, the game announced on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo on Sunday.
Inspired by five heroes in the game, the HoK-themed jewellery products are now available via Chow Sang Sang’s online stores in a Valentine’s Day marketing campaign. The most expensive item is a 1,980 yuan ((US$292) bracelet with a gold pendant of Daji, a Chinese concubine-turned-magician character in HoK with destructive powers.
HoK’s tie-up with the jewellery retailer comes after its earlier collaboration with Canadian cosmetics brand MAC. Last month, HoK and MAC launched five co-branded lipsticks featuring colours on the lips of the game’s popular female characters. Some colours sold out within an hour, local media reported.
While jewellery and make-up brands have always had tie-ins with cartoon characters, such as Hello Kitty and Disney princesses, it is a relatively new trend for traditional retailers to launch products with gaming themes. In Japan, Pikachu beauty products have been made possible through partnership between local fashion brand Its'Demo and the Pokémon franchise since 2014.
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In HoK’s case, the game had over 100 million female players, or more than half the total, by May 2017, according to an estimate by data firm Jiguang. Last year, 63 per cent of the Weibo viewers of HoK’s pro league games were female, said the social media site.
In 2018, HoK grossed US$1.93 billion in player spending, an increase of 20 per cent from a year earlier, according to Sensor Tower. In 2016, the game took in just US$589 million.
Despite the slowing growth, HoK remains one of the most important cash cows for Tencent, which has yet to monetise its newer smash-hits like Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battleground after Chinese authorities suspended the approval of new games for most part of last year.
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