Chinese League of Legends Clone Hopes to Capture a Slice of China’s DOTA Market with Home-Grown Heroes
C. Custer | On April 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm
China’s casual and social gamers are growing by the day, especially on mobile platforms. But what about the country’s more hardcore gaming contingent? These days, an awful lot of them are playing Defense of the Ancients-style games. Defense of the Ancients (now often called DOTA) began as a mod for the real-time strategy game Warcraft 3 (which was hugely popular in China) and eventually became so popular that it spawned a whole host of similar games and, some would argue, essentially created a new genre of game in the process.
DOTA, its sequel, and League of Legends are currently among the most popular games both in China and internationally, but Chinese game operator Tiaoyue is hoping that its new game 300 Heroes can pull Chinese players away from League of Legends. The game is nearly completed, with features already locked, and it enters the final round of internal testing this week. A playable beta is also available on the game’s official site.
Visually and in terms of gameplay, 300 Heroes bears a striking resemblance to League of Legends, something that China’s gaming press has not shied away from pointing out. But the the game does offer one thing League of Legends and other DOTA games definitely don’t: Chinese heroes. In addition to a plethora of wholly fictional characters, 300 Heroes players will be able to select famous historical characters like Zhuge Liang (a famous military strategist from the Three Kingdoms period) and Xuanzang (a famous monk and traveler from the Tang dynasty) as well as famous characters from Chinese fiction like the beauty Diaochan and “Pigsy” from Journey to the West.
Although despite the title it seems the game will only offer 37 heroes at launch, don’t count 300 Heroes out if its gameplay is polished enough to be comparable to League of Legends. Many of its characters are extremely popular in China and could genuinely pull some players away from Western-developed DOTA games if the gameplay is otherwise comparable.
In that way, 300 Heroes offers an important lesson to anyone planning to launch or localize a game for China: localization isn’t just about the language. There is a reason, after all, that so many Chinese RPGs are based on famous Chinese historical periods or popular novels like Journey to the West: Chinese gamers love that stuff. This is not to say that they don’t also like new things, of course, but the call of the familiar can be powerful. Doing something like adding characters Chinese players are familiar with to a game can really make the game more appealing and less intimidating to new players, especially in DOTA-style games where there are generally dozens of characters to choose from.
Anyway, we’ll be keeping an eye on 300 Heroes to see if it can capture the hearts and minds of China’s DOTA-loving online gaming crowd, or whether even the tactical brilliance of Zhuge Liang can’t save it from being “just another DOTA clone.”