With over 27 million users playing it daily, free to play MOBA (Massive Online Battle Arena) League of Legends is one of the most popular games in the world. The game is so popular that last year it made over $946 million in revenue, and that was just from selling things like cosmetic items (such as character skins or premium wards) and IP boosts (IP is the currency players use to buy new characters).
Those figures are good news for Chinese Internet company Tencent, which bought a majority stake in Riot Games (the League of Legends developer) back in 2011. In fact, between League of Legends, military shooter Cross Fire and beat 'em up Dungeon Fighter Online, Tencent is in charge of the world's three highest grossing multiplayer games.
With LoL, CrossFire and DFO all running on PC, it makes sense that platform holder Microsoft has now announced plans to partner with Tencent to take on the Chinese market. In a statement, Microsoft explained that not only will Tencent be helping them release their Windows 10 operating system in China but the company will also be releasing their most popular games on the Windows store too:
"Tencent, the leading social networking and gaming services company in China, announced it will offer Windows 10 as a free upgrade to its customers on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 in China, and include QQ, Tencent Video and Tencent PC Manager in the Windows 10 free upgrade pack. Tencent will create a Windows 10 universal app for their flagship QQ app, which has over 800 million customers in China, and bring their most popular PC games, such as "League of Legends," "Cross Fire" and "Dungeon & Fighter" to Windows 10 and the new Windows store."
League of Legends players on Mac and PC don't have to worry about the game coming to other platforms, though, as Riot Games has released a statement saying "[their] focus is on making sure League plays great on Mac and PC. No plans for console, mobile or other platforms at this time." Of course that doesn't rule out a console or mobile version of League of Legends in future but for now, it'll be on computers only.
Overall, the partnership is beneficial to both companies involved. It helps Microsoft break into the Chinese PC market, which is now the biggest PC market in the world, and it proves to PC gamers that they are committed to catering to their interests. As Windows 10 will also be available on mobile devices and Xbox One, it may steer Chinese mobile users away from Android (which is the leading OS in the territory) and it could offset the Xbox One's poor Asia sales too.
For Tencent, this gets their games in front of more customers. The global PC market is growing rapidly and so as PC gamers look for more games to play, if Tencent's are front and center on the Windows store, they won't have to look very far. Additionally, Tencent and Microsoft will release other Windows 10 initiatives in future, including "additional universal apps" so that could give both companies an extra revenue stream.
We'll have to wait and see what else Microsoft and Tencent are working on but Windows 10 is scheduled for release for this summer so we'll know more before then.