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Call of Duty: Warzone off to strong start in China's March streaming rankings

But Tencent and MOBAs dominate, with Honor of Kings at the top of the charts

The battle royale spin-off of Call of Duty has already made a big impact in China, based on figures from the nation's largest streaming platform.

Analyst firm Niko Partners, which specialises in the Asian games market, has shared statistics from leading site Douyu to mark the launch of its new China games streaming tracker.

Its first monthly report shows that Call of Duty: Warzone, which launched on March 10, ranked as the ninth most popular game of the month, based on Douyu's heat index. This is calculated based on hours streamed, number of unique streamers, and amount generated in tips to streamers.

Call of Duty: Warzone racked up 156,188 hours streamed during the month, spread across 6,860 unique streamers. They received RMB 2.25 million ($317,509) in tips throughout March.

Warzone was the highest placing new release of the month.

Activision Blizzard is also the only Western publisher to be directly represented in the rankings. Games from other Western firms are listed by their local Chinese publishers, including Blizzard's own World of Warcraft and Overwatch, which are both handled by NetEase in the region.

The highest ranking Western-developed title is League of Legends at No.3, created by Riot Games but published in China by Tencent. The popular MOBA was streamed for over 900,000 hours by 42,607 streamers and generated RMB $24.5 million ($3.46 million).

The biggest game of the month was Tencent's flagship MOBA Honor of Kings -- known as Arena of Valor in the West. That racked up 469,326 hours streamed across 62,294 streamers. It generated RMB 21.6 million ($3.05 million).

Honor of Kings has been the most popular game in China every year since it launched in October 2016.

Niko notes the reason Honor of Kings ranks higher -- despite having half the hours streamed when compared to League of Legends -- is because Riot's title has lower gifting proportionate to hours streamed. League has also been watched more because matches last longer.

MOBAs are the most popular category on Douyu, despite only accounting for seven of the top 100 games. This is driven by Honor of Kings, League of Legends and Valve's Dota 2, which between them saw over 1.5 million hours streamed in March. Streamers for these three games received over RMB 50 million ($7.07 million) in tips.

Shooters are the second most popular category, with Call of Duty: Warzone, PUBG and Peacekeeper Elite -- PUBG's mobile spin-off themed around the Chinese military, also known as Game For Peace -- streamed for over one million hours.

It will come as no surprise that Tencent was the most dominant company in the stream rankings, accounting for ten of the top 20 games, while its main rival NetEase had four. Together, the two publishers took 45 positions in the Top 100.

Below were the top ten games on Douyu for March 2020:

  1. Honor of Kings (Tencent)
  2. PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG Corp)
  3. League of Legends (Tencent)
  4. Peacekeeper Elite (Tencent)
  5. Dungeon Fighter Online (Tencent)
  6. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (Perfect World)
  7. Crossfire (Tencent)
  8. DOTA 2 (Perfect World)
  9. Call of Duty: Warzone (Activision Blizzard)
  10. World of Warcraft (NetEase)

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