17 July 2019
China’s e-sports market is expected to be worth nearly 100 billion yuan next year. Photo: AFS
China’s e-sports market is expected to be worth nearly 100 billion yuan next year. Photo: AFS

China’s fast growing e-sports market

E-gaming will make its debut in the 2018 Asian Games to be held in Jakarta between August 8 and September 2.

The inclusion will pave the way for e-sports to officially become a medal event in 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou.

Six games will be included in upcoming Asian Games, namely Pro Evolution Soccer, League of Legends, Starcraft II, Hearthstone, Clash Royale, and Arena of Valor

Of this, Chinese players are strongest in League of Legends, Starcraft II, Hearthstone and Arena of Valor. They have high chance to grab prizes in these games.

E-Sports Association Hong Kong will hold a qualification game between June 2 and 4. The top 14 players will join the Hong Kong team. Taiwan will also send a team to participate in the Asian Games this year.

League of Legends, Hearthstone and Arena of Valor are all owned by Tencent. These three games are set to get a further boost in popularity, and attract more players from worldwide.

China’s e-sports players doubled to 260 million last year from 130 million in 2016, and the figure is expected to reach 320 million this year, according to a latest e-sports report in China.

Meanwhile, the nation’s e-sports market value soared 59 percent to 65.5 billion yuan last year. Of this, nearly 90 percent is generated from event tickets, advertising, streaming, and peripheral products.

China’s e-sports market is expected to reach a value of nearly 100 billion yuan next year, according to the report.

By contrast, the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is estimated to generate revenue of US$5.2 billion, mainly from ticket sales, broadcasting rights auction, food & beverage, and advertising.

Nevertheless, the rapid expansion of China’s e-sports market reflects a worrying trend of the addiction of young Chinese to online games.

The state-run Xinhua News Agency has criticized Tencent in harsh terms for not making sufficient effort to prevent youngsters from being addicted to video games.

Inclusion in the Asian games could perhaps “legitimize” video games and enhance the image. If that happens, Tencent will certainly be the biggest winner.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 31

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist

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