China’s eSports industry is growing at an explosive rate. According to the market research firm iResearch, China will see a hundred million new participants and spectators.
eSports takes the form of organized multiplayer video game competitions, with tournaments and championships, and provides live broadcasts of the competition and prize money and salaries to competitors. The industry has its roots stretching back to 1998, but it was in 2013 that its user base, hardware and equipment contributed to a boom with the expansion of the Internet and a recovering global economy.
According to a report at CCTV the industry was increasingly commercialized after policy restrictions loosened up. In 2003, China’s General Administration of Sports officially named e-sports as the country’s 99th sporting event, which distinguishes itself from online games.
Various sources have invested over a billion yuan into the industry. One of the more prominent investors is Prometheus, headed by Wang Sicong, the son of China’s richest man Wang Jianlin. China Digital Culture recently announced plans to partner with pop star Jay Chou to create a cross-strait e-sports company.
The global e-sports professional gaming market generated $194 million in revenue in 2014, and is expected to grow to more than $465 million by 2017, according to market research firm Newzoo. The industry is especially luring, since pop star Jay Chou is an expert of it. He could stand to attract over 17 million people to watch him play online by broadcasting e-sports games. “I am a very devoted player myself. Some people say playing with music is something, but I think playing e-sports is really something,” he said.
Meanwhile, China’s e-sports team is one of the world’s best, and its biggest competitor is South Korea. According to Newzoo, South Korea has not recovered from the setbacks its e-sports economy suffered in between 2008 and 2012, leaving China as the country with the highest e-sports revenue in Asia, with $36.7 million in 2015 compared to South Korea’s $28.9 million.