Esport is really common in China. Common and, of course, popular. Most of the Chinese see gaming as a natural sport since 2011, but games are growing actively since 2004. In 2010, everything became clear: gamers are like superstars (such as their salaries), sponsorship deals are everywhere and also lucrative. There are tournament practically every week, with a huge audience and big prize pool, but still have a lack of acceptance by the traditional sport audience and, mysteriously, by the parents.
The only explanation for this kind of thing happens in China, it is because gaming is still seen as a bad habit and a huge waste of time. A kids hobby. With the establishment of a sports system and the rise of professional teams in the Chinese market, more huge tournaments will happen for professional players to compete. And hopefully the childish idea might disappear.
On the way to become a dream job
The CNNIC (China Internet Network Information Center) estimates that more than 400 million Chinese people play some kind of online games. China is known by its severe schooling system, including partnership between parents and schools that frequently control extracurricular activities, because the main objective in 90% of the families in China is to have a university degree. In the 90’s, the cafes in China were a way foryoung citizens to rebel against this idea. Years later, these cafes serve as training places to amateur teams –many of these places have become famous for bringing up professional gaming players.
Since the beginning, the Chinese e-sports market has been overwhelmed by the negative answer to digital gaming from mostly the older society. At amateur and professional tournaments, it is really usual to catch government officials state before the event (and sometimes, after as well) that gaming has a negative effect on the youth and it is a shame for the familiy. Despite all the pressure, China became, together with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong one of the leaders in this discipline producing video games, anime, martial arts films, popular music, and television series worldwide. Because of that, the popularity became inevitable.
Also, the “pastime” has gotten greater social recognition in recent years, becoming one of the major attractions at the Golden Eagle TV Art Festival. To achieve a better acceptance, the esports market started to aim the real public: esports audience symbolizes a very valuable demographic scale, mostly boosted by online advertisement, which is the fastest growing revenue segment with up to 99.6% compared to 2014. In 2015, the global gaming market revenue increased 67.4%, gaining USD $325 million. The expectation until 2019 is a revenue growth to more than a USD $1 billion. Although U.S leads the world in terms of revenue with USD $175 million (38%), this amount is generted through merchandises, event tickets, sponsorships, online advertisement and media rights. hina represents 23% of global esports revenues with a total of USD $106 million in 2016.
However, the leader of gaming audience is Asia, which obviously includes China. So,it’s fair to recognize the power of Chinese audience by seeing that the global esports audience was 226 million gamers and the audience of esports enthusiast reaching up to 115 million. Not only audience increases, but China topped the list of winners in several gaming categories – the most recent (and the major of all) was the Dota 2 International Tournament, with a prize pool over USD $9 million. It’s quite an incentive to minor teams and players.
“GAINING MASS APPEAL IN A PLACE LIKE CHINA IS VERY DIFFICULT TO DO WITH A FULL-PRICE GAME,” SAID LEWIS WARD, A GAMING ANALYST AT INTERNATIONAL DATA CORPORATION. “SO THE FLEXIBLE BUSINESS MODELS OF THE PC HAVE PROVIDED AN OPPORTUNITY FOR LOWER-INCOME GAMERS TO STILL HAVE FUN WITH FREE-TO-PLAY GAMES.”
By that, the pastime became a dream job, incuding an extrme routine by having the whole team live together under one roof almost 24/7. They don’t even consider practicing unless all players and the manager are in the same room, working as a team.
It is not coincidence that 4 of the 10 highest-paid players in the world are Chinese.
Gaining more respect
Knowing all this, how does a country that has an austere (not to say a total censorship) ruling about television broadcasts of digital games become a leader in the esport industry?
Noticing that they cannot fight against the growth, the government has used esports tournaments to increase tourism and positive press for certain locations. And since 2013, esport has been officially recognized by the General Administration of Sport of China as a sport. By doing that, the government is trying to build an image that China is a tech-savvy nation as well as a nation that recognize the world to be changing fast and with lots of additional options besides manufacturing industry and olympic sports.
Also to prove a major respect to the esport industry, the Chinese Administration of Education formally announced the recognition of Esports Gaming and Management as an authorized college-affiliate majors and activities in September of this year. In other words, the Chinese government now recognizes the potential of gaming and the esports industry in the country. This surely can be considered a lot of respect. And its the official begin of a new era.
No doubt, the esports industry will keep growing for a long time. Especially in China.
Edited by Marian Härtel