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Japan firms target eSports to grab new business opportunities

/ 05:38 PM September 23, 2018

The Japan News/Asia News Network

CHIBA, Japan — The games industry at home and abroad is putting efforts into electronic sports, or eSports, which involves competitive video gaming. The market for eSports is expected to grow rapidly worldwide going forward, and many companies are focusing on eSports as a new business.

Tokyo Game Show 2018, the nation’s largest video game exhibition, began at Makuhari Messe in Chiba last week and a special stage equipped with 600 seats attracted particular attention.

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On the stage, a soccer game called “FIFA 18” that was developed by a U.S. company was being played. The players had signed professional contracts with professional soccer teams such as the J.League’s Urawa Red Diamonds and a Netherlands team. They played the video game while wearing the relevant teams’ uniforms. Many eSports competitions offering prize money are being held around the globe for purposes such as making certain sports teams known.

The Japan News/Asia News Network

Watched by millions

 At this year’s Tokyo Game Show, a record-high 668 companies and organizations are participating as exhibitors, with many of their displays relating to eSports.

A lot of companies are taking part in the show for the first time, including a maker of personal computers exclusively for video games, and another that sells chairs to support players so that they will not get tired while gaming.

In February, major Japanese game companies and others launched the Japan eSports Union and began certifying professional eSports players.

 According to the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, the global eSports market, including the sales of games and revenues from eSports events, is expected to increase to ¥176.5 billion by 2021. There are many fans who watch such events on video streaming sites, as well as those who go to actual venues — a total of 335 million people viewed such events across the world in 2017.

According to a survey by “Famitsu,” which publishes various media about gaming, in July this year, 41.1 percent of respondents said they know about eSports, up about 27 percentage points from the previous survey conducted in September last year.

However, the idea of “seeing games as sports” is not very widespread in Japan, so the domestic eSports market is unlikely to reach even ¥500 million in 2017.

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TAGS: Asia, Business, eSports, Japan
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