Nowadays, we hear a lot of news about bursting popularity of eSports over the last two decades. Japan makes and sells a lot of video games every year but surprisingly, eSports is not so popular compared to other countries. Why?
eSports: What’s been going on in the world and Japan
eSports is a kind of sport competition using video games. It is often held online between players individually or as teams. Now that the network technologies have been improved and services like Live streaming and 5G appeared, eSports is growing popularity internationally. In fact, 106 million people viewed the 2017 Worlds eSports competition and global revenue is growing to more than $1 billion over the past few years. The number of eSports players and fans are getting bigger and bigger each year. Many game developers provide funding for tournaments and everyone in the world can enjoy watching the games online from anywhere now, and even the International Olympic Committee is thinking about including eSports for future Olympic events: In 2017, Olympic committee concluded that eSports could be considered as a sporting activity which involves preparation and intense training that can be comparable to athletes in sports.
Nonetheless, eSports is still underdeveloped in Japan because of anti-gambling laws which prohibit paid professional gaming tournaments. For example, under a law called “Act against Unjustifiable Premiums and Misleading Representations”, organizers of an event can not give a monetary prize over 100,000 yen (About $930) to a winner of a competition. Viewers can not bet for competitions and tournaments can not be held at a venue that has no permission for holding such events.
Japan is on the way to join the trend
Seeing the rapid growth of eSports all over the world, the Japanese government started to look it as a new way to boost its economy. In 2019, eSports revenue in Japan was over $56 million and the market is just getting bigger and bigger. The Ministry of Japan hopes to make $2.6 billion a year by 2025 and now legal experts together with game industry are trying to create guidelines to promote and organize eSports tournaments and events.
Some events to use eSports to help rehabilitate people with disabilities and also to promote their engagement with society were held several times and most people in Japan are positive about the growth of eSports. Tokyo alone have over 9 eSports cafes where customers can play games and brush up their skills to win for a tournaments with high spec PC and gadgets.
Japan has been a leader in making video games and there are a lot of skilled video game players. I’m sure there will be a lot more professional players from here once the environment for eSports is set!
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