The concept of tens of millions of viewers actively watching other people play video games, be that on TV or via computers and mobile devices, would have been unthought of perhaps as little as a decade ago, but now the e-sports market is very much in full flow and proving a huge success globally.
The interest has even translated to e-sports becoming a big sports betting market and has every sign of being as big a winner as cricket online sportsbooks in New York, showing that the industry is one that is only going to get stronger. Now we see this very evidently in the fact that the market is proving a massive phenomenon in China, despite recent gaming crackdowns that have been put in place by the county’s government.
The e-sports market has soared over the past year, with revenue rising by 14% in 2021, which is quite astonishing when you take into account various factors, including the aforementioned regulatory changes and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those regulations in China include moves to limit the amount of time under 18s can play video games to just three hours a week, which isn’t the kind of usage one would usually associate with e-sports players of the future.
Indeed these changes are said to be likely to affect the growth of professional gaming in the country, as echoed by Alexander Champlin, head of e-sports at Niko Partners, who commented;
“What these regulations do, particularly around youth gaming, is really kind of clamp down on e-sports player pipelines. So while there is still a lot of excitement around e-sports titles and e-sports celebrities, we’re a little concerned about what this will do for future generations of e-sports fans and e-sports professionals … and what this might do for China’s historical dominance in the space,”
There is something of a contradiction in terms of how the country as a whole deals with gaming and e-sports in particular. After all, there are plans for a massive 500,000 square meter e-sports arena in Shanghai, which is a huge undertaking, to say the least, and is seemingly a sign that the country is keen on fostering both the market and potential players.
Clearly, a big factor in the growth comes from the sheer size of the population of the country, and Champlin sees this as being a big plus for the industry;
“What China has is [a] sort of advantage in the e-sports space, is a really phenomenally large market with a really huge population of gamers that are interested in e-sports content … in becoming e-sports professionals themselves,”
So clearly, China’s political elite will need to find a good balance between its keenness to look after the viewing and playing habits of its younger generation while also maximizing the revenue that the e-sports industry can undoubtedly provide in the short and long term.
China is the largest country in the world of e-sports, and if well managed and regulated, it can retain that position as a global leader for generations to come.