Japan and esports – a match made in heaven

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Published on: 08/03/2019

It’s no secret that Japan is one of the leading forces when it comes to esports in the world – as a matter of fact, with a total of $19.2 billion spent by the 67.6 million players in the country, it is the third-biggest games market in the whole world. This is very impressive given that a comparatively low amount of the population actually plays games – while other countries see rates of 50% and more, between 15% and 30% of people play console and PC games, with a huge gap between genders – far fewer women play than men!

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© Japan Times

Despite this, the Japan’s esports sector has shown rapid growth and has seen more than its fair share of development in recent years. With some huge tournaments taking place in the country of the rising sun, it’s no surprise either – the EVO Japan alone drew significant interest earlier this year, and plenty of other events do as well.

Another example would be the Clash Royale League finals that also took place in Japan end of last year. Unlike the EVO Japan that happened in Fukuoka, the Clash Royale finals took place in the capital, Tokyo. With a $1 million prize pool, the tournament’s organiser and game dev Supercell really set the bar high – although in the west, mobile games aren’t as popular as console or PC ones, they are extremely popular in Asia, especially in countries like Japan, China and Korea. Japan is a pretty good choice for a location for this sort of tournament; there are suitable esports locations all over the country and new ones are being built still.

While the country’s esports pros can’t necessarily always keep up with American or Korean players, Japan has brought forth plenty of internationally successful esports athletes and continues to do so now. There is even government support now – because of previous legal restrictions, esports were slower to take hold than regular gaming, which have, of course, been a ‘thing’ in Japan for years and years.

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© AP

This promises a bright future for esports in the country, and it’s being led by the Japanese Esports Union or JESU that was formed just a year ago, in February. This organisation is going to be issuing licenses to pro gamers in order for them to bypass certain law restrictions that affect, for example, things like the allowed winnings, which are capped to certain amount.

With the possibility of higher pay-outs and bigger prize pools, Japan is hoping to attract even more players and events in the future. As mentioned, the games that are popular are a bit different from the ones that are played in the West – in Japan, the most regularly watched esports franchise is Street Fighter, for example, and nearly twice as many people play mobile games as they do PC/console ones, especially women. 32% of women play mobile games, while only 15% play other kinds. 41% of men play mobile games, while about 30% play console or PC ones.

Konami Creative Center Ginza

© Konami

Another big change in the esports world of Japan is the esports GINZA studio that is moving its home base. Normally something like this wouldn’t be a big deal at all, except that this particular studio is part of the Konami group… and that their new base will be a public hall outfitted for various esports and tournaments – they will even offer classes aimed at fostering human resources in esports there! If that wasn’t enough, they are constructing an entirely new hall that will be complete at the end of November this year for this purpose – the KCC GINZA, short for Konami Creative Centre Ginza.

Read Also: Will Jump Force join the Fighting Game esports ranks?

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Author
Melanie H. - "MelanieH" | Esports writer and gamer

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