A study conducted by Japanese firm KADOKAWA Game Linkage revealed that revenue from the esports market in Japan saw a 27 percent year-on-year growth.
The revenue, which at the time the report was released, stood at more than $55 million. It also coincided with an expansion of the esports audience, thanks to a fanbase that represented a 26 percent growth, with 4.8 million fans in the country.
Of course, esports is continually competing with other forms of gaming available in Japan, like new slots and table games available at sites like CasinoWings. But then, that doesn't seem to have stopped esports from growing in the country.
KADOKAWA Game Linkage owns Famitsu.com, the largest news website on Japanese gaming. It also owns esports organization FAV Gaming, which largely focuses on fighting games. It’s also a brand of media conglomerate KADOKAWA. The report is an overview of the market growth of the esports market in Japan. Here we discuss some of the main findings.
Starting From “Year Zero”
The period covered in the report begins in 2018, widely regarded as being “year zero” of the pro esports scene in Japan. The year saw a change in gambling regulations that made it possible for esports events to be organized with prize money at stake. “Year Zero” also introduced the Japanese eSPorts Union (JeSU), which regulates and licenses the pro esports scene in the country.
Since that formal beginning, the market has seen tremendous growth. The report predicted that this growth would continue and see rapid development, predicting 300 percent growth from 2018-2023.
More Tournament and Team Deals
Tournaments and team sponsorship deals combine for three-quarters of the market. Other revenue streams include media rights, licensing, tickets, and merchandise. The report further predicted that many new tournaments and teams would be established and that there would be more companies seeking to tap into the market. It also predicted a growth in the number of sponsors.
The esports audience has grown alongside revenue, as 2019 saw a 26 percent increase in video viewers and tournament spectators, compared with 2018. It was tipped that both numbers would grow similarly over a five-year period, with fan numbers also expected to rise by 250 percent over a four-year period. The data revealed that approximately 10 percent of Japanese would represent the esports fan base in 2023 when compared with a forecast of the country’s total population.
Mobile Esports Predicted For Largest Growth
The authors of the report suggested that mobile esports would see the largest growth. One of the main reasons for this is the combination of low participation in PC gaming and the wealth of mobile devices in the country. There’s also the fact that many popular games from consoles and PCs are being lined up to get the mobile treatment. We’ve already seen this succeed in the form of mobile releases of Call of Duty and PUBG. The third reason is the advent of 5G networks. 5G was being referred to as a significant factor in the estimated audience growth due to the fact that it opens the door to more streaming possibilities.
The esports market in Japan may have started far later than in other countries, with slow growth attributed to social barriers and regulations. However, the effects of increasing popularity can be observed, not just in the audience and revenue growths, but also in the number of shops dedicated to esports in popular e-markets.