Esports have become incredibly popular around the globe, particularly in China and South Korea. If you’re an esports fan then you have probably noticed that Japan isn’t present at competitions such as LoL Worlds 2018 and many others. The reason is simple; esports wasn’t legalized in this amazing country. It’s all going to change now because Japan finally allowed esports gaming and tournaments. Keep reading to find out more.
Esports in Japan
Despite the fact that Japan is home to video games giants such as Sony, Nintendo, and Bandai Namco and esports have a massive fan base there, the activity itself wasn’t legalized. Basically, professional esports players weren’t able to compete in Japan. In all honesty, it was shocking to see that esports event were held in Europe and the US, but not Japan. Fortunately, the country is about to change that as they aim to catch things up in the esports universe.
The biggest issue is that law in Japan was fighting gambling, but the actions led to preventing professional tournaments to be held in this country as well. Lawmakers have found a way around this issue and their new solution opens the door to esports in Japan. In fact, they have already started issuing licenses to professional esports players in the land of rising sun.
The process of legalizing esports began with a tournament near Tokyo that kicked off on February 10 and lasted two days. Hundreds of players fought for a chance to win about $300,000 in prizes from game makers such as Mixi Inc. and Sony Corp. However, money wasn’t the only reason players did their best to beat the opponents. Steaks were even higher than we think. You see, the top few dozen players got the licenses to play in video game competitions in the future.
Why the change of heart?
As seen above, the primary obstacle for the legalization of esports in Japan was their law that targeted gambling, read more about esports betting. It’s highly unlikely that lawmakers felt sorry for all esports enthusiasts and decided to help them become a part of this futuristic world. So, why did they change their minds and come up with a solution that allows players to compete? One doesn’t have to be a genius to understand it comes down to money.
It is estimated that worldwide revenue from competitive gaming (including merchandising, broadcasts, ticket sales, and advertising) will reach $5 billion annually by 2020. At this point, Japan isn’t part of the esports world and, thereby, doesn’t get to benefit from the massive revenue this type of sport can generate.
In fact, due to the absence of Japan from the esports market, their companies have struggled to compete business-wise. With the increasing popularity of esports, tech companies and those from other niches are trying to find their place under the sun and become a part of this modern-day sport. Absence from this market is bound to take its toll on the way some business operates.
The Japanese market is growing at a fast rate. What’s more, this country has become the fastest-growing esports market in the East Asia region as more than 80% of the fans first encountered esports less than two years ago, but the popularity of multiplayer video games keeps growing and so does the interest in competitions.
The reason why most Japanese fans first came across esports two years ago is simple – Japanese software developers were slow to embrace multiplayer gaming due to a tremendous success with local audiences who preferred playing a game alone. Interests and trends have changed, but after multiplayer games have turned into a spectator sport, the ban of esports tournaments made it difficult for the industry to develop as quickly as it did in other parts of the world.
Struggles with crime and gambling made esports tournament collateral damage. These tournaments weren’t legalized and development of esports didn’t go as smoothly as it did elsewhere. Times are changing and after realizing that esports generate massive revenue lawmakers have finally found a solution that allows pro players to participate in gaming events.
About the Author: Amna El Tawil is a news reporter and a technology blogger. For the past five years, she has worked for major publications and TV networks in the Middle East, covering one of region’s hotspots. When Amna is not chasing after the truth amidst gas canisters, she can be found cheering her favorite football team on, or unwinding with some online gaming.