Esports in China: More than just a hobby

Following its economic development, China really put digitalization and new technologies at the core of its ambitions to conquer the world. Thanks to companies that are specialized in new technologies, AI, and VR, China was able to stand out in many new technologies-related industries, such as the esports industry which is one of the most promising ones in China. With the support of local industrial policies and innovations such as the 5G technology, the esports industry will grow faster than ever in the years to come. However, esports in China can not be considered as a simple hobby, it has become a real profession. This article will show you the impact of esports in China, and we will give you some tips and advice on how to conquer the Chinese esports market.

What is esports?

Esports (also known as electronic sports) is a kind of competition based on video games that can be played on consoles and computers, using a local network or an internet connexion. It became popular since big companies have organized events reuniting esports gamers. During these events, the public can watch multiplayer video game competitions with professional players playing as individuals or as a team. Some of them are even considered celebrities in the esports industry, with thousands of fans encouraging them during these events. It is also important to underline the fact esports are more accessible than before thanks to new technologies and live streaming that has greatly contributed to its influence among young players.

Esports for professionals in China

While video games are designed for all kinds of players, many esports games are specially designed to be played professionally. For example, developers can decide to include dedicated esports features in their games or even adapt them to high-level competitions. Moreover, you have to know that China is amongst the few countries to authorize licensed professional esports players and to recognize it as a real profession.

Esports for spectators and amateurs in China

(© Forbes)

Because these games are mainly created for demonstrations during esports tournaments, companies had to find a way to include spectators as well, in order for them to be engaged in the game. To do so, some companies have also included some observing features especially for spectators in games like StarCraft, League of Legends, and Call of Duty. 

The most common video games genres of esports in China & the World

(© League of Legends)

Esport is mostly used in multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBA), fighting and card games, first-person shooter (FPS), real-time strategy (RTS) games, battle royale, etc. To give you a few examples of the most popular esports franchises, League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Street Fighter, Starcraft, and Super Smash Bros are among the top games in the global esports industry.

Overview of the esports industry in China

In recent years, China became the world’s largest esports market. While many people would say that esports is just a childish hobby, esports is in fact part of China’s policy in terms of innovations. Since 2003, esports has even been recognized as an official sport by China’s General Administration of Sports. The esports industry is the perfect illustration of China’s capacity to create a unique experience thanks to new technologies and electronic games.

Esports: A Very Lucrative Industry in China

If you thought that video games were just a hobby, you might change your mind according to the numbers of the Chinese esports market. In fact, the esports industry is a real business worth billions of yuans in China. The e-sport market is not even at its peak yet, but it is already worth 165 billion yuans as of 2021.  

With more than 665 million players (twice the population of the U.S) who spend over 278 billion yuans in video games, China boasts the world’s most lucrative gaming market. This phenomenon can be explained by the growth of Chinese consumers’ purchasing power over the years, as well as Chinese giants’ investments that have spurred game entertainment. 

Therefore, Asian countries such as South Korea and China, are the fastest-growing markets in the world for eSports as these two countries have authorized licensed professional players since 2000. The esports industry is not only lucrative for big companies, but also for professional players thanks to tournaments offering a prize pool of over a dozen million U.S. dollars. Thus, many professional Chinese players earn millions of yuan per month thanks to esports tournaments and sponsors.

The esports sector has both a sporting and a cultural dimension. It has multiple links with the sports, technological, social, and psychological sectors. Moreover, it is also a powerful tool for China’s economy. In December 2020, esports was listed as one of the official events of the 2022 Asian Games to be held in Hangzhou, and esports is on its way to be a discipline at the Olympic Games.

Esports’ players in China

Although players come from all over the world, China is one of the countries which is the most interested in esports. China was the first to develop a stadium entirely dedicated to esports: the Zhongxian Stadium in Chongqing which has more than 7000 seats. The esports industry is going even further with several schools of e-sport across the country.

Following the growth in popularity of the gaming industry, the number of female players has been increasing over the years. As of 2019, women accounted for 46.2 percent of the video players in China. Over half of them played multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA).

Who are the most popular professional esports players in China?

As of 2021, Lu Yao, also known as Somnus丶M, was the highest-earning Chinese eSports player. It is estimated that the 25-years-old player earned almost 3 million U.S. dollars during his eSports gaming career. Xu Linsen took second place with 2.9 million U.S. dollars, just before Wang Chunyu and Zhang Yiping. Most of these esports gamers were playing Dota 2, a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) video game.

As of 2021, Li Xiao Meng, also known as Liooon, was the highest-earning female eSports player in China and ranked second in the world. It is estimated that the Hearthstone player earned about 238,010 U.S. dollars in just 7 esports tournaments.

The Chinese esports phenomenon

(© Tencent / Universal)

Following the popularity of the esports industry, Tencent and Beijing Universal Resort have recently announced their partnership for the 2022 seasonal event. Tencent’s Honor of Kings, Peacekeeper Elite, QQ Speed, and card game Doudizhu, as well as several other games, will be officially added to the Beijing Universal Resort event. 

In the near future, we will see cultural elements of esports in the diverse entertainment scenarios of the resort. We believe that this collaboration can create emotion that extends from online to offline and a richer and more immersive customer experience,”

said Xiaoyi Ma, Senior Vice President of Tencent.

This collaboration is part of the esports phenomenon, with major actors in the new technologies industries harvesting in this promising market.

To put it in a nutshell, esports is much more than just a hobby for some people as it can be a way to earn money and support its family: 

The potential of esports for foreign brands

The esports market is therefore very profitable for brands selling goods to “gamers”. For example, the Swiss company Logitech has released the range “Logitech G” including gaming accessories and China was one of its biggest audience. After that, the brand has seized the opportunity of sponsoring professional esports teams, which allows them at the same time to increase their sales, as fans wanted to buy the same equipment as their idols.

How to Promote your Esports company in China?

As you have seen, the esports industry is full of opportunities for foreign brands that are ready to enter the competition in China. However, you should be aware that the Chinese market is really different than anywhere else in the world. Thus, you will need to plan your strategy beforehand according to the Chinese market and Chinese consumer’s tastes.

Creating a WeChat Account

As a must-have in China, you will need to have a verified WeChat account in order to promote your brand in China.

If you want more informations about WeChat, you can read our full article:

Social media

If you want to reach a wide audience, you will need to have an online reputation, as well as to use social media to promote your brand and events. If you want more information about the best social media for your brand, you can contact us directly.

Learn more about Chinese Social Media:

Partner with KOLs

Key Opinion Leaders are influencers that have a large community of followers. The gamer community will follow their news. That’s why, making partnerships and sponsorships with this type of influencer is a big  step because your brand will gain a strong visibility. In addition, Chinese people have great difficulty in trusting a brand without having opinions or recommendations from those around them. A product used by their favorite gamer is therefore much more attractive than another.

Contact us

As a Digital marketing agency specialized in the Chinese Market, GMA can help you to enter in the Chinese export market. With almost 10 years of expertise, we have the most advanced solutions to help you increase your ROI. Do not hesitate to contact our experts for more information about the Chinese market or our services.

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