Esports in search of recognition

Tokyo (Japan)

From our correspondent

Contrary to what one would tend to think, e-sport – the practice of video games in competition – is struggling to take off in Japan. The discipline does not know the same enthusiasm as in South Korea, the United States or China.

According to an estimate from NewZoo, a Dutch company specializing in analyzes of the video game sector, e-sport represents a market of 900 million euros worldwide in 2021, up 230% compared to 2016. Players famous people thus sweep bonuses of several million euros, for example on a competition like The International, a tournament played on the strategy game Dota 2. Even the International Olympic Committee (IOC) plans to make medalist disciplines of e- sport for the Los Angeles Games in 2028.

But Japan, despite being the source of many video games, is ” very late “, regrets Hirokazu Hamamura, vice-president of the Japan Electronic Sports Union, founded in 2018. ‚ÄúDespite strong growth in recent years, the country’s market is only 50 million euros. “

According to him, the discipline is above all a victim of the success of video games, very popular, which are played on consoles (Playstation and Nintendo in the lead), unlike e-sport which is played on a computer. “It’s a shame, because everyone can take part in an esports match on an equal footing, regardless of age, sex, body type”, he explains.

Chikara Kawakami, former professional esports player known by his pseudonym Shaka, also deplores the delay Japan has taken in the field. “I have always dreamed of becoming a professional, but it is only in recent years that we have teams capable of guaranteeing economic stability to their players”, he emphasizes.

Can Japan catch up? The country’s market is expected to grow by 214% by 2024, predicts a study by the Kadokawa Ascii Research Laboratories. The discipline now enjoys the support of the Ministry of the Economy, which sees it as a “Promising area”.

In the process, around fifteen teams with significant financial resources were created, allowing young people to dream of a professional career. “For the popularity of esports to explode in Japan, only one player of international level remains”, put Hirokazu Hamamura.


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