In 2021, the Asia esports industry accounted for 57%—or approximately 630 billion USD —of the global esports market, per a Niko Partners report. Countries like China (403 million USD), Japan (69 million USD), and South Korea (60 million USD) generated the most revenue within the region.
Given that Asia’s contribution dwarfs that of its counterparts in North America and Europe, the region has firmly cemented itself as the global esports superpower and now finds itself at the center of a potential business boom.
Esports in Asia
While technology penetration does help drive the rapid development of esports, other factors also play an important role. To understand how esports has grown at an accelerated rate, one must first have a deeper insight into the esports ecosystem. Doing so will also help interested parties understand the areas in which they are best suited to explore potential business investments.
The YCP Solidiance white paper “The Next Level: The Rise of Esports in the Philippines” breaks down the esports ecosystem into five key components:
- Game Publishers – The parties primarily responsible for game development and maintenance via period patches. Some examples of famous game publishers include Riot Games, Blizzard Entertainment, and Epic Games.
- League Organizers – This usually consists of independent third parties who oversee broadcasting and live streaming of official esports tournaments. League organizers, who can sometimes be the game publishers themselves, are responsible for procuring talents such as production crew and broadcast talent.
- Esports Organizations – These groups are professional teams who field players to participate in esports tournaments. It is common practice for esports organizations to create several teams, each specializing in their respective esport.
- Online Viewership – In comparison to traditional sports where television is the main medium, esports tournaments and related activities instead thrive online via live streaming. Popular platforms include Twitch and YouTube. Depending on the company and their contract with game publishers, some streaming platforms maintain exclusive distribution rights.
- Advertisers – Depending on viewership numbers, brands will seek out partnerships, collaborations, or associations with anything esports-related (tournaments, organizations, player talent, etc.). The interest from advertisers is what lynchpins the esports ecosystem.
The comprehensive esports ecosystem that currently exists in Asia reflects that several industries and players are involved, but more importantly, it also shows that new market entrants can explore an equally diverse amount of investment opportunities.
Industry Opportunities Related to Esports
Of the ecosystem components previously discussed, online viewership and advertising have the most appeal in attracting investment opportunities. The two are closely related as advertisers who invest are most interested in visibility, which online viewership provides. For big businesses with abundant resources who are looking to increase brand exposure through esports viewership, this investment route is most realistic.
Meanwhile, smaller businesses that cannot compete with bigger companies in the broadcast advertising realm can still explore investment elsewhere. Specifically, brands with limited resources can seek out grassroots partnerships or collaborations with smaller esports organizations that are not yet well established in their respective esport.
Beyond this, businesses operating in other industries can also explore different ways to involve themselves in esports. For instance, the ARENA eSports Hotel recently opened in Singapore to cater to esports enthusiasts in the tourism and hospitality industries. Furthermore, much like with traditional sporting events like the Olympics, governments and businesses alike could also look to create tourism initiatives that coincide with esports tournaments hosted in their country.
Considering that esports is growing rapidly despite still being a relatively new industry, the possible avenues for investment are aplenty. Equally encouraging is the interest of stakeholders to continue the industry’s development, which inevitably drives the desire to entertain business ventures no matter the industry. Moving forward, expect Asia to be at the center of it all and for the esports industry to continue its accelerated development.
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