National

Japan plans ambitious expansion of esports to boost economy through 2025

Kyodo

The government has an ambitious plan to expand Japan’s esports industry with the private sector to help revitalize regional economies and increase social participation by people with disabilities, with an eye to generating ¥285 billion ($2.6 billion) in economic benefits a year by 2025, sources close to the matter said.

The global esports market is estimated to be worth ¥100 billion, with the United States, China and parts of Europe seeing fast growth. In Japan, however, competitive gaming hasn’t really caught fire as a sports event, and the video game market remains dominated by single-player titles designed for smartphones and the gaming consoles of Nintendo Co. and Sony Corp.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will work with companies and legal experts to draw up guidelines for promoting Japan’s esports industry, which lacks expertise in organizing large tournaments and dealing with intellectual property rights and other legal issues related to game developers, the sources said.

Through these efforts, the ministry expects esports to generate at least ¥285 billion in economic benefits for regional economies from ticket sales, online viewing fees and advertising revenue, as well as from tournament hosting and corporate equipment supply by 2025.

According to marketing research and news service company BCN Inc., the size of Japan’s esports market is expected to grow from ¥6.1 billion in 2019 to ¥15.3 billion in 2023, propelled by the greater use of 5G telecommunications services and the entry of more game makers into the market. Its data consist of advertising revenue, which accounts for about 75 percent of the market, plus licensing fees, media rights, ticket sales, prize money and merchandise sales.

On a local level, there also have been attempts to use esports to provide health and social benefits.

A nonprofit organization near Tokyo, the Saitama City Citizens Social Network, has established an association to organize esports events for retired people to improve their cognitive health. It claims it is the first group of its kind in the world.

In Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture, an esports event for people with disabilities was held using special controllers customized for their different, individual needs.

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