Japan is one of the biggest countries and markets when it comes to game development and releases. In fact, a large proportion of the Japanese population is said to play video games in one form or another. However, despite being an industry leader when it comes to making games, Japan lags behind the rest of the world when it comes to esports.
Esports is essentially professional competition in video games. The industry has seen extremely fast pace growth in the recent past. There are millions of dollars invested in esports every year. With a $900 million revenue in 2018, esports is growing at a very fast pace. However, as we see the growth of esports globally, Japan has fallen behind other countries.
The reason for esports’ absence from Japan.
A local law prohibits game developers to hold competitions with a prize pool. It would be illegal for the game developers to entice users to buy their games with prize money offerings.
Let’s say a company were to come out with a game that costs ¥10,000 and hold a game tournament to promote its sales. If the top prize was set at ¥100,000, that would be construed as inappropriate sales promotion because it would move many people to buy the product in order to go for the prize money.
The Japan Esports Union came into existence last year and is responsible for the development of esports and tournaments in the region. With changes to the law, we can hope that there will be more Japanese esports tournaments in the near future. Last year, the Japanese Consumer Affairs Agency allowed esports tournaments with large cash prizes on the condition that participants be professional gamers. It is a significant step forward for a region which has a huge interest in esports.
Gov. Yuriko Koike has already announced that the city of Tokyo will host a two day event. This event will promote the video game and anime industry in the city. The city has allocated ¥50 million in the budget for fiscal 2019 for the two day event.
We hope that the esports industry sees significant growth in Japan. It is a country where there is already existing infrastructure for the fast growth of esports. With gaming culture prevalent in the country, we can hope to see more tournaments in the near future.