Top gaming group Tencent is increasing its investment in eSports tournaments in China.
eSports is a rapidly growing industry, set to challenge NFL with a predicted 300 million viewers by 2022.
Tencent, the world’s largest video games company by revenue, sees eSports as a way to promote its games and increase their longevity.
“Esports are not particularly profitable at the moment, but it encourages users to stick with our games, increasing our games’ revenues and extending their life cycle,” said Hou Miao, Tencent’s esports division manager (via FT).
Tencent already backs two of the world’s most-watched eSports tournaments. Players compete in international championships for Tencent’s mobile title Honour of Kings and PC game League of Legends.
Local governments to subsidise tournaments
It will now invest more in eSports tournaments in China, aided by subsidies from local governments. Local governments in China are subsidising eSports competitions to boost economic growth.
Tencent worked with the Shanghai government on a stadium that hosted the final of its Honour of Kings tournament in January. 15,000 fans attended the event.
“We will organise more esports events this year, because many local governments want to increase their investment,” said Hou Miao. “The scale of our events will be larger.”
Honour of Kings has been sponsored by McDonald’s, Mars and Volkswagen’s joint-venture in China.
Last month, Nike announced a four-year sponsorship with Tencent’s League of Legends Pro League.
Meanwhile, Tencent and Super Generation Investment are planning an AI ‘future town’ in Minhang, China.
The park, the Shanghai International New Cultural and Creative eSports Centre, is planned for Hongqiao, a town in the Minhang District. It has been described as the first “all-in-one professional eSports industrial park” in China and is slated to open in 2020.
Previously, Blooloop spoke with industry experts Professor Andy Miah and Brian Mirakian about the growth of eSports and what this will mean for the visitor experience.
Image and video: Populous