So last Tuesday I was interviewed by one of the press here in Japan, Nikkei BP, as they wanted to write an article about eSports in Japan. To be more precise, they work closely with Japan Sports Analytics Association (JSAA) and as a part of a promotion campaign of Sports Analytics Japan (SAJ) 2019, probably the largest sports analytics conference organized by JSAA that will be held next week in Ariake, Tokyo, they wanted an interview as my firm will be joining the event as a gold sponsor and myself presenting some thoughts of Japanese esports.
The interview itself went on for an hour including some photo sessions. Now there were two points worthy of mentioning.
1. I used to think that the overall esports market is not terribly appealing to our Japanese game publishers and the reasoning goes as follows. The so-called esports is mostly PC-based contents in that the game publisher provides the SW contents for (almost) free whereas Japanese game publishers not only sell SW contents but also the HW console to play with, which consists of significant portion of their revenue. This also means that the global and domestic publishers have completely different business model: in-game goods, advertisement revenue vs. hardcopy selling revenue of game HW & SW. The more esports get popular, the more likely that it will interfere with the revenue of traditional HW, SW sales, which could hurt the Japanese game publisher’s business, thus no concrete movement towards esports so far.
Now if we think a step further, this may be true for the Japanese game publisher but they may be overlooking a bigger and quickly growing market of esports which is inherently global by nature (unlike the normal game market which is more abide by the region, due to the cultural tendency of the area) and where more industrial stakeholders are involved.
During the interview, I came to an epiphany that the aforementioned (highlighted underline above) hypothesis may be misleading or even completely wrong.
One of the key success factors of esports blooming, in my opinion, is the fact that esports contents is fun to watch, not only as a player of the game (active engagement), but just as a viewer (passive engagement). Same thing happens for sports. I may not play soccer myself, but I used to avidly follow EPL You may not play basketball, but you may follow NBA season. Why? Because it’s just fun to watch!
What I’m trying to say is that we may be talking two completely different target markets: active vs. passive engagers. I suppose that the Japanese game publisher’s target has been the former whereas the global esports publisher has been for the both.
Discussion to be continued…
2. eSports gambling