China’s $3 billion e-sports market – China’s latest business and technology news

Business & Technology

A summary of the top news in Chinese business and technology for August 1, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.

JINHUA, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: A woman running business of banners poses with a support banner for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at Yiwu International Trade Centre on November 10, 2016 in Jinhua, Zhejiang Province of China. Businessmen at Yiwu International Trade Centre exported their election banners to foreign countries during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

E-sports is the word people use to describe video game competitions that are organized and commercialized in way similar to physical sports: real-time competitions between celebrity gamers with massive audiences — although for e-sports in China, viewers are almost always strictly online.

E-sports have become big business in China. TechNode reports that the Bird’s Nest, the iconic 90,000-seat Olympic athletic stadium, will host the 2017 League of Legends World Championship, a live competition to determine the best players of one of the most popular video games in the world. League of Legends is published by Riot Games and works on Microsoft Windows and Mac OS platforms; it follows a freemium model so you can start playing for free but pay for upgrades.

TechNode says that the Chinese government’s attitude to e-sports “has long been ambivalent.” In 2003, China was one of the first countries to recognize e-sports as an official sports program (in Chinese). Shortly afterward, however, there was a ban “on the broadcast of video gaming programs on TV, long popular in neighboring South Korea.”

But TechNode says the e-sports market was “valued at $3 billion in 2016,” and “expected to hit 220 million audiences at the end of 2017.”