Since 2018, the popularity of competitive video gaming in Japan is rising. The eSports market in Japan is estimated at 8.7 billion Japanese yen as of 2020. Forecasts put the market’s value at 18.4 billion yen by 2024. These are impressive results when considering until 2018, Japan had very little eSports.
Arcade and console gaming has been part of Japan’s culture for decades. Competitive gaming is a new phenomenon. Japan is still catching up to South Korea and China where competitive gaming has been booming for at least two decades now.
Today there are at least 6.9 million eSports fans in Japan. Those figures cover the period between 2018 and 2020. The numbers for 2021 are still being gathered. Japan has had several strong developments in eSports that will continue to raise viewership.
Japan is estimated as the third-biggest gaming market in the world. According to Newzoo, Japan boasts 67.6 million players and $19.2 billion in game revenues in 2018.
This data together points to the fact that Japan is developing its eSports ecosystem at a fast pace. The arrival of new eSports establishments is indicative of that.
eSports Leagues in Japan
Since legalizing eSports as a recognized career path in 2018, there have been several important launches. The League of Legends Japan League switched to a franchised model in 2019. This enabled teams to compete in one of the most respected and entertaining video games in the world.
Japanese Overwatch players have been some of the most talented competitors. Many earning top salaries from playing video games they exceling at. Another worthwhile game is Hearthstone which is also played competitively.
However, there have been more efforts to introduce competitive events to Japan. Valorant, another Riot Games’ title, is running the VCT event in Japan as well. Offering local players the opportunity to qualify for global competitions for the game.
A professional eSports league has been launched in Japan on more than one occasion. It’s noticeable that the popularity of organized video gaming is continuing to grow. Dota 2 and Overwatch are yet to make a strong showing in the country. Despite this, present results are encouraging about the future of pro video gaming in Japan.
Top eSports Players in Japan
Japan is a young competitive gaming market. Yet, it has already cultivated local talent. One way to gauge success in competitive video gaming is the total earnings of individual players.
eSports Earnings is a website dedicated to data about the earnings of individual players. According to them, the most successful eSports player in the country is Feg. He earned over $1 million playing Shadowverse. A relatively unknown eSports game with a huge following in Japan.
Other successful players like Tokido and Gachikun compete in Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition. Glory is a notable Japanese Hearthstone player. Those three all earn around $250,000 or more. That makes them some of the most successful players the country has seen.
Unfortunately, these players mentioned are outliers at this moment. The number of Japanese eSports players to have crossed the $100,000 threshold is only 20 players so far. As eSports becomes more popular more players are carving out a future for themselves. Japan is becoming a big part of the competitive gaming and eSports ecosystem.
How Asia Influenced Esports
It’s true that the world’s most popular eSports games were initially developed specifically for the Asian market. Actually, Asia is known as the home of competitive video gaming today. StarCraft has been televised in South Korea since the 1990s. It became an immediate success when it first aired.
In fact, South Koreans were so fascinated with the game that they were able to quickly elevate the game to a sport. People were showing how they can defeat any opponent even when playing blindfolded and just listening to the game to collect information.
StarCraft was quickly elevated to an art form. It also paved the way for other successful franchises. Warcraft III, Counter-Strike and Dota quickly followed. Initially, these games didn’t have solid organizational backings. The strong grassroots culture that saw them through.
It all started in Asia as the countries there continued to play video games for the sake of it. There are many reasons why you should give video gaming a shot today. As to Japan, the country is establishing its own footprint in the competitive world.