China is a big name in the global esports market, as it is the largest market in the world. But the country’s recent policies and regulations might have affected the esports boom. According to industry insiders, it is not the licensing restrictions, but the COVID-19 containment protocols that are the real nuisance to the gaming industry.
According to Zhao Mingyi, the general manager of one of the biggest publishers NetEase, it is becoming increasingly difficult to organize events amidst strict COVID-19 control measures. Esports events require organizing offline events across the country, hosting audiences in the venues, and coordinating with various clubs. All these activities are suffering due to the pandemic protocols.
NetEase’s Naraka: Bladepoint competition has not sold a single ticket despite organizing four rounds of competition since July.
Zhao observes, “Through large-scale offline competitions, we would be able to keep close contact with our fans and hear their feedback. It is also a good experience for players to hear fans cheer offline.”
Only a dozen of fans attended the live finale of Naraka: Bladepoint and the majority of the audience streamed the finale. League of Legends Pro League hosted its events with no live audience.
Whereas, on the other side of the Globe, the USA has hosted its EVO 2022 Tekken 7 tournament in Las Vegas, with a staggeringly huge live audience. The event was also broadcasted on the Twitch channel, increasing its reach among esports fans in the States.
Tang Jiajun, director of the Chinese Esports Working Council observes, “In the first half of this year, Covid-19 has profoundly affected the development of the esports industry,”
China’s esports industry registered its first decline in revenues in the last 5 years (10.12 percent year on year). Under such difficult circumstances, it will be difficult for the world’s largest esports market to prosper and raise its stakes.