If there is one word that best describes Japan’s approach to many forms of commerce and business, it is innovation. It is therefore unsurprising that recent moves in the company to help develop Esports in Japan have been almost unique to the country.
With estimates that Esports in Japan will generate around $95 million dollars a year over the next two years, with some sources estimating that by 2023 it could be worth as much as $141 million, it is clear that Esports in Japan is big business, but what is so special about how the Japanese are approaching Esports?
One of the key differences is that in Japan there has been a greater emphasis on the social element of Esports and inclusivity across all areas of society, rather than a direct focus on Esports games themselves and that is best highlighted by some of the new initiatives that have been put into place across the country in recent times.
What initiatives have been put in place to develop Esports in Japan?
One of the most intriguing of the new developments is the opening this past Spring of the new e-ZONe Denno Kukan hotel. Denno Kukan is a Japanese term which relates to cyberspace but which literally translates as “electric mind space”.
This eight-storey building has guest rooms on the fourth through to eight floors, but the first three floors of the hotel are dedicated to Esports gaming, in the form of a massive gaming arena.
Able to allow individuals to play at consoles for free as a guest at the hotel, or to accommodate many more players as part of a larger tournament, the hotel has been specifically designed to cater for the needs of any player of Esports in Japan.
That means super-fast internet, accommodation that also includes two computer consoles and access to the Internet so you can play in your room. Located in the famed Nipponbashi district of Osaka, the city which is home to two of Japan’s biggest gaming companies, SNK and Capcom, the new hotel boasts futuristic looking décor as well as a total of 94-beds.
One of the most interesting initiatives launched this past July in the city of Kobe in Japan was a dedicated Esports facility that is open to citizens aged 60 or over.
Newcomers to the world of Esports in Japan can take a 2-hour lesson (costing around $10), which will show them the basics of Esports gaming and allow them to get involved at a level they are comfortable with. A number of easier, slower paced games are available to play and practise their skills on before they take on the more frenetic pace of Esports gaming.
In addition to teaching older Japanese citizens about Esports and gaming in general, the Kobe center also wants to develop its teaching program to encourage older citizens to take on a mentoring role to those 60+ year olds that come through its doors who are not yet perhaps fully aware of what Esports in Japan entails.
Is Japan doing anything to attract higher level Esports gaming?
One of the most impressive aspects of this Japanese approach to Esports is that it is a multi-faceted approach. In addition to the new hotel and the over 60s center, PlayBrain has announced that it has raised $6m in funding to manage tournaments and create content specifically for Esports tournaments in Japan.
This level of investment together with the other initiatives outlined above will mean that Esports in Japan will start to grow much more quickly, as the forecasts mentioned previously show.
Most pleasing for Japanese Esports fans and players is that PlayBrain already has established links with some of the biggest Esports software producers in the world today including Activision Blizzard, EA, Bandai Namco Entertainment, Twitch, Alienware, Intel and Riot Games.
With the foundation of the Japan Esports Union providing an initial fragmented Esports industry in Japan with a more unifying single voice, it does seem as if Japan, while perhaps lagging behind established Esports centers like South Korea, North America, and Europe, is starting to close the gap very quickly.
And with all these new initiatives aimed at the whole of Japanese society, few would bet against the Japanese making up that lost ground in the Esports industry, in double quick time.