Japan has seen slower growth in the esports industry than China and the West, but the nation’s government is hoping to change that. According to a report from Japan-based Kyodo News (via SportsMedia), The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is looking to collaborate with partners to grow Japan’s esports industry.
As part of the initiative, METI will organize large esports tournaments in Japan and employ legal experts to examine the field’s complex legal issues.
In 2019, Japan’s esports industry brought in just $55 million. While analytics firm BCN estimates that Japan’s esports market will grow to $140 million by 2023, METI has a far more ambitious goal: it hopes for the industry to generate $2.6 billion in revenue by 2025. For context, the worldwide esports market hit $1.1 billion in 2019.
METI’s new initiative is the latest attempt to buoy Japan’s esports industry which has faced a variety of hurdles and missteps to date. Until 2018, organizers were prohibited by law from offering large prizes for esports tournaments. While this law was later amended, the remaining ambiguity resulted in a scandal for the Japanese Esports Union (JeSU). JeSU claimed that obtaining its licenses was the only way to win prize money in Japanese esports, but that claim was debunked by the government. However, many potential competitor organizations were deterred from entering in the meantime. Another factor which has hampered the development of Japanese esports is reluctance on the part of Japanese companies like Nintendo to fund prize pools for their games.
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