Japan opens largest esports park to enhance competitive gaming


TOKYO, April 20 (Reuters) – Japan’s biggest esports park opened on Wednesday as fans hope it will help turn the country from video game classics such as Super Mario and Zelda into a capable champion to face China in competitive play.

“The Japanese esports market is growing but still far behind overseas. We hope to close the gap,” said Yasuo Hara, president of Tokyo Esports Gate, which developed the Red Tokyo Tower attraction.

Located on three floors at the base of the iconic Tokyo Tower, the park offers space for esports competition as well as the latest car racing, virtual reality and gaming simulators.

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Japanese gamers have been slow to jump into esports, preferring homegrown role-playing game (RPG) console games such as “Final Fantasy” and “Dragon Quest” and mobile titles such as “Monster Strike”.

“It’s still Donkey Kong country,” said Serkan Toto, founder of games industry consultancy Kantan Games, referring to the classic Nintendo series of platforms.

Nintendo has a loyal fanbase in Japan for its Switch device even as Sony and Microsoft battle it out in Western markets with next-gen consoles.

The Kyoto-based company released multiplayer hits “Splatoon” and “Smash Bros.” but is less active in promoting competitive gaming than companies such as Riot Games, which is owned by Chinese Tencent.

Japan’s reluctance to esports contrasts with neighbors South Korea and China, where enthusiasm is reflected in the competitive strength of teams in multiplayer PC titles such as California-based Riot’s “League of Legends.” .

China, where console makers have struggled to break through due to regulatory hurdles, will account for nearly a third of global esports revenue this year, which is driven primarily by sponsorship, according to the firm. Newzoo studies.

The growth of streaming on platforms like Amazon’s Twitch during the COVID-19 pandemic has proven a tailwind for esports, with global revenue expected to approach $1.38 billion this year, Newzoo estimates. .

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Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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