China remains the largest single-country esports market in the world, accounting for 36 percent of the industry's global share, despite the Chinese government's crackdowns on the games sector in recent years.
While Asia overall accounts for 57 percent of the esports market, China is by far the biggest contributor to the massive region. China generated $403.1 million in esports revenue and there were 434 million esports fans last year. This comes from Niko Partners' latest Esports in China report.
China's esports market grew 14 percent year-on-year in 2021 despite a "tough regulatory market", said Niko senior analyst Daniel Ahmad. The tough regulatory environment Ahmad refers to includes halting regulatory approval for new games from July 2021 to April 2022. China's two biggest games companies, in NetEase and Tencent, are still suffering from their games being held up for approval, meaning they cannot go on sale. Beijing also introduced stringent limits on how much time minors could spend playing online games last year.
This could have a longterm impact on esports, said Alexander Champlin, head of esports at Niko Partners. "What these regulations do particularly around youth gaming is really kind of clamp down on esports player pipelines," Champlin told CNBC, explaining that the clampdown might have an impact on future generations of esports fans and professionals.
However, overall the esports market remains one of the brighter spots, and still enjoys institutional support in China. "Its audience grew by 11.8 percent year-on-year in 2021 but Niko Partners predicts China's YoY esports growth will begin to slow as the market is reaching a saturation point," Ahmad revealed in a Twitter thread.
Asia accounts for 57 percent of the $1.1 billion global esports market. The top esports genres are battle royale and MOBA, with League of Legends, PUBG, and Valorant the leading esports PC titles. On mobile it's PUBG Mobile, Free Fire, and League of Legends: Wild Rift. Niko Partners predicts India and Southeast Asia will see the largest YoY revenue growth by end 2022 with 18.3 percent and 17.2 percent respectively.
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