Main­land pushes fron­tiers of the sta­ple PC

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By MENGJING mengjing@chi­nadaily.com.cn Wy­att Bush con­trib­uted to this story.

A sta­ple of Chi­nese gam­ing has long been the per­sonal com­puter. To­day, not only is their sale in­creas­ing in China, but the coun­try in many ways is push­ing the fron­tier of PC gam­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to mar­ket re­search firm In­ter­na­tional Data Cor­po­ra­tion, the num­ber of gam­ing note­books sold in China reached 2.3 mil­lion units in 2015, with an­other 692,000 be­ing sold in the first quar­ter of 2016 — a year-onyear growth of 46.7 per­cent.

IDC at­tributes the rise in per­sonal gam­ing com­put­ers to the in­creas­ing preva­lence of block­buster games as well as the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of mul­ti­player on­line bat­tle arena, e-sports games such as League of Leg­ends and De­fense of the An­cients 2.

Un­like some small recre­ational mo­bile games, e-sports games— which are of­ten gam­ing com­pe­ti­tions re­quir­ing team­work, strate­gies and tech­nics of us­ing key­boards— set a high­bar­for play­ers’com­put­ers.

This has been met with in­vest­ments in in­ter­net cafes and live stream­ing plat­forms ded­i­cated to broad­cast­ing e-sports com­pe­ti­tions. Many com­pa­nies, such as the sports af­fil­i­ate of Alibaba Group, jumped into the mar­ket in or­der to ride the ris­ing wave to grow their busi­ness mo­men­tum.

InJuly, AlibabaS­port­sGroup an­nounced it had part­nered with the In­ter­na­tional e-Sports Fed­er­a­tion, and pledged to spend nearly $150 mil­lion con­struct­ing e-sports sta­di­ums through­out China and will of­fer $5.5 mil­lion in prizes at its own e-sports tour­na­ments.

Now, mil­lions of Chi­nese play e-sports, mil­lions spec­tate, Chi­nese teams are mak­ing mil­lions, and Chi­nese com­pa­nies are in­vest­ing mil­lions. Sta­tis­tics from China’s Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Sport show that the coun­try’s e-sports uni­verse hit 127 mil­lion par­tic­i­pants in 2015, the world’s largest. To­gether, they cre­ated a mar­ket whose 2015 rev­enue reached 27 bil­lion yuan ($4.07 bil­lion).

Backed by the heavy in­vest­ment, the prize money at lo­cal e-sports tour­na­ments has been surg­ing, which in turn is at­tract­ing more play­ers.

“The in­creas­ing prize money at e-sports events has at­tracted many play­ers, even mid­dle school stu­dents, some of whom are se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing pro­fes­sional gam­ing as a ca­reer op­tion,” said Ken­neth Chang, the deputy sec­re­tary of the or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee of the China Uni­ver­si­ties E-sports League.

Chi­nese e-sports play­ers have been quick off the blocks in the race for all that prize money. As many as 117 pro­fes­sional gamers won about 7 per­cent of the to­tal prize pool in 2011. In 2015, the cor­re­spond­ing fig­ures were 393 Chi­nese pro­fes­sional play­ers and 22 per­cent, the high­est in the world, coun­try­wide.

In late Au­gust, at the world’s most lu­cra­tive e-sports tour­na­ment, The In­ter­na­tional, which was held in Seat­tle, Wash­ing­ton, Chi­nese team Wings Gam­ing bat­tled to the top and took home more than $9 mil­lion of the tour­na­ment’s to­tal prize of $20 mil­lion.

CHAI SHIJUE / FOR CHINA DAILY

Peo­ple play on­line games in an in­ter­net bar in Qing­dao, Shan­dong prov­ince.

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