Yahoo Esports Signs Off
Yahoo! Esports shut its doors this past Friday after launching to great fanfare in March of last year as one of a new breed of esports media sites featuring endemic esports content expertise backed by the financial muscle of large, non-endemic media companies.
Yahoo Esports’ shuttering was a result of their their acquisition by Verizon rather than a result of their performance from a revenue or growth perspective, which makes it perilous to draw overbroad conclusions about the health of esports media from Yahoo’s move. That said, the financial landscape for esports media sites in general remains difficult, particularly with challenges such as high Adblock rates among esports fans and a global audience, the majority of whom are often not US-based.
Under the guidance of head of esports media Travis Gafford, Yahoo! Esports pulled together an all-star team of some of esports’ brightest established and up and coming content creators across multiple titles including CS:GO, SSBM, and League of Legends. Yahoo! was also taking risks and putting on well-regarded events such as their Rivalries series featuring crew battles in Super Smash Bros Melee and showdowns between collegiate League of Legends teams in uLoL.
Yahoo! Esport’s closing has resulted in a sudden, massive infusion of talented esports content creators and media leaders into the free market, and we have already seen media companies, streaming platforms, and esports teams scramble to capitalize. Though the site has shut down, there’s little doubt that its alumni will remain tastemakers and leaders in the space for a long time to come.
Tencent Plans to Build First Esports Amusement Park
Tencent announced plans to build a “gaming city” in cooperation with the city of Wuhu, China. Tencent’s mini-city would include an esports theme park, an esports university, a cultural and creative park, an animation industrial park, a creative block, a tech entrepreneurial community, and a cloud data center.
The details about the project remain sparse. While Tencent seems committed to making this fantasy land a reality, the company has yet to release a timeframe for the project.
Tencent’s grand plans for the esports industry are sure to grow the global fan base and strengthen engagement across all titles involved. The IP controlled and associated with Tencent rivals that of Disney, which has theme parks in six cities across the world. An attraction of this size that would span several publishers and game genres would present options for all gaming enthusiasts.
In The Meta Report, we talk a lot about how the esports industry is influenced by the sports industry in various aspects of the business. However, here we see the general gaming industry taking a page from the leisure and entertainment industries on fan engagement. Disneyland had 16.2mm visitors in 2013. We know there is well over 100mm registered League of Legends users worldwide and likely hundreds of millions more that play other Tencent owned games.
While being located in Wuhu, China may make it difficult for Western esports and gaming enthusiasts to visit regularly, this is an attraction that will certainly grow with time. Given the success of Disneyland, it wouldn’t be surprising to see additional “Tencentlands” pop up across the world in due time.
Tencent Announces Plan to Grow Esports in China
Last Friday, Tencent announced a five-year plan to create a 100 billion Yuan (15 billion USD) esports industry in China. The investment would involve expansions including new leagues, tournaments, and associations for the various games under its umbrella. The news follows up on their aforementioned announcement of an esports-themed industrial park to be constructed in Wuhu.
In addition, Tencent confirmed that Chinese Authorities would be consulted heavily to establish unified standards for esports in the country.
15 billion dollars. Yes, you read that figure right. It is no secret that the Chinese Internet giant has essentially limitless capital to play with, but a financial commitment of this magnitude is eye opening regardless of circumstance.
While the proposed investment is certainly the largest figure to be attached to esports thus far, it could be argued that Tencent stands to benefit more than almost anyone else from a growth in esports. It is currently the world’s largest mobile game developer, purchasing Clash of Clans developer Supercell in 2016, and serves as the parent company to Riots Games, who developed the world’s most popular esport, League of Legends. Tencent is well positioned to take full advantage of the expected growth in worldwide esports popularity; however, they seem fully focused on capitalizing specifically on China’s relatively small, yet rapidly growing esports market.
According to research by the International Data Corporation, China’s total revenue from the esports industry has grown 52% year-on-year to $7.3 billion. Despite the massive growth, China only accounted for roughly 8% of worldwide esports events in 2016 according to a study done by Newzoo. In addition, no Chinese League of Legends team has advanced past the Quarterfinals at the World Championships since 2014. By providing the necessary infrastructure and capital, Tencent will look to bridge the gap between the increasing demand and underwhelming supply of local tournaments and talent.
Being that China has the world’s largest population and sits in the center of the esports crazed Asian region, it’s highly logical that the country also becomes a world leader in both esports events and fandom. Tencent realizing this potential and completely committing to growing the landscape is a win not just for China, but for the ecosystem as a whole. The relationship across esports between games and genres seems to be quite symbiotic; as one grows it brings in a new wave of fans for others to benefit from. This should inevitably be the case as a more enthused Chinese fan base would grow the pot significantly for everyone.