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Last week’s incredibly high temperatures couldn’t stop players and fans from coming out to the China Digital Entertainment Expo and Conference (known as ChinaJoy). While game publishers showcased their latest wares, multiple esports business developments were also announced in the event’s host city of Shanghai.
Among the top stories: the Shanghai government has unveiled regulations and standards for esports venues; NetEase plans to invest over ¥5B RMB ($710M USD) to build an “esports park” in Shanghai, Tencent announced an auto battler mode for Honor of Kings; and the marketing campaign for Dota 2’s The International hits the streets of Shanghai (and the airways above).
Every week The Esports Observer presents the biggest esports business news in China, including investments, acquisitions, sponsorships, and other major news from the region.
ChinaJoy Recap: Shanghai Unveils Multiple Developments in Esports
On August 3, multiple sectors of the Shanghai government held a global esports conference within the Chinese city. Multiple executives and leaders attended including major Chinese and Western game publishers Tencent, Riot Games, Perfect World, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts, and NetEase, as well as high-ranking Shanghai politicians. The conference was a part of the China Digital Entertainment Expo and Conference (ChinaJoy) from August 2-5.
At the conference, multiple projects and developments were officially unveiled, all geared towards building up Shanghai into a global esports center. One of the major announcements was that Shanghai would introduce two standards for esports venues, known as the “Esports Venue Building Standards” and “Esports Venue Operations and Services Standards.”
The building standards will normalize the basic equipment set-up requirements for esports venues, such as internet, lighting, electrical, and staging. In addition, it classified the esports venue into four categories, from class A to D. For example, class-A esports venues—used for the highest international esports tournaments—need to be a minimum of 50K square meters, and 5,000 seats. The rest, classes B to D, need to be a minimum of 20K, 10K, and 500 square meters, respectively.
After this announcement, Ding Yingfeng, the president of game publisher NetEase, announced that the company plans to invest over ¥5B RMB ($710M USD) to build a “NetEase Esports Park” in the Shanghai Qingpu District. In addition, a class-A esports dedicated venue will be built in the park. This could potentially become the home venue for NetEase’s own Overwatch League team the Shanghai Dragons.
The Shanghai Pudong District also unveiled that it will bring in ¥5B ($710M) from the central government to directly support gaming and esports in the region. In addition, it released a set of policies for supporting esports-related companies registered in the district. According to the announcement, these will include:
- Providing a maximum of ¥10M ($1.42M) for relevant companies to build esports venues.
- Providing a maximum of ¥5M ($710K) for esports companies, if said companies are successfully listed on the main board, or the science and technology innovation board, of the Shanghai stock exchange.
- Providing a maximum of ¥3M ($430K) allowance for tournament organizers, if the company has hosted top tier international tournaments in the past.
- Providing a maximum of ¥2M ($280K) allowance for esports teams, if the team has performed well at top tier international tournaments.
- Providing educational programs and accommodations for registered esports athletes.
At the end of the conference, the Shanghai government announced that the 2019 Shanghai Esports Masters will be held at the end of November of this year. The tournament will be a multi-game, third-party tournament. More details of this tournament series were not revealed at the time of writing.
Tencent Adds Auto-Battler Mode in Honor of Kings
On August 2, a custom game mode was added to the design system in Honor of Kings. The design system, known as Tiangong (Chinese term 天工), in Honor of Kings is similar to those used by amateur developers in Dota 2 and Warcraft III to create custom game modes.
Tencent first released the official auto battler game mode, called “Kings Simulation Battle” (Chinese term: 王者模拟战), under the Tiangong system. This auto battler game will be officially listed at the end of August. Due to the fact that Honor of Kings is a mobile game, it is likely the custom game mode will only be playable on mobile devices.
It is worth noting that Tencent has already released its own standalone auto battler mobile game called Chess Rush. Put in a broader context, the original Auto Chess will also be exclusively distributed in mainland China by Tencent Games, and Teamfight Tactics developer Riot Games is entirely owned by Tencent. In the massive, growing market of auto battler products, Dota Underlords is the only game not tied to Tencent. Whichever amongst these games takes the largest share of the market, Tencent will likely remain the overall winner.
Other Esports Business News
- On August 3, Dota 2’s The International Shanghai was advertised in Shanghai Century Avenue underground. In addition, the previous tournament matches of The International were available to watch on China Air flights.
- On August 1, Russian esports organization Virtus.pro created its own Chinese social media Weibo account. The account will post team and player news for Chinese fans.
- In order to better prepare for the upcoming edition of The International, multiple international teams have already landed in Shanghai, and are currently practicing at the headquarters of various Chinese teams. For example, European team Chaos Esports Club is practicing at Newbee’s training house, while European team Ninjas in Pyjamas (NIP) will scrim at Bilibili Gaming’s (BLG) headquarters. While most publishers run tournaments typically provide bootcamping space for foreign teams, Valve’s lack of such facilities has created a significant business opportunity for Chinese esports organizations.
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