Esports have grown popular enough in China that Alisports, the unit of Alibaba that owns the World Electronic Sports Games (WESG) video game tournament, announced last month that the international competition’s finals would remain in the country for the next 10 years. Revenues from live video game competitions like WESG are expected to surge in China in the coming years, with mobile garnering a growing share.
A January 2017 report from International Data Corporation (IDC) said that mobile esports revenues in China hit RMB17.1 billion ($2.75 billion) in 2016. But compared to projected future revenues, that’s small change: IDC predicts mobile esports revenues will total RMB53.7 billion ($8.62 billion) in China by 2020, up 214% vs. 2016.
Mobile, however, is still just the little brother when it comes to esports in China. A December 2016 report, also from IDC, found that client-end gaming—which takes place via a network connection to the main game server, often on a desktop or laptop—pulled in RMB32.7 billion ($5.25 billion) in revenues in 2016. That’s nearly double mobile’s tally.
Esports are already widely recognized as a pastime in China. According to video game research firm Newzoo, internet users in China accounted for 28% of all internet users worldwide who were aware of esports in 2016—more than the share for either Europe (22%) or North America (15%).