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eSports explodes: China vs the U.S.

The global esports economy will reach nearly $1 billion in 2018, according to NewZoo, a market intelligence and research firm that focuses on gaming, with a lot of that growth coming from two distinct areas: the U.S. and China.

Data: Newzoo 2018 Global Esports Market Report; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

Esports has become a massive business in the U.S., and is expected to nearly double in U.S. revenue by 2021, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

  • Popularity has exploded in the States, in large part due to live streaming platforms, like Twitch, as well as YouTube, that can connect gamers instantly.

In China, more sophisticated technologies and culture trends around esports have helped bolster their market.

"Gaming in China is a micro economy around franchises, regardless of where game stems from ... We’ve made leagues out of esports franchises, even reality shows ... The hardcore user in the US is the mild user in China."
— Humphrey Ho, managing partner at Hylink, China's largest independent digital advertising agency

Ho sites several major factors to the rising esports time spentin China, including the culture of loneliness and long commutes in China that drive people to spend more time on gaming, and specifically, mobile gaming.

  • Big Tech, like Tencent and Alibaba, also provide more sophisticated gaming experiences for users, because they are able to use cross-platform promotions and social engagement (ie - talk with friends about games on WeChat while playing them), to follow a gamers' tracks throughout the day.

For kicks: Booming eSports market opens window into Chinese culture.

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