In Japan, console and cross-platform games sit side-by-side with mobile in top esports teams, marking a major indication of mobile’s newfound competitive popularity.
Japan has long been hailed as the home of modern video gaming. Playing host to companies such as Nintendo and Sony that together dominated generations of home consoles for players. Although Japan may not be the biggest player in games anymore, it’s still home to a newly thriving esports scene.
Niko Partners’ latest report on the Japanese esports scene focuses on five teams: Crazy Raccoon, DetonatioN FocusMe, FENNEL, SCARZ and ZETA DIVISION. All five have different stories and sizes, but all five aren’t just playing the games you might expect like Valorant and PUBG…but major mobile titles as well.
Fortnite was naturally the most popular game featured, with three out of four teams playing it. Clash Royale and Brawl Stars also made appearances, as well as the ever-popular-in-Asia PUBG Mobile. Knives Out, Netease’s battle-royale game was also the primary cause for FENNEL’s inception.
Ones to watch
So what’s particularly interesting about the Japanese esports scene? Niko Partners’ report indicates that in the wake of a significant loosening of regulations back in 2019, that the Japanese esports scene began to increase in popularity massively. The scene is now at the point where, for the first time, many esports teams are able to be financially sound.
“Historically, Japan's top esports teams and players have struggled to exist solely on their esports income. In recent years, however, esports teams have been raising funds and participating in major capital events one after another, and investment in esports teams is increasing.”
Japan's lead may offer a glimpse into how teams from other countries such as India and China may come to function, with mobile sat alongside console and PC in esports. We’ve already seen companies such as Riot Games take a firmer hand in managing their brands and assuming direct control in areas like South-East Asia where the goal of establishing massive esports followings in order to support games is becoming increasingly important.