On Wednesday, October 23, 2019, Toppan Printing, Dentsu, and Cyber Communications jointly held the " eSPORTS TRINITY " eSPORTS event. Mr. Takehisa Otani, Secretary General of Japan eSports Union ("JeSU"), explained the domestic market trend of esports and the role of JeSU at the " eSPORTS BUSINESS SEMINAR," the first part of the "eSPORTS TRINITY" e-sports event.
The business seminar was followed by a separate report on the company competition, so be sure to check it out after reading this article.
What is JeSU?
The name JeSU is often seen in the news related to esports events, but Mr. Otani, Secretary General of JeSU, explained again what its role is and what kind of activities it actually does.
As stated in the founding objectives of JeSU, the purpose of this organization is "to contribute to the development of the economy and society through the promotion of e-sports in Japan, with the aim of improving national competitiveness and spreading a sporting spirit.
In other words, the objective is to promote esports in Japan, and the organization is engaged in activities necessary to achieve this goal.
Why it is necessary for such a cross-industry organization, rather than just individual game companies, etc., to be active is discussed below.
This organization was established in January 2018 by merging the existing Japan e-Sports Association, e-sports Promotion Organization, and Japan e-Sports Federation. (CESA), and the Japan Online Gaming Association (JOGA).
Naturally, the association has a large number of members, not only game companies but also other related companies.
Mr. Otani also formerly worked in public relations for the Konami Group since 2008 and has been promoting activities as JeSU's Executive Director since April 2019.
The esports market in Japan is worth 4.83 billion yen.
The Japanese domestic market is estimated to be worth 4.83 billion yen in 2018 and is expected to grow to 9.94 billion yen by 2022.
Of this amount, sponsorship fees are by far the largest, accounting for 75.9% of the total.
Meanwhile, the global esports market is estimated to be 93.4 billion yen in 2018 and is expected to grow to 193.3 billion yen by 2022.
This means that Japan will account for just over 5% of the global market share both in 2018 and in 2022.
Although one may consider this figure large or small, the popularity of esports seems to be steadily increasing, as it was selected as one of the top 10 new words and phrases in the Nikkei MJ Hit Product Ranking in 2018 and won the Top Ten New Words and Trendy Words Award.
In fact, in the esports awareness survey, it can be said that awareness has expanded significantly, from 14.4% in September 2017 to 48.0% in January 2019.
Role of JeSU
What is JeSU's role in this growing market?
In understanding the role of JeSU, it is first necessary to provide some background on its establishment.
There were two major objectives here.
One is to enable the dispatch of Japanese athletes to official international competitions such as the Olympics and the Asian Games.
In order to send Japanese athletes to the Asian Games to be held in 2018, it was necessary to go through the Japan Olympic Committee (JOC), but to do so, Japan needed to be positioned as the "governing body in Japan.
The three aforementioned organizations merged, and the dispatch of athletes to the Asian Games was realized.
The second is the introduction of a professional license system, which will make it possible to legally and safely hold competitions with prize money.
This is to use JeSU-approved title regulations, tournament regulations, and professional license agreements as a mechanism to operate without violating the Law Against Unjustifiable Premiums and Misleading Representation and the Gambling Law, which have become hurdles in terms of prize money for esports tournaments.
In fact, in his presentation, Mr. Otani stated that "it is possible to hold tournaments with prize money without using the professional license system" in order to avoid violating the Law against Unjustifiable Premiums and Misleading Representations. In order to avoid infringement of the Gambling Law, "in tournaments that charge a participation fee, a third party may provide prize money, and prize money and operational costs may be completely separated (participation fees may not be used as prize money).
JeSU will continue to actively work on the improvement of the domestic environment, and will promote the improvement of the skills of top players and the fostering of grassroots, in addition to complying with laws and regulations as only a governing body can do.
As a specific example, he explained that in order to promote activities at schools, the governing body has contacted the schools where players are enrolled and asked them to take public holidays so that students can participate in tournaments held on weekdays.
Not all schools have accepted the request, but the governing body hopes that by taking this kind of action, awareness and understanding of esports will increase.
One of the major legal initiatives was the submission of a no-action letter (an act of checking with the supervisory authority in advance whether a certain action violates legal regulations and having the supervisory authority announce the answer) regarding prize money for esports tournaments, and the statement that "if the prize money is deemed to be compensation for work, it does not violate the Premiums and Representation Law. The answer we received was that "if the prize money is deemed to be a reward for work, it does not violate the Premiums and Representation Law.
This response clarified the position of prize money in esports tournaments.
In the rapidly growing and changing esports industry, there is definitely value that only JeSU can provide, and I hope that JeSU will not only improve the domestic market environment, but also create a stone toward building a comprehensive environment that includes domestic players in the international arena and overseas players who are active in Japan. I felt that the local chapters should also be developed.
Development of local chapters
In addition to the headquarters, JeSU has established local chapters in each prefecture for regional development.
The current number of local chapters is the 11 listed above.
- Hokkaido eSports Union
- Yamagata e-Sports Union
- Toyama e-Sports Coalition
- Ishikawa eSports Union
- Tokyo eSports Union
- Shizuoka eSports Association
- Aichi eSports Association
- Osaka eSports Association
- Hyogo eSports Union
- Okayama eSports Union
- Oita eSports Union
The local chapters that have not yet been established are still accepting applications.
The following URL is available to check the target areas for recruitment.
There was no detailed explanation of the conditions for becoming a local chapter member, but it seems that they are certified by JeSU after a strict screening process, and that not just anyone can become a local chapter member if they come forward.
The JeSU website later confirmed that the rules for local chapters are listed, so if you are interested, please check it out.
Impressions of the Business Seminar
As this site follows esports trends, there was a lot of information that was already known to us, but not much that the editorial staff wanted to know, and we felt that the Q&A session was a bit lacking.
I think the seminar was very meaningful as a business seminar for companies that are still at the stage of learning only the word "esports" and are planning to get involved in esports in the future.