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The esports industry has continued to grow and that is largely due to its popularity in Asia.

A recent report from Niko Partners, an esports marketing research firm, found that Asia and MENA made up 56% of the global esports revenue last year. China alone generated $445 million of the $1.3 billion in revenue esports made in 2022.

The extensive report estimated that there were 742 million esports fans in the 10 Asian markets. This includes key markets like India, Japan, and SEA.

According to Esports Insider, Niko Partners calculated the esports market size by considering “representative elements of the esports ecosystem,” like sponsors, team franchising, merchandising, live streaming partnerships, and ticketing.

“Regulation, national excitement, and a shifting investment landscape are the factors with the largest effects on esports markets this year — which are increasingly localized in their patterns of growth,” Niko Partners wrote.

The overall interest and support from Asia has increased since 2021. At that time, Newzoo reported that Asia made up a little more than 50% of the global esports market. China, Korea, and Japan were considered the top three gaming markets at the time, followed by the United States and Germany.

This comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with the esports industry. Asian countries have been invested in gaming and gaming culture a lot more than the United States and Europe — and esports are no different. The League of Legends teams from Asian regions dominate at Worlds and South Korea is also home to many of the top Overwatch League players.

It should be noted, however, that China had a slight drop in its esports audience since 2022. This is most likely due to the country’s continued regulations on competitive gaming. Most recently, Blizzard lost the ability to have its games, including Overwatch 2, in China. This heavily impacted the Overwatch League’s ability to have Chinese teams, leading to orgs like the Chengdu Hunters to quietly disband.

And who could forget that whole Game For Peace situation, giving China a heavily censored version of PUBG that even had eliminated enemies wave goodbye instead of ragdolling? While cursed, this helped PUBG remain one of the top games in Asia, actually.

According to Niko Partners, the top esports to play and watch in Asia include:

The top mobile games include:

  • PUBG Mobile (Peacekeeper Elite)
  • League of Legends: Wild Rift
  • Mobile Legends: Bang Bang

“In 2023, Asia remains the center of growth for the global esports market, while MENA is becoming an influential global player through high-value investments and high-profile events,” said Niko Partners Director of Esports Research Alexander Champlin. “The esports fandom continues to rise across the region. Esports businesses are consolidating and focusing their efforts, while demand for esports remains strong. As a result, we expect to see moderate growth in both revenue and audience engagement this year.”

The 71-page report came together thanks to interviews with industry executives and by combing over company financial reports and streaming data. The extensive report gives a lot of insight into the state of the esports industry, especially in Asia.

While it’s no surprise that esports has continued to grow in Asian countries, the real question should be: How can NA and EU emulate the hype in Asia to continue expanding esports in other regions? It would help if they had their own Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok for starters.