China Esports Blast: February 2023

Each month, sports digital agency Mailman shares the biggest industry news and insights from China’s esports scene, along with analysis on why it matters.

China Esports Blast February 2023
Image credit: Esports Insider

February 2023 saw several key developments in China’s gaming and esports industry, including a $265m cash investment from the Saudi government’s Public Investment Fund and an annual esports financial report revealed by the Chinese government.

Moreover, a popular Chinese League of Legends team secured a partnership with a special local Chinese brand.

VSPO raises $265m Series C investment from Savvy Games Group

Chinese esports production company VSPO, formerly VSPN, announced that the company has raised a $265m (~£221.6m) Series C investment from Savvy Games Group (SGG).

SGG, a company backed by Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), notably also owns ESL FACEIT Group (EFG). The investment, which was in all cash, now sees Savvy Games Group become the biggest overseas shareholder of VSPO. 

It’s one of the biggest investments in esports history, and VSPO has proven that esports in 2023 is still worth investing in. It’s also a milestone for Saudi Arabia’s ambitions to become a global hub for gaming and esports, from underdog to esports leader.

As the biggest esports production company in China, VSPO will bring key experiences in hosting mobile tournaments like King Pro League (KPL) and Peace Elite League (PEL) to the Saudi region. Expect to see a number of esports events to be held in the region and a closer connection between China and Saudi Arabia as a result.

Image credit: VSPO

China reports £17.5bn in esports revenue in 2022

During the 2022 China Esports Annual Conference in Shenzhen, the Esports Committee of China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association (CADPA) announced that the China esports industry generated revenues of ¥144.5bn (~£17.5bn) in 2022.

This actually marked a decrease of 14.01% year over year compared to 2021. The revenue was 81.52% in esports games revenue, with the remaining revenue of £3.22bn in live streaming, esports tournament and organisations. In addition, the committee pointed out that China has 488m esports-related users with 56.4% male and 43.6% female.

There is no doubt that China’s esports revenue could reach £17.5bn by counting games revenue in the matrix. It’s still controversial to define which game should belong to an ‘esports title’, as China is the biggest mobile games market in the world, and Chinese game publishers Tencent, NetEase and ByteDance own most top mobile games, such as Honor of Kings, PUBG Mobile, Mobile Legends, and Identity V.

Though there was a decrease in China esports last year due to the pandemic, the country has reopened. There has been a decent recovery in the esports industry, so expect to see a significant revenue increase in 2023.

China Esports Revenue
Image credit: Mailman

Chinese Snack Mala Wangzi Sponsors Invictus Gaming

Chinese esports organisation Invictus Gaming (IG) has announced a sponsorship deal with Chinese snack brand Mala Wangzi.

As a result, Mala Wangzi’s logo will be featured on IG’s team jerseys alongside German optics brand Carl Zeiss during the League of Legends Pro League (LPL).

The snack is widely called spicy gluten (a.k.a La Tiao), which is a unique Chinese food and has recently become popular in the West. In China, it had over £5.5bn in market size and continually grew yearly. ‘Snack X Teams’ is a classic partnership combination in esports, however, its exciting to see more potential collaborations between esports and unique Chinese snacks.

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Mailman is a leading sports digital agency in China. It helps sports organisations & brands build sustainable businesses in China, one of the world’s most challenging markets. Mailman is an Endeavor China company.

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