A shot of Dota 2, one of the most popular esports titles in China

China Has More Esports Fans Than The US Has People

July 18, 2022

By: Joseph Allen

 
 

The Chinese gaming industry is huge, but it can sometimes be hard to comprehend just how huge. A new report shows that the number of Chinese esports fans has surpassed the entire US population, and the report contains a number of other interesting Chinese esports tidbits as well.

What does this new report tell us about the Chinese esports industry?

This report comes to us from the ever-reliable Daniel Ahmad and the folks over at Niko Partners. As pointed out by Ahmad, China is the largest single-country esports market in the world, with 434 million esports fans (more than the total population of the US and the UK combined) and $400 million in revenue last year. This, according to Ahmad and Niko Partners, makes China a remarkable 36% of the worldwide esports economy, which is currently worth around $1.1 billion. The good times might not last forever, though. Ahmad and Niko Partners predict that the Chinese esports economy will "begin to slow" as the market reaches saturation.

 

Graphs and statistics showing the state of the Chinese esports industry
Daniel Ahmad and Niko Partners' research shows the Chinese esports industry is thriving.

Ahmad says the Chinese esports industry grew 14% last year "despite a tough regulatory environment". He's likely referring to both the Chinese gaming industry as a whole, which is certainly restrictive, as well as restrictions placed on watching streaming content and using social media. According to Ahmad and Niko Partners, esports gamers in China spend 2.4 times as much on gaming as those who aren't esports players, and almost 95% of the overall Chinese gaming population are interested in playing esports games (although only 25% actually want to be professionals). 

The report also found that there's a fairly big problem with esports gaming and gender in China. According to the report, 79% of Chinese gamers who had competed in esports on any level were male in 2021. Esports participation and viewership are both increasing among women, but Ahmad says there are "still many barriers" for women who want to participate in esports. An earlier Niko Partners report stated that around 48% of gamers in China are women, so there's clearly a long way to go in terms of gender and esports in China.

 
 

Esports is serious business around the world

The Niko Partners report further demonstrates that the world of esports is getting bigger and bigger. The 2022 Commonwealth Games, which begin on July 28th in Birmingham in the UK, will host an esports event for the first time in the Games' history. While esports isn't officially part of the Olympics, the IOC has held Olympics-licensed esports events in the past. Other major companies like Nintendo have also created major esports initiatives, and with the global esports economy projected to grow in the next few years, it's easy to see why.

A crowd gathered to watch an esports event
The Commonwealth Games is set to host an esports event for the first time in its history.

Beijing knows the importance of esports to the Chinese economy. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the Chinese government announced it would offer aid to the esports industry, and Beijing has previously expressed an interest in becoming the "gaming capital" of the world by 2035. However, it's fair to say that the esports industry in China has a lot of challenges to navigate thanks to a difficult regulatory environment and close governmental scrutiny on the gaming industry as a whole. We'll bring you more on this as we get it.