New World plans to promote live watching of e-sports, with seven stadiums in China
New World Development (NWD), the Hong Kong conglomerate, has teamed up with Asia’s leading mobile e-sports brand Hero Entertainment to build a network of e-sports stadiums in its K11 malls in cities across China, aiming to offer a “game-changing” retail experience targeted squarely at millennials and young online games fans.
K11s will also host Hero Entertainment’s Hero Pro League, one of Asia’s largest mobile e-sports leagues, and other animation, comic, game and novel (ACGN) franchises, to its projects in at least nine cities: Hong Kong, Beijing, Shenzhen, Shenyang, Wuhan, Ningbo, Tianjin, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
The plan is part of a 10-year strategic alliance formed between K11 and the Beijing-based Hero Entertainment on Friday, which will see the retail brand becoming the exclusive industry partner of Hero Entertainment, the second largest mobile e-sports operator in China with over 400 million registered users.
“The booming e-sports sector is fast becoming the next big growth market, a cultural event popular among the new generation,” said Adrian Cheng, founder of K11, adding it will create a unique ecosystem that combines art, technology and commerce, while continuing its effort in innovating and promoting cross-cultural exchanges in its physical and online spaces.
Under the agreement the nine-site network will become what is claimed to be the world’s largest network of 2D e-sports-themed spaces.
Among them, K11 Hong Kong will be made into the leading mobile gaming venue to not only offer pop-up VR experiences but also be able to host to large-scale, international e -sports competitions.
Now officially being recognised as a type of new sport by the Chinese government, e-sports, or competitive gaming, has been added as a medal event in the 2022 Asian Games.
Revenue from the global e-sports market is forecast to jump 41 per cent year on year to US$696 million this year, with China the world’s second largest market after the US, taking 15 per cent of the global market, according to gaming industry research service Newzoo.
Around half of the world’s 385 million e-sports viewers are aged between 21 and 35, making it a bridge for big brands to reach the tech-savvy demographic.
Hong Kong is also hoping to tap into the business potential of e-sports. The city’s tourism board organised its first e-sports and music festival in early August, which attracted some 50,000 gamers and K-pop fans.