Money no guarantee of e-sports success

Finance chief Paul Chan Mo-po has pledged HK$100 million to promote e-sports in the city. But if we are serious in making Hong Kong a regional gaming hub, a more holistic approach is needed

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 March, 2018, 4:02am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 March, 2018, 4:06am

Hub is the buzzword in Hong Kong, as reflected in our claims to be a hub in dozens of sectors. From Chinese medicine to medical tourism; from offshore Renminbi business to Islamic bonds; from innovation and technology to arts and culture; the city apparently aspires to be the hub of everything.

E-sports has been touted as the next entry. As soon as finance chief Paul Chan Mo-po announced new budgetary measures on this front, experts have swiftly talked up our potentials to become a hub for video gaming.

In response to a study by the Cyberport, a government-managed technology start-up incubator in Island South, Chan pledged HK$100 million to promote e-sports in the city.

Under the plan, the 4,000 sq ft atrium of the Cyberport complex is to be transformed into a competition venue that hosts up to 500 people. There will also be support in talent nurturing and technological development.

That e-sports has tremendous development potential is a fact beyond dispute. They will be featured in the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 and the Asian Games in Hangzhou in 2022.

Hong Kong e-sports strategy: if you build it, they will come

Our city had a taste of the fast-growing industry last August by hosting the first e-sports and music festival, attracting 60,000 local and overseas gamers and K-pop fans to watch top-rated players from around the world.

Globally, it has been estimated that the industry revenue has reached US$500 million, with the audience hitting an estimate of 600 million by 2020.

E-sports is much bigger on the mainland and in South Korea. Comparing to the 80,000-seat Beijing National Stadium where the world championship was held last year, the Cyberport venue is tiny.

There is more to the industry than just hosting competitions.

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From developing and marketing products to nurturing players and audience, there are big gaps to fill.

However ambitious and determined we are, there is a limit as to how much we can achieve. Despite years of commitment in promoting innovation and technology, our development is still at an infant stage.

Splashing money is no guarantee of success. If we are serious in making Hong Kong a regional gaming hub, a more holistic approach is needed.