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Hangzhou’s new funding programme for video gaming, esports and related industries reflects the city’s extensive preparations ahead of hosting the Asian Games in 2023. Illustration: Shutterstock

Tech hub Hangzhou pledges millions in annual subsidy for video gaming, esports amid signs of a thaw in China’s crackdown

  • Hangzhou, capital of eastern Zhejiang province, has pledged 100 million yuan in annual funding to support video gaming and esports
  • The new programme reflects the city’s extensive preparations ahead of hosting next year’s Asian Games, where esports will be a medal event
Video gaming
Hangzhou, capital of eastern Zhejiang province and one of China’s hubs for technology start-ups, has pledged 100 million yuan (US$14 million) in annual funding to support video gaming and esports, as recent signs point toward a thaw in the central government’s crackdown on these industries.
The plan was announced by Hangzhou’s municipal government in the same week the country’s semi-official gaming industry association declared that the video game addiction problem of minors was “basically solved”.

“[We should] dig deep into the comprehensive value of games, culture, technology and innovation, and further create a good ecosystem for the gaming industry,” said a Hangzhou official quoted by local media on Thursday.

As part of the plan, a number of major academic institutions in the city – including Zhejiang University, China Academy of Art and Zhejiang Media Institute – will establish degrees for students to major in video game animation and esports, helping train new artists and developers.

A bird’s-eye view of the skyline of Hangzhou, capital of eastern Zhejiang province. Photo: Shutterstock
The Hangzhou government said it will also “strengthen the regulation and positive guidance” on the video gaming industry, echoing the central government’s stance on keeping a tight grip on online content and restricting playing time of gamers aged under 18.
The new annual funding programme for video game animation, esports and related industries reflects the city’s extensive preparations ahead of hosting the 2022 Asian Games, which will take place from September 23 to October 8, 2023.
The 19th edition of the Games, which was to be held in September this year, was moved to another date amid concerns over the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 in China. Hangzhou will be the third Chinese city to host the Games, after Beijing in 1990 and Guangzhou in 2010.

Without elaborating, Hangzhou said its plan calls on various government bodies in the city to help create a “positive atmosphere of public opinion” during the Games.

Video game addiction among minors in China ‘basically solved’, report says

Esports will make its debut as an official medal event at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, following its inclusion as demonstration sport at the 2018 Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Six personal computer games and two mobile games will offer medals at the Games. These include: Arena of Valor and PUBG Mobile by Tencent Holdings, Dream Three Kingdoms 2 by Hangzhou Electronic Soul Network Technology Co, Street Fighter V from Japanese publisher Capcom, Riot Games’ League of Legends, Dota 2 from Valve Corp, Electronic Arts’ FIFA 23 and Hearthstone from Blizzard Entertainment.
As a medal event at the Games in Hangzhou, esports could give fans in China another opportunity to cheer their team to victory. China recently failed to reach the finals of the League of Legends World Championship, the esports industry’s biggest tournament, for the first time since 2018.

China grants new video game licences to Tencent and NetEase in November

Before the release of the report that declared an initial victory against video game addiction, signs of a thaw in China’s crackdown on the industry emerged when regulator the National Press and Publication Administration granted licences to 70 new titles. That was the second highest number in 2022 behind the 73 issued in September. No new licences were granted in October.

Earlier this month, the People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece, published an opinion article that described video games as an industry of “great significance to the country’s industrial layout and technological innovation”.
Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen have earlier unveiled similar plans to boost their esports markets. Shenzhen, for example, promised up to 2 million yuan in cash rewards for esports games developed and launched in the southern tech hub.