The Japanese government plans an ambitious expansion of the domestic esports industry through cooperation with the private sector to help revitalize local economies and increase social participation of people with disabilities, hoping to realize annual economic benefits totaling 285 billion yen ($2.6 billion) in five years, sources close to the matter said.

While the number of players and spectators is rising in the global esports market currently estimated at 100 billion yen with the United States, China and parts of Europe seeing fast growth, the idea of competitive gaming as a sports event is catching on only slowly in Japan where titles provided for personal use on smartphones and home-use consoles of Nintendo Co. and Sony Corp. account for a dominant portion of the video game market.

(Pro esports players demonstrate their skills at a media event in a newly opened esports facility in Kobe, western Japan, on Feb. 20, 2020.)

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will work together with companies in the gaming industry and legal experts to draw up guidelines for promoting the country’s esports industry, which lacks expertise in organizing large tournaments and dealing with legal issues such as intellectual property of game developers, the sources said.

Through such collaborative efforts, the ministry expects that ticket sales to spectators of tournaments, fees for online viewing and advertising revenue, along with economic effects on local economies from hosting such events and companies supplying related equipment, would amount to at least 285 billion yen in 2025.

According to marketing research