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Making Hong Kong a digital entertainment hub

According to a recent report, Cyberport launched a new, retractable e-sports during the opening ceremony of its annual Digital Entertainment Leadership Forum, themed this year on digital gaming and e-sports. The opening ceremony was officiated by the Secretary for Innovation and Technology, and by Cyberport’s Chief Executive.

The HK$50 million e-sports arena, designed and built by Hong Kong-based start-ups, is capable of seating around 400 people, according to the of one of the start-ups in charge of designing the e-stadium. The start-up which specialises in building e-sports venues, including one for Melco Resorts in Macau. The arena can be deployed or retracted whenever required.

It was noted that the venue would be made available for free to tournament organisers trying to develop e-sports events.

Another HK$50 million has been earmarked by Cyberport for internships and promotional programmes aimed at Hong Kong’s nascent e-sports industry, as the 16year-old ICT development tries to help Hong Kong realise dreams of becoming an Asian e-sports hub.

The HK$100 million for e-sports development is part of the Hong Kong government’s HK$100 billion spend on innovation and technology, as pledged by Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary in the 2018-19 budget.

In 2017, when it was clear that e-sports was getting more popular and becoming an economy of its own, Cyberport was asked to create a proposal to develop the sector in Hong Kong in 2017. It was found that all other successful cities doing e-sports always started with a league to trigger the whole supply chain despite there being many different business elements.

In 2017, the Hong Kong Tourism Board debuted an e-sports and music festival at a cost of HK$35 million, with the aim of redressing Hong Kong’s status as a laggard in the sector in Asia. The Cyberport study, initiated two years ago, found that at least 300,000 Hongkongers were playing e-sports, yet the first team had only been formed in 2013.

The report concluded that developing e-sports was a good way to develop the overall technology, media and telecoms industries. Ann Hand, chief executive of US-based e-sports company Super League, noted that more than 100 US universities offer e-sports scholarships as a way of attracting young people with computer skills.

The Hong Kong report noted that 93 per cent of Hong Kong players were male and 55 per cent were between 18 and 21.

A 2018 Legco report on e-sports noted that an online survey showed about 10 per cent of Hong Kong’s young people between 15 and 29 were interested in a career in e-sports.

Cyberport and HKU Space now jointly offer the Diploma in e-Sports Science programme so as to develop a talent pool for the e-sports industry. It is the first e-sports course in Hong Kong. The part-time course commenced in July last year and is expected to admit 50 students in each programme period.

Moreover, an e-sports internship programme was also launched by Cyberport. The programme provides e-sports companies HK$7,500 per month for up to a year to employ young people in e-sports industries.

A Hong Kong e-sports start-up is applying blockchain technology to an e-sports platform. It recently signed Formula 1 racing as a partner and is launching the game in March 2020, the start-up’s business development manager. It was noted that the company is expanding rapidly and looking for designers and programmers.

It is estimated that Cyberport currently has about 100 e-sports companies in its various programmes, or as alumni; it currently has more than 600 companies either in its start-up programmes or in its office space, with another 700 connected as alumni or partners.

Another report has projected that China’s e-sports revenue would grow at 21 per cent CAGR, as a result of large audiences and the ability to hold large e-sports events, with sponsorships being the main revenue source.

It is also expected that global e-sports audiences will rise from 454 million in 2019 to over 640 million by 2022.

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