Tencent is creating an entire town dedicated to esports
Tencent, China’s largest online games developer among other things, is building an entire town dedicated to esports.
The town will be located in Wuhu, east China, where Tencent has just signed a framework agreement with the local government.
The planned esports town will have an esports theme park, esports university, cultural and creative park, animation industrial park, a creative neighbourhood, a Tencent technology entrepreneurship community, and even a Tencent cloud data center.
Tencent — better known for its messaging services WeChat and QQ — will also bring QQJOY (a convention for QQ’s mobile games) and QGC (a mobile gaming competition) to Wuhu, according to a statement from local authorities. City officials added that Tencent has also signed an agreement to hold this year’s QGC finals in Wuhu.
Wuhu isn’t the only city Tencent is investing in. The company is also planning to build a theme park in Chengdu built around the Chinese mobile fantasy role-playing game Honor of Kings, which reached 50 million users in January this year.
It shows the lengths Tencent is willing to go to ensure it’s at the forefront of China’s esports industry. Over 47% of Tencent’s 2016 revenue came from games, with Tencent’s gaming unit posting revenues of nearly 70.84 billion yuan ($10.2 billion) last year, dwarfing that of rival NetEase, which posted revenues of 28 billion yuan ($4 billion).
That revenue stems from the sheer size of the video game market in China — nearly 500 million people in China play video games, and about 145 million of them play more than an hour per day, according to a 2014 estimate by Eedar, a market research firm.
The fact that Tencent is raking in cash from esports isn’t lost on local governments either. City and county officials are increasingly seeking the esports dollar to stimulate the local economy and drive tourism.
Taicang, a city in Suzhou, east China, announced a planned 3.55 sq km (1.37 sq mi) esports town in April, which would encompass a combined space for esports cultural displays, “experience zones” for games by Taicang’s lake, and an esports industrial park.
The effort mirrors that of Zhongxian county in Chongqing, southwest China, which pledged to inject 4 billion yuan ($580 million) over three years into its esports industrial park in April.