What Does the Opening of the First eSports Gym in Japan Mean?

Could the opening of Japan’s first-ever eSports gym have a major effect on competitive gaming in the country? The news of the first dedicated space in Japan for gamers who want to improve their skills might prove to be the start of an increased profile for eSports.


The Full Details

While players can already choose this kind of eSports training option in countries like South Korea and Singapore, the new gym in Tokyo represents the first time gamers in Japan can go to a specialised space to hone their skills.

The gym will allow players to choose a three-hour slot at the time of their choosing. During this time, they can play on a PC while they get advice from professional eSports coaches. It will be open for both pros and amateur players looking to improve their abilities.

A three-hour slot is reported to cost $US13, while the coaching element is an extra with an additional cost of $25 for each hour of training received. A monthly membership has a cost of $50. Going by the name of eSports Gym, it features a lounge and a selection of gamer PCs that have been decorated with the theme of games that are popular in the country, such as League of Legends.  

The training is carried out by coaches from Crest Gaming and Glory Be eSports, with the games that they cover including Rainbow Six Siege, League of Legends and Valorant.

Will It Help Sports to Grow in Japan?

The growing importance of the eSports industry means that global revenues generated by it are expected to pass $1 billion this year. The Asian market has traditionally been the strongest on the planet, with over 50% of eSports viewers coming from this region. 

Another breakthrough could come with the 2022 Asian Games, as they will feature eSports for the first time. Competitive gaming will be a full medal event for the tournament, which is to be held in Hangzhou, China. This follows from it being used as a demonstration event at the Asian Games held in Jakarta in 2018.

Haider Farman is the OCA’s Asian Games director, and he pointed out that eSports will “add value to the Asian Games”. However, plans to get this sport added to the Olympic Games have failed to achieve any significant progress.

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Research carried out by MyVoice Communications revealed that 35% of the people surveyed in Japan knew what eSports is, while 44% had some knowledge of it. The 21% who hadn’t heard of eSports was a marked drop from the 57% who responded in this way when a similar survey was carried out in 2018.

What Other Options Do Japanese Players Have?

Traditionally, pachinko has been the most popular gaming activity in Japan. The massive popularity of the parlours where the pachinko games are housed means that it generates a huge revenue each year. However, recent years have switched to online playing, with even this classic game playable in internet versions.

The William Hill site for the Japanese market shows us how other games like roulette and blackjack are now available online. The selection of slots contains titles such as Golden Macaque and Blue Wizard that also appeal to Japanese players, as slots are often viewed as being the Western equivalent of pachinko. Still, sites such as this offer various games for players to try.

Of course, many Japanese gamers play their favourite video games online on a non-competitive basis. By far, the best-selling video game here in 2020 was Animal Crossing: New Horizons for the Nintendo Switch, followed by Ring Fit Adventure for the same device. These titles sold 6.38 and 1.59 million units, respectively.

The Japanese love of gaming has meant that many of the world’s favourite games came out of here in the last few decades, making it one of the best places to make money as a software developer. If this eSports initiative takes off, it could help the country produce some of the top competitive gamers in the years to come.

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