Tencent, the Chinese mobile game and app developer (known best outside of gaming circles for WeChat), is looking to further invest in esports by building an entire town dedicated to the activity. The town will be located in the prefecture-level city of Wuhu and will feature a theme park, cultural center, and even an esports university, according to Mashable.
Investing in esports infrastructure seems to a win-win-win for Tencent, gamers, and even Chinese city governments who are eager to grab their piece of the gaming revenue pie. Wuhu officials are hoping the esports town will draw in tourists. China is no stranger to the spoils of esport victory — the country takes home more prize money than any other, even as the U.S. is able to field more teams and players. Chinese players have won $18 million just from Dota 2, the highest paying game in esports.
Tencent’s reasons for wanting to expand are obvious. It is already the largest online game developer in China — its games division brought in a sizable $10 billion in 2016, which accounted for just under half the company’s total revenue. That is thanks in part to China’s huge population, of which some 500 million members play video games — 145 million for over an hour a day.
Tencent will also bring it’s QQJOY mobile gaming convention and QGC mobile gaming competition to Wuhu.
While the idea of an esports town sounds novel and surprising here in the States, Tencent’s move into Wuhu is just the latest in a growing number of similar investments in China. The city of Taicang recently announced plans to build a 3.55 square kilometer esports town, complete with another cultural center, and Zhongxian county has pledged $580 million dollars over the next three years to support development of its own esports industrial park.
As for Tencent’s town itself, details are still emerging. I’m not sure what an esports university would entail, but I sure hope it’s better than Video Game High School.
Also published on Medium.