Credit: Invictus Gaming/ELLE MEN
Last week saw a number of interesting developments in China’s gaming and esports industry, including a new game platform operated in China, an esports organization and a game publisher partnered with clothing brands, and a government-pleasing copy of one of the world’s most popular mobile games released in the country.
Among the top stories: Invictus Gaming partnered with Chinese clothing brand Lilbetter and fashion magazine ELLE MEN; publisher Epic Games opened a Chinese branch of its online games marketplace; Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo partnered with Blizzard Entertainment; and Tencent took PUBG Mobile off the market and replaced it with a government-compliant version of its own called Game for Peace.
Every week The Esports Observer presents the biggest esports business news in China, including investments, acquisitions, sponsorships, and other major news from the region.
Invictus Gaming Partners with Chinese Clothing Brand Lilbetter
Credit: Invictus Gaming
On May 8, esports organization Invictus Gaming (IG) announced a partnership with Chinese clothing brand Lilbetter. The two will co-produce a summer apparel line, with pre-orders to start soon.
According to the announcement, the apparel line includes an IG-branded League of Legends Pro League (LPL) Spring Season commemorative t-shirt, a new 2019 IG team t-shirt, and an exclusive women’s version of the 2019 IG team t-shirt.
The LPL Spring Season commemorative t-shirt is to celebrate IG’s victory during the Champion of LPL Spring Season. The design features the LPL Spring Season trophy, with the IG logo and the English word “Champion.” IG claimed that it worked with TJ Sports to both add and re-design the trophy image. It should be noted that IG also used the artwork of one of its Weibo fans—@feveru—for designing the t-shirt. This is also the first time that IG partnered with a fan to design one of its products, and he will receive payment for his contribution, according to the organization.
In addition, for the new 2019 IG team t-shirt, IG claims that all IG players will wear the t-shirt to attend offline tournaments, except for any event run by TJ Sports. This is because on Feb. 28 Nike signed a four-year exclusive apparel sponsorship deal with TJ Sports for China’s LPL.
Epic Games Opens Its Online Marketplace in China
Credit: Epic Games
On May 14, Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite, opened its Epic Games Store in China. Customers can purchase games using two of China’s largest online payment methods – AliPay and WeChatPay. It should be noted that game prices in the Chinese version of the Epic Games Store are comparatively cheaper than the company’s western storefront. For example, Borderlands 3 is $59.99 USD in the western store and $29.99 in China. The game currency in the China store is still set to USD, but AliPay and WeChatPay can automatically convert it to Chinese Yuan.
On Nov. 30, 2018, it was reported that Valve’s digital distribution platform Steam would launch in China as “Steam China,” thanks to a deal signed by the Shanghai government and Perfect World, Valve’s exclusive game distributor in the region. At the time of writing, there has been no more information released about the launch of Steam China.
While Valve has a longstanding business relationship with Perfect World, Epic Games also has strong business ties with Tencent Holdings. Tencent holds a 40% stake in Epic Games, and is the exclusive distributor of Fortnite for the Chinese market.
Other Esports Business News
Credit: Invictus Gaming
- On May 8, esports organization Invictus Gaming partnered with fashion magazine ELLE MEN. ELLE MEN held a photo shoot featuring five IG League of Legends professional players, which were later featured in the Chinese edition of ELLE MEN magazine.
- On May 7 Tencent Games shut down PUBG Mobile and released a new game called Game for Peace, which has received approval by the Chinese government. It should be noted that. in terms of game mechanics, maps, and even the logo, the game is extremely similar to PUBG Mobile; however, the violence and combat themes have been heavily toned down.
- On May 13, PC brand HP created a commercial with esports organization Royal Never Give-Up (RNG). In this advertisement, RNG League of Legends players promoted HP’s new product launch event, which took place on May 14. HP is one of the sponsors of RNG.
- On May 13, the Chinese streaming platform-focused data company Xiaohulu announced its Chinese streaming platform April report. According to the report, Huya received ¥606M ($88M) in revenue from user donations, and Douyu received ¥500M ($72.7M) during the month. In addition, Dota Auto Chess/Auto Chess became the most popular new game for streaming in April.
- On May 7, North American esports organization Team SoloMid opened its official Weibo. According to the announcement, this operation is to better engage Chinese fans, and will also produce exclusive benefits for TSM fans on Weibo.
- On May 15, esports organization TOPSPORTS Gaming (TOP) announced it has rebranded. The company changed its name to TOP ESPORTS (TES) and revised its team logo. TES competes in League of Legends and owns a regular spot in the LPL.