Two large technology companies, Facebook and Tencent are taking varied approaches to cater to the booming demand for esports among gamers locked down by increasingly stringent regulations worldwide. While Facebook Gaming has launched a tournament for amateurs to help them beat the drudgery of being locked down, Tencent has expanded its interest in the space by paying $262.6 million in cash to Nasdaq-listed JOYY to take control of Huya, one of China’s largest game live-streaming platform operators.
Facebook Gaming was originally designed as a tool to support live gaming events and tournaments, but recently the tech giant has been working under the hood to recast the offering to meet a rather different need of helping people stay connected through game play with friends, family and communities. Facebook's move is also a plan to offer a single destination for gamers to put together their community gaming plans, with a tournament organiser allowing them to connect with and schedule games more easily. The firm had several pilots underway with colleges and the rapid onset of COVID-19 gave Facebook reason to rapidly advance its launch.
Elsewhere, Tencent is taking a more aggressive approach to its esports plans. Its recent deal allowed the company to effectively control the development, publishing and broadcasting of gaming content in China. With the deal to take control of Huya, Tencent would get a dominant stake in the Chinese market, since it already runs its main rival DouYu.
These companies join a mad rush among specialist gaming entities and broader technology companies looking to tap this esports boom. A recent Digimind study pointed to the potential for this market in Asia. According to this report, global viewership on Twitch was up 10%, YouTube Gaming by 15% and on the weekend of 22 March 2020, In addition, Steam recorded an all-time high of 22.6 million users. Once a niche online culture, esports has evolved into a global phenomenon that represents $71.4 billion in annual revenue in Asia Pacific alone.