- Southeast Asia witnesses rapid growth in esports, with gamers making up 82% of the region's urban online population. The global esports market reached an audience of 532 million in 2022.
- Singapore enhances its global esports standing by launching the Singapore Games Association, hosting key tournaments, and backing the sector’s significant employment potential.
- Olympic Esports Week garners criticism for its lineup, with some calling for more representation of popular video games.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the first real-world iteration of its virtual sports series. Building upon the triumph of the Olympic Virtual Series that was staged ahead of the 2021 Tokyo Summer Games, a spectacle that drew in 250,000 participants, the IOC seeks to tap into the burgeoning world of esports.
Southeast Asia emerges as one of the hottest esports markets globally, with urban online gamers accounting for a striking 82% of the region's internet population, as per the data from gaming research firm, Newzoo. Esports have been skyrocketing in popularity and profitability, with the global market amassing a worth of over $1.38 billion in 2022 and reaching a stunning audience of 532 million, according to Statista.
Singapore stands as a pioneering figure in the esports realm, having launched the Singapore Games Association to fortify the country's esports infrastructure. The Singapore Tourism Board envisions the nation as a prime destination for global esports enthusiasts. Notably, in 2022, Singapore hosted the finals of The International—one of the largest esports tournaments worldwide—and inaugurated the first independent Mobile Legends: Bang Bang professional league in 2021.
Despite the gaming industry's relatively small size locally, it exudes immense growth potential, with the International Trade Administration underlining that nearly 2,000 individuals were employed in this sector in 2021. In a notable event scheduled for October, over 3,000 gaming industry professionals will congregate in Singapore for Gamescom Asia, one of the largest tech and video game expos.
The Singaporean government is decidedly optimistic about virtual sports. Tan, in a recent interview with CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia," highlighted that the Olympic Esports Week offers an opportunity to "experiment with new ideas." However, the road to such advancements isn't devoid of criticism. Some gaming community members have expressed dissatisfaction with the competition lineup at the Olympic Esports Week, contending that it focuses excessively on physical sports simulations and disregards popular video games like Dota and Valorant.
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