The Olympic Committee is supposedly still deliberating on whether or not e-sports can join the Olympics in 2024. A lot of the games that would be allowed would have to be non-violent, but they’re in consideration (for better or for worse… but usually it’s for the worse if you’re a hardcore gamer). Japan realized that they weren’t getting in on the e-sports action and given the recent boom from their own consumer gaming market taking huge interest in professional gaming (both as watchers and participants) the country decided to give in and update their laws to support professional e-sports.
Esports Observer is reporting that Japan has updated the Act Against Unjustifiable Premiums and Misleading Representations, which was a law passed back in the 1980’s to curb illegal gambling controlled by the Yakuza.
After modifying the law, now large prize pools over $900 can be established for tournaments and competitions, which means that professional e-sport tournaments can offer participants enough money to make a living on.
However, due to 80% of Japan’s e-sports viewers combing on board within the last two years, according to a report by Nielsen, and the fact that the Olympic Committee wants to make gaming an actual sporting event in 2024, Japan is now quick to make things happen on a bureaucratic level. In fact, Japan has founded the JESU, the Japan E-Sports Union, as a way to help get professional e-sports players licenses to participate in tournaments. JESU’s VP, Hirokazu Hamamaura, explained…
“This is the first big step,” […] “What’s really important for the esports movement is whether our players can become stars. And I think that’s coming.”
While the FGC have been clamoring to “grow the community” and “expand” their reach, the one thing they probably didn’t expect was that it would come at a heavy cost. What that means is that while Japan may be legalizing e-sports, oftentimes this comes with a new set of rules… broadcasting rules. Some of you already know where I’m going with this.
Japan is known for having a healthy dose of sexy-time in their games. They’re not afraid to celebrate the artistic nature of feminine beauty, as evident with upcoming games like SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy. However, we’ve seen what happens when games that contain sexy females are standardized for e-sports, and what happens when those games must meet broadcasting regulations.
For instance, EVO 2016 had to ban players from picking R. Mika’s default costume in Street Fighter V. Her voluptuous thighs and ample bosom were too much for ESPN. The same thing happened in EVO 2017, where a player was banned from choosing Cammy’s default thong leotard during the ESPN broadcast of Street Fighter V, despite the fact that Cammy has been wearing that outfit since the early 1990’s.
These kind of rules and regulations could seriously affect certain games and how some developers approach making them. If Japan’s development scene receives pressure from publishers to make their games more e-sports friendly, it could then mean that the artistic direction for those games may start to veer more toward family-friendly depictions to meet e-sports broadcasting standards. Capcom attempted to do this for Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite but the game sold so poorly and was received so badly by the community it didn’t even make the cut for EVO 2018.
It will be interesting to see how Japanese studios deal with the legalization of e-sports and how much certain competitive games will be affected by this new change.