Pixel P&L: The Global Race to Build Esports Cities

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It’s Friday, June 14. In today’s edition, we delve into the rising phenomenon of "esports cities" and examine why countries are racing to build these gaming hubs. Additionally, we cover Steam’s explosive growth in India, Valve’s $817 million lawsuit, and more.

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The Race to Become the Next Esports City

The term "Esports City" is buzzing around the globe, with dozens of cities vying to wear this crown. But what makes an esports city, and why the frenzy? Beyond the dollar signs, cities are scrambling to become cultural and tech hotspots, nurturing a community where esports can explode.

We explore the phenomenon of esports cities, examining what it means to hold this title and why cities are eager to claim it. Our research indicates that the financial benefits of being an esports city are significant, but there’s more. Los Angeles, Seoul, and Katowice have already carved out their niches as premier esports hubs, blending infrastructure, investment, and community support to foster thriving esports ecosystems.

But can other cities replicate this magic? Places like Qiddiya in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi's Esports Island are betting big. Will they succeed or fall flat? Michael takes a deep dive into this phenomenon and uncovers the secrets behind the world’s top esports cities and the heated race to join their ranks.

Steam Sees Explosive Growth in India in Last Five Years

Steam, the world’s leading digital distribution platform for video games, has experienced remarkable growth in its user base, particularly in India. Over the last five years, Steam's user base in India has surged by over 150%, according to data shared by Gerber at the Nordic Game 2024 conference, courtesy of GameDiscoverCo. This growth mirrors similar trends in other regions, including Japan and Mexico, where Steam has also seen substantial increases.

“Part of our mission on Steam is to reach gamers around the world,” Gerber stated. “We invest a lot in making sure we price in the right currencies, accept the right payment methods, and connect our servers close to our customers.” This strategic approach has evidently paid off, as the platform now supports 29 languages and continues to expand.

In our recent dive into the rising phenomenon of Indian custom gaming PCs, we discovered that Indian gamers are increasingly looking to invest in quality systems for their gaming needs. Notably, 40% of respondents indicated a willingness to pay over INR 1 lakh for their gaming PCs. The rise of Steam underscores the growing demand for PC gaming among Indian gamers, reflecting a broader trend towards higher engagement and investment in gaming infrastructure.

Crunchyroll Launches Extensive Promotion for Kaiju No. 8 in India

Crunchyroll is making a significant push to promote its latest anime, Kaiju No. 8, across major Indian cities, IGN India reports. The anime streamer has deployed full wraps on trains, buses, and advertisements at bus stops, stations, and malls in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Chennai. The series, which premiered on March 27, was live-streamed in India simultaneously with its broadcast in Japan. Crunchyroll currently offers English, Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu dubs of the show, available as soon as the English-subbed version is released.

Esports World Cup Adds Call of Duty Titles

The Esports World Cup (EWC) has announced the addition of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 and Call of Duty Warzone to its tournament lineup, bringing the total number of games to 21. The Warzone tournament will feature a $1 million prize pool, while the MW3 tournament will offer $1.8 million. Set to commence soon in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the EWC is now the largest-ever esports event, replacing Gamers8 as the country's flagship festival. With a total prize pool exceeding $60 million, the event faces criticism for alleged ‘esportswashing’ amid ongoing concerns over Saudi Arabia's human rights record.

MOONTON Games and Qiddiya City Extend Partnership for Mobile Legends Tournaments

MOONTON Games and Qiddiya City have announced an extension of their partnership to enhance the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) tournaments globally. Qiddiya City will now serve as the Global Presenting Partner for the M6 World Championship in Malaysia and the Official Sponsor for MPL MENA Seasons 5 and 6, and MPL Indonesia Seasons 13 and 14. This partnership includes the introduction of Qiddiya Play of the Day and Qiddiya Legends Award to recognize outstanding in-game plays and player performances. The collaboration aims to bolster MLBB's competitive scene, providing multi-level support and enriching the esports experience for fans worldwide.

Valve Accused of Market Manipulation in $817 Million Steam Lawsuit

Steam is facing a $817 million collective action claim, accused of overcharging 14 million UK consumers by leveraging market dominance. The claim, filed at the Competition Appeal Tribunal on June 5 by digital rights campaigner Vicki Shotbolt, alleges Valve is "rigging the market and taking advantage of UK gamers." Shotbolt claims Valve's pricing restrictions and commissions up to 30% have unfairly inflated costs for UK consumers.

Star Citizen, an ambitious space simulator and MMO, has raised over $700 million in funding, yet remains without a release date 12 years into its development. 

Initially launched as a Kickstarter project in 2012 by game developer Chris Roberts, Star Citizen promised an expansive universe with unparalleled detail and freedom for players. The project's scope quickly ballooned, attracting massive financial support from a dedicated fanbase.The staggering amount of funds, primarily sourced from crowd-funding and private investments from billionaires like Clive Calder, has set records in the gaming industry. 

Despite amassing such a fortune, Star Citizen's full release remains elusive. The game, though playable, is still in an alpha state, with no launch date in sight. A recent blog post by Founder and CEO Chris Roberts mentions that the game will enter alpha version 4.0 later this year, with “Star Citizen 1.0 twinkling on the horizon.” However, it’s uncertain if that horizon is near or still light years away.

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