Capcom President: We are fully engaging the eSports market, focusing on five, ten and even twenty years into the future

'We are taking a long-term view of eSports, moving toward cooperating with local governments and businesses on regional revitalization efforts'

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • March 1, 2019 at 7:42 p.m. PST

As the eSports train continues to pick up speed, gaming communities have become more and more comfortable with shedding the anxieties and leaning into this massive new landscape.

After taking into account the growth of first person shooter, battle royale and multiplayer online battle arena scenes, it's clear that the fighting game car is a little closer to the back of our figurative train. This is perhaps most easily evidenced by the numbers as we compare, say, 2018 Dota 2 World Championship's $25 million prize pool to the $500,000 prize pool of the 2018 Capcom Pro Tour.

While companies like Bandai Namco are gaining momentum with great strides thanks to the success of titles like Tekken 7 and Dragon Ball FighterZ, it's still Capcom that widely remains the torch bearer for fighting game eSports at this point in time.

As such, their movements, plans, and outlooks are especially significant to the entire sub-genre, and a recent message from President and Chief Operating Officer, Haruhiro Tsujimoto, gives us a fairly vivid view of where the company currently stands.

Capcom included a collection of statements from Tsujimoto in their latest investor relations update. He speaks first to the success of digital sales since new initiatives were put in place in early 2017, and then speaks on the company's eSports progress and goals.

"We are also fully engaging the eSports market," starts Tsujimoto. "Last year, with the establishment of JeSU (Japan eSports Union) as a jumping-off point, the growth options in this field have increased, and the intrinsic potential of eSports as the "future of sports" is now at the center of attention."

Tokido poses for the cameras after his 2017 SF5 EVO victory. Photo credit: Stephanie Lindgren.

The Pro Tour (previously featuring Street Fighter 4 and then Street Fighter 5 after its 2016 release) has become an expected and routine anchor in the competitive Street Fighter world. It has seen growth and success over the last five years with increases in number of events, global presence and an overall prize pool that has reached $600,000 here in 2019.

Capcom added the Japanese Street Fighter League in 2018, and has repeated said League here in 2019 on top of adding a North American version.

Tsujimoto notes this as he further articulates his company's growth in eSports, "Leveraging our Street Fighter brand, Capcom has promoted the Capcom Pro Tour for a number of years through Capcom U.S.A., Inc., our U.S. subsidiary. This year, we began a new endeavor with the launch of the Street Fighter League."

While it has become apparent that the bulk of the FGC has warmed up to the general eSports move, there still remains some speculation that this particular gaming genre may not have what it takes to thrive as a spectator sport.

Those with hesitations might point to the fact that major sponsor Echo Fox heavily downsized its fighting game team in recent months, or perhaps the fact that the Tekken World Tour Finals saw a significant decrease in prize pool from 2017 to 2018, leading some of the game's top competitors to consider not returning to the Tour in 2019.

Again, fighting games are clearly not booming in eSports to the same extent as the aforementioned genres, but it seems the torchbearers see a bright future in front of them. Tsujimoto finishes his statements with the following:

"We are taking a long-term view of eSports, and with an eye toward cooperating with local governments and businesses on regional revitalization efforts, are focused on not only two- or three-year, short-term activities, but those that extend five, ten and even twenty years out, in order to promote eSports well into the future."

Seeing as Street Fighter 5 represents Capcom's only real eSports hand at the moment, this "full steam ahead" approach is surely due in no small part to the title's eSports-related successes. We look forward to seeing what the company brings to the table in the coming months and years with future games as they attempt to realize the goals outlined by Tsujimoto here.

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