What Happened: Tencent Games and Ouyu Technology are teaming up to launch the first esports-themed hotel in Hangzhou, China, set to open later this month. The hotel caters to the mainland’s gaming community, featuring top-of-the-line hardware, comfortable setups, bootcamps, access to professional live-streaming, and even incubation training areas. With the country laying claim to 488 million gaming enthusiasts and an esports market value of a whopping $23 million (147 billion RMB), it’s fair to say this fervor won’t be going anywhere.
The Jing Take: China is home to the world’s largest community of gamers. From simple beginnings as a largely solitary hobby, the wildly popular pastime has evolved to include careers in live-streaming, a colorful and dedicated fan culture, and even esports degree programs offered at some Chinese colleges. Clearly, this subculture has left the underground.
At the Tencent-Ouyu esports hotel, the lines between virtual and physical reality all but disappear. For one, the hotel is staffed by an A.I., and its offerings more closely resemble those of a digital theme park than traditional bed-and-breakfast. For young locals, the complex allows them to live out an alternate reality — whether that’s dreams of a professional gaming career, or just turning their hobby into a multidimensional experience.
In the luxury retail world, recent campaigns have experimented with gaming platforms, avatar interactions, and virtual hosts. The rise of professional esports players means new ambassadors to tap, with a wide reach among China’s Gen Z. For instance, Nike recently unveiled a partnership with League of Legends professional Rekkle. Industry crossovers, too, have been plentiful, with KFC, Uniqlo, Tesla, and MAC releasing limited-edition products themed around gaming. In such a climate, it was only going to be a matter of time before an esports x hotel collab such as this was realized.
But what’s really significant about this development is that it shows the extent to which the virtual world is now manifesting in the real. Gaming’s no longer a niche hobby but a whole lifestyle with sports, careers — and now hotels.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.