The first floor of the PC gaming area at e-ZONe in Osaka, Japan.
Tourism is one of the many industries that enjoy positive spillover effects from the fast-growing video game and esports markets in Asia. There is a strong intersection of esports and tourism in particular, and one aspect of interest is esports hotels. Niko Partners initially observed esports hotels in 2017 when the first Asian location opened in Chinese Taipei. The concept has become more prominent across the region since then and the trend of esports hotels accelerated rapidly after the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. In short, esports hotels provide rooms with esports and gaming facilities such as multiple gaming PCs and peripherals for guests to use.
Esports hotels can currently be categorized into two distinct segments, specialty esports hotels and regular hotels with esports facilities.
Specialized esports hotels provide esports-centric facilities and services in all guest rooms and in other dedicated areas of the hotel.
Hotels with esports facilities are regular hotels that offer both standard hotel rooms and rooms with esports themes or facilities, with the latter usually being offered in partnership with a brand or publisher.
This article examines esports hotels throughout Asia by region.
In 2017, i Hotel, located in Chungli, Chinese Taipei, pioneered the gaming and esports hospitality experience. ASUS ROG and 168inn jointly built i Hotel, in which each of the 44 rooms is equipped with ASUS esports PCs.
Japan’s first esports hotel, e-ZONe, opened in Osaka in 2020 with 9 floors of guest rooms and 3 floors dedicated to gaming. In addition to the private gaming rooms, guests can use the pre-installed Steam gaming and capsule-style accommodation services.
Meanwhile, the deep-rooted “PC bang” culture in South Korea flows through esports hotels in the country. Mayfield Hotel located in Gangseo-gu, Seoul, has collaborated with a gaming company, MSI, and has rooms that provide gaming setups for guests. Notable esports hotels in South Korea include H Hotel and Donkey Hotel. Both are known for being budget friendly, having a fast internet connection, and showcasing a plug-and-play setup for their guests.
At Jinge Hotel, a virtual human VEEGY provides guests with information related to the hotel and esports content.
China is the largest market for esports in the world with over 400 million fans. While we’ve tracked a decline in internet café attendance and usage, especially since the COVID-19 outbreak when the industry was hit with temporary closures, this has been partially offset by growth in esports hotels. Esports hotels started playing a large role in second-tier cities like Xi’an and Zhengzhou in 2017. Between 2018 and 2019, we saw the number of esports hotels increase rapidly across 1st tier and 2nd tier cities. The number of esports hotels in China reached 11,000 in H1 of 2022, and it is expected to exceed 20,000 by the end of 2023.
According to the 2022 Esports Hotel Market Research Report jointly published by China Tourist Hotels Association and Tongcheng Travel, approximately 36% of the 11,000 are specialized esports hotels while 64% are regular hotels with esports facilities. Esports hotels in China have more recently expanded to include additional entertainment experiences such as escape rooms, murder mystery games (剧本杀外卖), video games’ IP themed rooms and more. These innovations increase content experiences which provide more custom curated options for local Gen Z and millennials.
Intelligent esports hotels are emerging as well, notably Jinge Hotel jointly built by Tencent Esports and Ouyu Technology, that “employ” a virtual human VEEGY which provides information related to the hotel and esports content for guests.
Demographics of Chinese esports hotel visitors
Esports hotels in Mainland China are becoming more popular among all age groups, but especially the youth and those that aspire to play esports. Over one-third of those who have stayed in an esports hotel are between 15-18 years old and two-thirds are under the age of 23 while 8.3% of gamers between 15-18 have stayed in an esports hotel which is the highest rate among all age groups. This is notable as traditional internet cafes have banned minors for nearly two decades, while esports hotels are not yet subject to the same rules as of December 2022. Esports events and titles also heavily drives interest in esports hotels. The six most popular games among those who have stayed in an esports hotel over the past year are all esports games while 79.5% of esports hotel patrons aspire to compete in esports at either the amateur or professional level compared to just 19.6% of the overall Chinese gamer population.
Malaysia and Singapore are the leading countries in Southeast Asia to venture into the untapped market of esports hotels there, catering to the rising local demand for gaming and esports. This builds on Malaysia and Singapore’s strengths in tourism.
For example, 5-star hotel Fairmont Singapore and consumer electronics company Razer jointly created the luxury gaming suites called Razer Gaming Suites. A set of three rooms are available to rent from May 2022 to April 2023.
The Arena Esports flagship hotel located at Bugis Village, Singapore is Southeast Asia’s largest esports gaming arena-themed hotel. The hotel and arena totals 25,000 sq. ft, and is equipped with co-working, co-playing, and co-living spaces.
Meanwhile in Malaysia, SEM9 Senai, formerly known as the Perth Hotel, is Southeast Asia’s first esports-focused hotel built by SEM9 esports organization, backed by SEAGM and Aiken Digital, and has been open to the public since June 1 this year.
The market for esports hotels is just emerging in the Middle East. In June 2022, Dubai-based Rove Hotels in collaboration with Playtonia, Razer, and Dubai Sports Council introduced Rove’s Gamer Caves, the first hotel gaming rooms in the region. We anticipate this market to grow quickly.
Esports hotels in Asia – 5 takeaways
- Esports hotels are on the rise in Asia, as the tourism industry is acknowledging the popularity of esports and video games and more hotels are exploring the business model.
- Esports hotels can be both attractions and accommodation for tourists. It is a way to promote the tourism industry and generate revenue.
- Esports hotels have become a vertical outlet for publishers, peripheral manufacturers, and brands to reach the gaming audience through unique partnership opportunities that place key IP and products directly in front of players.
- With a strong culture and history of internet cafes in many Asian countries, esports hotels are essentially upgraded versions that emblemize the intersect of tourism and gaming.
- Hospitality experiences are also enhanced by a shift in retail trends moving away from product-centric marketing towards a customer-centric model. With new technologies emerging that create new genres of consumer experience, esports hotels are a gamer’s paradise and promote the gaming experience to people from all walks of life.
Authors: Marco Vicente and Edward Tien