Professional Japanese Gamer Criticizes New e-Sports Group, Licenses
Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association (CESA) and Japan Online Game Association (JOGA) announced on September 19 that they are partnering with the e-sports organizations Japan eSports Association (JeSPA), eSports Promotion Organization, and Japan eSports Federation (JeSF) to create a unified e-sports association that can develop and support the industry. The group of five organizations then announced on December 13 that the three e-sports entities will be “completely integrated” by early next spring. While the prospect of unifying the industry appears to be a step forward for the cohesion of professional gaming in Japan, some members of the community are dubious about the details of the project.
The new collective organization is collaborating with Dwango Co., Ltd. and Gz Brain Inc to co-host the Tokaigi 2018 gaming event, which will be held jointly with Japan Amusement Expo (JAEPO) at Chiba’s Makuhari Messe convention center on February 10-11. For the first time, the event will issue professional licenses for gamers in Japan. The licenses will be issued for the Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 (Winning Eleven 2018), Street Fighter 5 Arcade Edition, Tekken 7, Puzzle & Dragons, and Monster Strike games.
The newly established organization will issue the licenses to “high-level players meeting the skill requirements.” The group is also considering a provision to allow gamers who have participated in past competitions to receive pro licenses with the recommendation and approval of the publishers. The announced system is a way for the professional gaming industry to comply with existing Japanese laws that limit awarding large amounts of prize money. The same laws also regulate the gambling industry.
Professional gamer and Shinobism co-founder Yūsuke “Momochi” Momochi (seen above right) believes the system is potentially unfair, and he issued a personal statement on his company’s website. Momochi emphasized that his statement only reflects his personal opinions and he does not fundamentally reject the entire concept of issuing professional gaming licenses. He said that he has also been worried about how to define exactly what a professional gamer is. He hopes that the industry can move toward a clear definition. However, he has concerns about the newly announced license system.
Momochi wonders if the organizations involved really have the right to define what a professional gamer is under the established plan. He feels that the organizations, who professional gamers may be unfamiliar with, are potentially unqualified to determine who can be called pro gamers in Japan. Momochi believes the system fails to acknowledge members of the gaming community in Japan who have worked to build and support the industry. He thinks the announced system creates a disconnect between gamers with first-hand involvement in the world of professional gaming and people in positions of power who could potentially dictate important decisions affecting those players.
The involved organizations have apparently issued no response to professional gamers’ concerns. However, the press release from December 13 states, “such measures [regarding the issuing of licenses] will ensure that fairness and diversity in the process to obtain pro licensing. We will keep you updated on any new developments.”
Together with his partner Yūko “ChocoBlanka” Momochi, Japan’s first female professional gamer, Yūsuke Momochi established the company Shinobism in 2015. Shinobism supports gamers and helps in management of gaming events.
Momochi image via Game*Spark