Positioning themselves for completion around the Olympics, Konami is set to open an all-new dedicated esports center in Ginza, Tokyo, in November 2019. Currently under development, the planned 12 story building will be known as the “Konami Creative Center Ginza”, and will play host to a number of events and additionally offer classes on various esports topics from staff and instructors. It’s also stated that within the building, which is set to be equipped with the latest in technology and lighting, will be a dedicated shop for esports goods.
With construction well underway for the building, it’s set to be one of many changes in the Tokyo skyline leading up to the 2020 Olympic games. During the initial bricklaying ceremony for the building, Konami president Kimihiko Higashio shared the following statement:
“The people who participate in eSports will in the future, stand side by side with those participating in real-life sports like soccer, or even surpass them. Compared to eSports pioneers America and Europe, Japan has still a long way to go. However, looking from another angle, it means Japan has lots of room for growth.”
Though it’s not often recognized, Japan wasn’t a player in the esports scene up until these last couple of years. This was despite a large number of competitive titles originally stemming from Japan and was the direct result of a number of outdated laws preventing professional-level competition with large prize pools. In more recent times, however, we’ve seen these laws reviewed, slowly allowing Japan to get their footing in an already well-established industry.
It’s currently unknown if the Konami Creative Center Ginza will be utilized for esports titles from developers other than Konami, but the move is definitely one that will create a foundation for more companies to build from. With EVO completing its second tour of Japan in 2019, the stage is definitely set for Japan, and I’m sure in coming years we’ll start to see some high-level competition emerging from the country.