Fans waiting for pop singer Jay Chou’s (周杰伦) new album may have to wait even longer, as their beloved idol has been busy doing something else: opening a cybercafé. The Taiwanese pop music superstar forked out RMB 18 million to open a internet café in south China’s Shenzhen, seen by local media (in Chinese) as Chou testing the e-sports waters.
Jay Chou, who came in third with RMB 181 million in business revenue (in Chinese), in a 2007 list of top 100 Chinese celebrities with most commercial value, has partnered with VC fund IDG Capital to form an e-sports cybercafe brand called JESPORTS (摩杰电竞 in Chinese).
Their first fruit, a 1,700-square-meter luxury cybercafé equipped with 230 computers, has areas for online games, board games, and watching live streaming e-sports competitions.
Prior to the cybercafé, Chou, as a hardcore gamer himself, has not only endorsed a number of popular gaming titles such as League of Legends (英雄联盟 in Chinese) and streamed his own play, but also bought a Taiwanese League of Legends team called Taipei Assassins.
There are about 160,000 cybercafés in the country (in Chinese), with the top three brands combined taking less than less than 0.2% market share. These cafes have similar business models, dependent on charges for access to the internet and revenue from their refreshment bars. Although some cybercafé operators have been trying to hold live e-sports tournaments and hire live streaming hosts to attract more gamers, they cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, lacking brand influence and resources.
Chou plans to leverage the JESPORTS brand to partner with more gaming firms and hold e-sports tournaments in the future, JESPORTS is less a cybercafé and more a stepping stone for him to explore the hot e-sports gaming market.