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CROSSFIRE STARS 2023 finals showcases localized success in Chengdu

Posted : 17 January 2024

The CROSSFIRE STARS 2023 Finals weekend, held at Chengdu Gaoxin Sports Centre in China, showcased the significance of localizing esports, particularly evident during the finals between Chinese teams Chengdu All Gamers and BaiSha Gaming.


Released in 2007 by South Korean developer Smilegate, CROSSFIRE has become a major FPS title in China, ranking high in popularity since its introduction in 2008. Clever marketing, China-focused cosmetics, and emphasis on accessibility for low-end PCs contributed to its success, leading to the development of a franchised esports league, CFPL, in China.


Chengdu was chosen as the base for CROSSFIRE esports due to favorable policies, a friendly government, and abundant choices in the industry, including proximity to universities. The CFPL secured a 10-year partnership with Chengdu, ensuring stability for the esports scene.


Smilegate's efforts to provide a stable environment for pro league players extend globally through programs like the Player Support Programme, offering monthly salary support. This approach aims not only to support China but also to uplift professional teams from other regions, enhancing the global appeal of CROSSFIRE.


Despite the success of localizing CROSSFIRE in China, Smilegate strives for global growth, with a focus on creating ecosystems similar to the Brazilian player Goken joining the Chinese team BaiSha Gaming. However, localizing strategies may not always work universally in esports, as seen with Call of Duty League's city-based franchise approach.


China's status as the world's largest esports market is undeniable, and despite government restrictions, the sector thrives, generating substantial revenues. Localized activations, such as a drama based on CROSSFIRE, further cement the game's popularity in China, where esports is gradually gaining mainstream recognition.


The emphasis on performance and cultivating celebrity phenomena in China's esports scene, coupled with live-streaming interactions between players and fans, plays a crucial role in developing fan bases.


Localized content, like dramas based on video game titles, contributes to increased viewership, as seen with CROSSFIRE's drama garnering 980 million views in under four weeks.


While CROSSFIRE has succeeded in building a substantial fanbase in China, there is acknowledgment that esports is not yet mainstream, requiring efforts to promote positive aspects like enthusiasm and competition to eliminate misunderstandings.


In developing esports in China, tapping into rural areas is essential, emphasizing the value of titles accessible with low-tech computers.


Smilegate's long-term partnership with Tencent and VSPO has secured CROSSFIRE's future in China for over 15 years, reflecting the game's impressive dominance in a country traditionally reserved towards FPS genres.


As esports continues to evolve, the challenge remains to make it mainstream in China, with efforts focused on promoting the positive spirit of esports to a wider society.


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