Sega Co, Ltd. has addressed the increased need for in-house activities during the COVID-19 pandemic by launching the Puyo Puyo Pro Player Online Challenge.
Since 9 May 2020 and continuing every Saturday until the end of June, the special event has been licensed by the Japan sSports Union (JeSU) and allows players to compete against others using Puyo Puyo eSports on either PlayStation 4 or Nintendo Switch.
Players compete in an online battle room where they are matched against a professional Puyo Puyo player upon entering.
eSports, the rapidly expanding world of professional video gaming, has soared in popularity in recent years with an estimated global audience of around 500 million and revenues from competition of an estimated US$1 billion in 2020.
Although particularly big in Europe, the US and Korea, it has also been gaining traction in Japan and was included in the cultural program of Ibaraki National Athletic Meet last year. It was also scheduled to be at the Kagoshima National Athletic Meet this year until the event was postponed due to COVID-19.
The Sega Sammy group is increasing its focus on eSports and regards it as an important element for the cultural, arts and entertainment sections of a Yokohama IR. Sega Sammy is currently the only domestic operator bidding to enter the Japanese IR market.
Sega Sammy Holdings recently announced a net profit of JPY 13.7 billion (US$127 million) for the year ended 31 March 2020, a fivefold increase on the previous year due in part to strong sales of new game software and increased download game sales stemming from COVID-19.