Global e-sports revenue is forecast to surpass $1 billion for the first time in 2021, growing 14.5% year-on-year, according to gaming analytics firm Newzoo. While it is still a small part of the overall global games market, growth is expected to remain strong. JD is hoping for a slice of this pie.But its involvement in e-sports is also part of a broader marketing push to associate the company with gaming. E-sports has helped “to get into consumer mindsets,” Tan said.He added that the company is focusing on building up the profile of players “in a way to help us promote products.”

“Ultimately, I think what we want to do is to build a platform where when you think about gaming anything you need on gaming you go to JD,” Tan said.

JD is not in the business of producing and making games like Tencent or NetEase. Tencent in particular has grown globally by acquiring or investing in gaming studios. Tan said that is not JD’s focus but did not rule out the possibility of co-investing in gaming companies with a partner.

“I think if there is an opportunity, if it is a good opportunity, we will consider … we are very open,” Tan said.

JD sees ‘huge potential’ in gaming

Tan said JD’s gaming efforts are in the early stage and that the company is not looking into a business model at this point.

“At the end of the day, I think the entire industry is still at the incubation stage. So from our perspective, it’s investment,” Tan said.

“But we do see a huge potential … it’s not only selling of mobile phones, not in terms of revenue sharing on games … I think that’s towards the end,” he said.

What JD is doing is to try to create value, Tan said. “We need to incubate the entire ecosystem before we think about … how do you cash out.”

Tan also said there were a lot of indirect benefits from investing in gaming.

“It’s about participating, it’s about being involved with young people, associating with young people. And that’s the kind of consumers we want, you know … they will use JD,” he said.