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Before We Pump RM10 Mil Into The E-Sports Industry, Let’s Fix These 4 Issues First

  • Malaysia’s e-sports scene will see plenty of investment from the government and industry players in 2019.
  • With that investment, Malaysia has to be careful with how they grow the e-sports scene as it takes everyone to contribute to make it successful. 

With the recently announced Budget 2019, e-sports has been under the spotlight; RM10 million was allocated to grow the Malaysian e-sports scene.

The allocation will go to Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MDEC), who is looking forward to working with the government to take Malaysian e-sports to the global stage. Due to the astounding amount being invested, other players in the industry too have taken notice and are coming forward with their own ways of contributing.

Razer’s CEO, Min-Liang Tan has also offered to chip in RM10 million on top of Malaysia’s initial investment to boost the e-sports scene. Other players such as Kitamen have allocated a RM100,000 investment to help develop e-sports and gaming grassroots and even The Pantheon are looking to allocate RM10 million to build three more e-sports centers of their own in 2019.

With such positive news among industry players, e-sports enthusiasts are buzzed with the future of e-sports in Malaysia. However, the government and industry players must pay heed to certain areas that might affect the industry and spiral out of control if ignored.

1) It’s Not Just About Playing Games, But Also Making Games

2018 saw the further rise of the e-sports industry in Malaysia. It is estimated that there are 2.4 million e-sports enthusiasts in Malaysia alone.

With Southeast Asia leading the pack as the fastest-growing e-sports market in the world with more than 9.5 million e-sports enthusiasts, this number is expected to double by 2019. Malaysia is ranked number 22 in global game revenue estimates for 2018 at US$633 million.

However, there’s more to e-sports than playing games. It is a large industry that can potentially provide high-quality jobs including software developers, engineers, graphic designers, illustrators, and even e-sports marketers and advertisers.

The Budget 2019 announcement proves a point that e-sports isn’t something to be looked down upon and instead it is a legitimate field and career where youth can pursue their passion for e-sports and games.

The games industry will be a US$180.1 billion industry and e-sports is a growing part of the ecosystem. This will give Malaysia the opportunity to groom new talents in the ecosystem that can become champions in e-sports and in the creation of games for the world market.

Image Credit: Twitter/ Syed Saddiq

Take for example the 12-year-old Malaysian boy who recently gained world recognition after having his game deleted in an Internet cafe. Muhammad Thaqif who didn’t have his own computer, was working on his game and was looking to sell it for RM1 at an internet cafe, but it was deleted by staff who thought it was a virus.

He gained recognition after a netizen posted about his plight and even the Youth and Sports Minister, Syed Saddiq noticed his story. He was dubbed Malaysia’s “youngest game developer” by Syed Saddiq.

2) Infrastructure In Terms Of Internet Accessibility, Training Hubs, And Mentors

Internet accessibility and speed in Malaysia is still a problem especially in rural areas; the average internet speed in Malaysia was 8.9 Mbps in 2017.

However in Budget 2019 they announced that they will reduce fixed line broadband prices by the end of 2018 and allocate RM1 billion for the National Fibre Connectivity Plan to boost internet connectivity in rural areas within five years. It’s now up to the internet operators to carry out their responsibilities and promises.

Other than that, there should also be more legitimate gaming hubs opened nationwide rather than just in Kuala Lumpur and major cities. Kids who don’t have access to computers at home often just go to the nearest cybercafe to play, which are often unregulated, and also aren’t very conducive or healthy spots to be in.

Furthermore, there should be sufficient mentors and programmes to train and nurture future talents and we’re seeing more of that with educational institutes such as Asia Pacific University

APU launched the e-sports academy programme to channel students passion for competitive gaming and Brickfields Asia College (BAC) also has an e-sports bootcamp that teaches you to be a player, content creator or even manager/ owner.

With the investment in e-sports, more education institutes should be picking e-sports up as a course and letting students learn more about the gaming industry.

3) Training New Talent & Actually Retaining Them

Image Credit: Mineski

Malaysia is well known for their Dota 2 players such as Mushi and MidOne, but one problem is that most of the Malaysian players join international teams.

Yap Jian Wei who goes by his gamer name “xNova” once said that the e-sports scene in Malaysia is still growing, but the platform is not good enough for players to sustain this career. He attributed this to the lack sponsorship and involvement from industry players.

However, we are beginning to see growing interest from big names such as AirAsia who have announced plans to build an e-sports hub located in Klang. AirAsia has been a big advocate in Malaysian e-sports. Outside of being a main sponsor for WESG, they have an AirAsia E-sports Zone in their headquarters, and acquired a Mobile Legends team earlier this year. As more big players start paying attention to e-sports, hopefully more players would be attracted to stay in Malaysia and nurture their talent here.

As e-sports is going to be a full-medal event in the 2022 Asian Games, we should start looking for our own national team for different games to be ready to challenge other countries.

On top of that, the International Olympic Committee is also considering to include e-sports in the 2024 Olympics which will be held in France.

4) Organise Proper Events & Be Held Accountable

Image Credit: AGES 2016

It not only takes great players to make an e-sports event memorable, but also great organisers who can execute it properly.

In the past, the AGES 2016 event left a black mark on the Malaysian e-sports scene. It was marketed as the biggest regional e-sports tournament ever held at that time. With a RM1 million prize pool with 3 major game titles, Dota 2, CS:GO & FIFA 16, the tournament was officially sponsored by Platinum Eden Sdn. Bhd, with Friends Worldwide Sdn. Bhd acting as the event organisers for the tournament, and it was endorsed by Esports Malaysia.

The event was marred by money issues; the organiser told players that the prize money would be distributed within 3 months after the tournament, however that has yet to be seen even until now.

Futhermore, it wasn’t just players but also talents who were left unpaid. Muhammad Farouq or more commonly known as Flava, a notable e-sports figure in Malaysia expressed his frustrations of the lack of communication from the tournament organisers as well as the lack of payment.

Thus, we should learn from this episode and ensure that there won’t be another AGES 2016 in the future. There has to be proper structure in events and that organisers are to be held accountable for everything rather than pushing the blame around.

Final Take

With e-sports set to take the world stage in the coming years, Malaysia has to keep moving forward to bring our local e-sports scene to become world class. However, for that to happen it’s not only up to the government but everyone will need to play their part.

Everyone has to play a role in this—the governments, industry players, organisers, education institutions and players themselves, in order to produce a sustainable e-sports ecosystem.

Also, let’s not forget the mobile market as mobile games this year are set to generate US$70.3 billion which translates to 51% of the global market. There’s huge potential there and Malaysia should tap into the mobile gaming market more.

Let’s hope that everyone keeps to their promises, and we get to see more major tournaments held in Malaysia such as the upcoming Dota 2 Kuala Lumpur Major which will be held this month.

  • If you would like to read more about Budget 2019 and the investment into e-sports, click here.

Feature Image Credit: ESL Gaming

 

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