The adaptation of electronic sports, commonly known as esports, has accelerated in 2023 amid efforts by Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) to nurture local talents against a backdrop of booming tournaments and events.
To date, Malaysia has recorded 14 million gamers.
Many ground-breaking programmes and initiatives introduced have been crucial to support the expansion of this industry, due to accessibility via personal computers and smartphones.
MDEC director of digital content development Mohan Low Han Sen said as a government agency tasked to support the country’s digital transformation, MDEC has played a vital role in nurturing local talent, attracting international events and establishing Malaysia as a hub for esports excellence.
Malaysia’s esports ecosystem is thriving due to these combined efforts, and the nation has seen a surge in the number of active esports users.
To further fuel the excitement, numerous programmes have been conducted, such as competitions in major events like the Malaysia Digital Content Festival and MDEC Shoutcasting Challenge for high school students.
By fostering a favourable business environment and supporting esports startups and organisations, Low said Malaysia could become a regional hub for esports events, tournaments and content creation.
“The game development industry in Malaysia has positioned the nation as a prominent digital content powerhouse on the global landscape.
“Malaysia could produce internationally recognised esports teams and players, attracting major events and leagues to its shores with a thriving esports ecosystem,” he told Bernama.
Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) had previously said the gaming industry had contributed US$100 million (RM468 million) to Malaysia’s revenue in 2018. It predicted that this would expand at a 10.9 per cent compound annual growth rate between 2018 and 2023, with a market volume of US$168 million by 2023.
Malaysia is ranked 21st in the world with a total game income of US$633 million.
The government allocated RM13 million in Budget 2023 to develop the industry due to its immense potential. It is setting aside RM30 million for its growth and development in Budget 2024.
To support its development, the Youth and Sports Ministry (KBS) introduced the National Esports Development Guidelines (NESDEG) on June 20, 2023 to protect players and to provide guidance for organisers.
The guideline contains five chapters covering the development scopes of a safe, vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable ecosystem.
This includes the management of player contracts, governance and event management, the monitoring and protection of children, a code of conduct and ethics, and guidance on esports career paths.
There are plans to include a sixth chapter on the application of science and sports medicine.
Esports players, management teams and organisations applauded the measures, as the guidelines have put in place the much-needed “security” for the industry to thrive sustainably over the long term.
Developing ecosystem for future
Low said Malaysia’s expertise in game development, animation and creative technologies will contribute towards creating high-quality esports content and innovative gaming experiences.
“As thought leaders, Malaysian esports professionals and organisations can shape industry discussions and drive innovations in the sector,” he said.
MDEC will be keen to work towards attracting both local and international investments in the overall games industry, including esports.
Nonetheless, it is also important to address the unintended consequences of growth proactively concerning players’ well-being; inclusivity and diversity; regulatory framework, and cybersecurity and ethics.
Low explained that as the industry gains prominence, ensuring the physical and mental well-being of esports athletes becomes essential. Measures such as access to healthcare services, mental health support and the promotion of healthy gaming habits are crucial.
“As the industry evolves, comprehensive regulations and policies will be needed to govern player contracts, team management, intellectual property rights and fair competition.
“A transparent and fair regulatory framework is vital for the integrity and sustainability of the ecosystem,” he added.
By addressing these challenges, Malaysia can ensure sustainable and responsible growth of the industry, while simultaneously maximising the benefits and mitigating the risks. This will enable Malaysia to thrive as a leading player in the global esports arena, MDEC said. – Bernama