For the third time, a trade mission of top Malaysian games companies is making the trip from Kuala Lumpur to participate in Games Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco Show where they will be introduced, promoted and supported by Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC). The Malaysian Pavilion with its more than 12 attending companies is located at the GDC expo floor, booth #2202.
InsideGamesAsia.biz had the chance to get first-hand information from the Director of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Hasnul Hadi Samsudin, about the status quo of the Malaysian games industry.
IGA.biz: Since 2015 MDEC is organizing a mission to GDC in San Francisco. What are the greatest achievements of the games industry in Malaysia since 2015? What are the targets for MDEC in supporting the establishment of the Malaysian Games Industry?
Hasnul Hadi Samsudin: Since 2015 there was a concerted effort by MDEC to accelerate the growth of the Malaysian games industry to organize itself into a regional games hub. With this in mind, we were focused on 3 fronts:
• The attraction of Malaysia as an investment destination for games business and production
• The support and facilitation to the growth of the ecosystem – through its talents and companies
• The awareness and marketing of Malaysia’s Game Industry to the world
Being at GDC since 2015 pushes the awareness of Malaysia’s seriousness in realizing its vision. We want everyone to know that we are consistent with our vision and take every action to ensure that we reach our goals. Since then – we’ve seen our companies and industry achieving great and steady growth.
MY game industry revenue growth 2011-2015 was 39.9% (RM81.8m to RM313m). MY GDP growth, by contrast, was an average of 5.3% throughout the same period.
Exports have seen impressive growth during the same period: 60.2% growth (RM38m to RM253m). It is now the second biggest contributor of exports in the creative content and tech sector behind Film, TV, VFX. The exports, on average, account for about 31% of the video games’ segment’s revenue.
IGA.biz: Could you give us a short overview of the local games industry? Are mobile games a focus?
Hasnul Hadi Samsudin: Following sourced from SEA Game Industry Report 2015 and the SEA Game Industry Talent Report 2016 (MDEC) the Malaysia industry is 2/3 (65.8%) game developers and 8% publishers. The remaining 26% are a combination of both. The Majority, 60% of the industry, are smaller companies, studios with 10 persons or less. 17% are large-scale with more than 50 persons. 48% of studios are less than 3 years in operation and 86.7% of studios work on mobile platforms, while 56% of studios work on PC game development.
As you can see – the majority of the developers are on the mobile platform as most have shorter development cycles, low on resource needs and an easier path for distribution and publishing (mainly independent). But this does not mean that we are solely focused on the government in pushing specifically in the mobile game development space. Our goal is to create the right talent, teams, and companies that will be able to straddle across genres, platforms and mediums.
IGA.biz: Are the local developers building games for the local market, or aim to sell their titles internationally?
Hasnul Hadi Samsudin: A large percentage of our developers are building games for the international market –by virtue that our local market is small and saturated. With this in mind, we are looking into also creating a local market together with non-games industries to introduce the interactive medium through games/gamification.
It is important to highlight the external development (games dev/art outsourcing) sector within the games industry – a portion of our companies are highly regarded within the international arena for providing high-end quality game production services for AAA games studios and publishers. This gives our industry an edge as they have the skills and quality to contribute to AAA games and in the eventuality that they decide to develop their own – the ability is there.
IGA.biz: Malaysia is becoming more and more a hub for game development studios in South East Asia. What makes Malaysia so attractive for game development?
Hasnul Hadi Samsudin: The Strengths of the MY game industry are a strong and focused Government support to game industry (MDEC), a high English proficiency levels for our talent, ranked top 20 in ease of doing business worldwide with a high literacy of ICT and internet users in the country. Investment from both Eastern and Western game companies widens the pool of available jobs in Malaysia’s games industry.
For investors, we provide the MSC incentives which provide a 10 bill of guarantees – which includes Pioneer Status (10-year corporate tax exemption), freedom of ownership and allowance to employ local and foreign knowledge workers.
Most importantly, Malaysia has been a consumer of both – Western and Eastern/ Asian content. The talent pool here grew up with the like of Mickey Mouse, Superman, and Spiderman but they also love Ultraman, Doreamon and Naruto. This allows the developers and talent to be more adaptive and able to meld ideas from both these influences.
IGA.biz: What would you say are the biggest business opportunities and challenges for a Malaysian game publisher and developer?
Hasnul Hadi Samsudin: There are a lot of opportunities for our games industry as consistently high-service quality. We are able to get more Work for Hire activities from anchor companies internationally. We want to continue to expand and create capacity for this – not just for game art but also co-development and also live-ops services.
Also, to continue our business-friendly policies encourage more investors to venture into the game industry. It is an opportunity for foreign and local investors having MDEC focused on the industry.
Multiple screens per user in Malaysia enlarge demand for games. This trend is growing and will subsequently increase the demand for more games content.
The increase in holding international game-related events can create opportunities for related events for industry and IHLs to meet, enable cooperation and collaboration. Our 3rd edition of LEVEL UP KL event coming up in November this year – which is fast becoming the regional games industry event.
We acknowledge an Imbalance game talent pool: many game artists but lack game programmers. We are working closely with our talent funnel to improve this situation. Also, there is a lack of business acumen subjects in the game development courses in local IHLs. A joint program between industry and IHL(MYGAMEDEV) has already been in motion for a few years already.
As a market, our Game players prefer to play western titles to local game titles. We are working with local media outlets and publishers to highlight our local game developers and content.
The lack of distribution channels to publish games both locally and internationally – especially from Malaysia to the world. But this is changing rapidly.
IGA.biz: It is the third time that Malaysia has a major presence at GDC. What are the plans for this year and how many companies will be present at GDC?
Hasnul Hadi Samsudin: We have 11 companies joining us this year – ranging from game developers, game services and even a VR banking product that is being pushed by a local Malaysian Bank. We hope that we have people coming around to our pavilion and meet with our companies and learn what Malaysia’s game industry has to offer!
IGA.biz: Please could you introduce some of the companies?
Hasnul Hadi Samsudin: Passion Republic – Passion Republic is a young and unique studio located in Malaysia that focuses on game cinematic and CG content creation. They delivered games services for Naughty Dog, Dark Souls III or Batman Arkham Knight.
Another company is Kurechii. Kurechii is an Award Winning Mobile/PC game developer studio, fuelled by a healthy mix of creative and crazy minds. Based in Malaysia, we aim to bring more memorable and unique games to the world. (Tiny Guardians, Kings League).
Forest Interactive – Forest Interactive was established in January 2006 with the focus on providing back-end application and Mobile Content services to other Content Providers/Aggregators in Malaysia. Forest Interactive intends to be at the forefront of making this possible by enabling global wireless solutions for enterprises and merchants anywhere, via any access method, in any format and across any transaction channel.
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IGA.biz: If companies want to learn more about to establish a business connection to Malaysia, who should they talk to at GDC (and in general) and what could MDEC offer them for the establishment of business?