For those who grew up when the Internet has not made its mark, playing sports means many things; it’s about physically being at open-air field, a court, or in a pool. However, in this day and age, when individuals are so reliant on the Web, there is a different meaning. As this is the digital era, sports is now an activity that can be played on electronic devices; all with their state-of-the-art accessories. Of course, this is done in the comfort of one’s own home. Thus, the term Electronic Sports, or more commonly known as esports.
Esports has undoubtedly been thriving and is now one of the fastest growing industries in the world. In a Newzoo annual report, esports will likely hit US$950 million in revenues for 2018, a 38% increase from 2017. In fact, the industry is growing so rapidly that it is projected to be a billion dollar industry in 2019!
The number of esports fans has also been increasing steadily from 143 million in 2017 to 165 million for 2018. By 2021, estimates are looking to reach 250 million globally. If occasional viewers are added in, the statistics will represent growths from a total of 335 million in 2017; specifically, it will shoot to 557 million by 2021!
This soon-to-be-billion dollar industry has attracted many big brands to jump in; all because of the wide audience reach that they are able to tap onto. From just being a trend, it is now a force to be reckoned with! Further reinforcing this notion, Malaysia’s Ministry of Youth and Sports allocated RM10 million to further develop this next-gen industry. Media Prima, as the largest integrated media company in Malaysia, has taken up the challenge to spearhead this initiative.
The Inception of MyGameOn
One of the first steps Media Prima Digital (MPD) took when entering this industry: create an all-new digital platform. Going by MyGameOn (MGO), it focuses on gaming and esports while adding a local twist to it. The portal recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, reflecting a whole year of bridging gamers and building communities. It has reached out to over 200,000 monthly active users; providing the latest esports updates, live event coverage, reviews, and sponsored content. MGO has also organised esports tournaments and gaming events, giving out over RM145,000 in prizes! Most of them are in-line with the Youth & Sports Ministry’s goal to grow esports within Malaysia.
Collaborating with Industry Experts
As an organisation whose strength lies in media, MPD recognises the need to work with industry experts that can help build a stronger presence in both gaming and esports industries. This paved the way for its decision to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Media Prima Digital and Kitamen Resources. The partner is a lifestyle brand for esports and a community hub with a group of young and vibrant individuals that aim to promote ‘healthy gaming’ nationwide. On top of having the right expertise and passion for esports, Kitamen also organises tournaments and work with best in-class equipment that can manage the high performance demands of these games.
Last March, MPD also collaborated with Garena Malaysia for League of Legends Championship Malaysia; the goal is to make esports more accessible on multiple platforms for all Malaysians. It is also to ensure that the talents in the gaming scene are able to showcase their passion for this promising industry. In line with this goal, MPD also took a huge step with signing an MoU with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) to be exclusive partners in championing local game development. This symbiotic partnership aims to promote and build the gamers ecosystem for Malaysia.
LEVEL UP KL is also another premier industry event for game developers in Southeast Asia where they get together to share the latest gaming updates within the region. This year marks MPD’s third year as the partner for LEVEL UP KL and continue to witness a huge influx of talents within the region in the past three years.
On Ground Participation
In line with the goal to bring esports to the masses, MPD has participated in various local esports events through MGO; the goal is to create awareness and introduce Malaysians to the potential the gaming industry has to offer. Together with Kitamen, they have appeared in several events – like Gegaria, Moh Skor, Asia Comic Con, and MyDigitalMaker – enabling individuals to experience esports first hand. Through these on-ground events, all walks of life in Malaysia got their first taste with League of Legends, FIFA Online 3, and VR games. The stereotype that games are only for kids is slowly diminishing and will soon become an activity that can be enjoyed together as a family.
Esports, the Gold Mine for Advertisers
This new trend has allowed advertisers to be more creative with their brand placement approach. From partnerships, brand contents, strategic media buys, and streaming sponsorship of live-events, there are always interesting approaches for every brand. They can be a part of this explosive growth in any capacity. One example of their recent collaboration is when they had the opportunity to work with Acer and its MohSkor eSports Tournament during Asia Comic Con 2018. Visitors get the chance to play FIFA Online on one of Acer’s most impressive gaming notebooks from its Acer Predator range. Additionally, event-goers are also able to watch and support their favourite players via multiple monitors that pepper the venue.
During the award-winning Gegaria Festival, MPD also worked closely with one of Malaysia’s leading e-wallet services, Boost. Winners of on-ground esports tournaments will get Boost credits. Instead of putting up standard banners on the website, esports and the gaming industry have allowed brands to be more creative in their marketing approach. Branded content in esports is still relatively new, but through YouTube channels and Facebook pages, specific content can be created to ensure the advertiser’s brand placement is visible and will appeal to the brand’s desired target audience.
For the first time in Malaysia, MPD and Celcom Axiata Berhad will be organising the XPAX Kejohanan E-Sukan Kampus (KEK) 2019; it’ll be Malaysia’s first esports championship that will showcase local talent in esports teams
from top higher-learning institutions. They will be competing for a RM180,000 prize-pool. This is an example of a synergistic collaboration between a brand and the in-house gaming portal, MGO, and its partner, Kitamen. Together, the focus will be about accelerating the esports and gaming industry in Southeast Asia.
With the recent coverage and emphasis on esports, there is no doubt that this next-gen sports trend will surpass traditional events; specifically, in terms of viewership and revenue as the community has been growing rapidly, not just in Malaysia, but around the world. The advancement of technology has also given developers a couple of new challenges. Of course, primarily they must continue to work on new content and games that will continue to engage players.