Mohan Low, Director of Digital Content Development, MDEC
Mohan Low has over 20 years of experience in the digital content space, leading teams across games development, publishing and industry building, and not a stranger to the local digital industry. His visionary leadership and deep understanding of the digital realm has propelled him to the forefront of Malaysia’s digital transformation journey. He is currently the Director of Digital Creative Content at MDEC, where his role is to drive the development of Malaysia’s digital creative content industry focusing on games, animation and virtual experiences. Over 30 game titles were launched throughout his tenure at MDEC. His passion has led him to mentor over a 100 game projects and dozens of gaming startups, as well as organise countless gaming culture events. He is currently working towards building Malaysia as a regional digital content hub, and via an interview with myForesight®, below are Mohan Low’s own words on his journey, insights and aspirations for the future Malaysia’s Esports.
“The market and ecosystem for sports+entertainment has exploded in the era of digitalisation, social media, online engagements, consumer demand and even cultural activism. Growing connections to commerce, music, movies and TV shows have reaped tremendous benefits for numerous industries. This includes esports, with vast potential that can span across platforms for skills development, content creation, entrepreneurship and community building, amongst others. Through strategic collaborations with industry stakeholders, educational institutions and esports organisations, this new and ever-changing sports environment cultivates and fosters talent, empowers aspiring gamers, and is able to position Malaysia as a regional esports powerhouse.”
Begin the Battle
Over the past ten years, esports in Malaysia has experienced remarkable growth and development, propelling the country to its current position as a prominent location for competitive gaming. One of the most significant milestones was the recognition of esports as a legitimate competitive activity by the Ministry of Youth and Sports in 2017. This recognition led to increased government support, paving the way for additional infrastructure, funding and resources dedicated to the growth of esports in Malaysia.
As a result, esports has become increasingly popular among younger generations, driving the industry to new heights. Malaysia’s inclusion of esports as official games in events like the SEA Games and Asian Games has also added prestige to the sport, further boosting its appeal.
Mobile esports, in particular, has witnessed substantial growth, thanks to popular games such as Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and PUBG Mobile. The rise of professional esports teams and the influx of corporate sponsorships have also contributed to the industry’s skyrocketing success, gaining international recognition.
MDEC’s role in implementing groundbreaking programmes and initiatives, has been crucial. By developing grassroots programmes for aspiring gamers, supporting professional teams and creating world-class esports infrastructure, we have played a vital role in nurturing local talent, attracting international events and establishing Malaysia as a hub for esports excellence.
With these combined efforts, the esports ecosystem in Malaysia is thriving, and the nation has seen a surge in the number of active esports users. More importantly, our endeavours managed to attract substantial Esports Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), such as the USD10 million investment from Galaxy Racers in 2022, translating into more jobs and industry growth, further solidifying Malaysia’s position in the global esports landscape.
To further fuel the esports excitement, MDEC conducted numerous programmes to support the ecosystem, such as featuring esports competitions in our major events such as Malaysia Digital Content Festival and MDEC Shoutcasting Challenge for high school students.
Mining the Craft
For the past 27 years, MDEC has been leading the development of Malaysia’s digital economy, through the following efforts:
- Driving digital adoption among businesses and the people;
- Supporting local tech enterprises, talents and technopreneurs to compete globally; and
- Attracting high-value digital investments and global tech giants to Malaysia.
We have catalysed digital transformation and growth all over the nation. By offering greater incentives and governance for growth and re-investment, we aspire to bolster Malaysia’s status as the digital hub of ASEAN, opening new doors and driving shared prosperity for all Malaysians.
At MDEC, our mandate is to drive the digital economy and accelerate Malaysia’s digital transformation. Through initiatives like Malaysia Digital (MD), we are committed to creating a digital ecosystem that nurtures innovation, empowers businesses and enables digital inclusion.
With a new and enhanced framework, MD seeks to transform the nation’s digital capabilities and boost the digital economy via the introduction and execution of various MD Catalytic Programmes (PEMANGKIN). PEMANGKIN will attract RM1 billion digital investments and create 49,000 digital job opportunities by 2025.
Under MD, we have identified nine technology focus sectors with high growth potential, traversing digital trade, digital agriculture, digital services, digital cities, digital health, digital finance, digital content, digital tourism and the Islamic digital economy.
Esports fall under digital content. A report by Statista indicated that by 2027, the number of active esports users is expected to reach 6.48 million by 2027, possibly due to accessibility to egames via PCs or smartphones.
Hence, it is only logical that MDEC through MD pays enough attention to the industry and this is done primarily via this two-prong efforts:
- Infrastructure and Facility Support: MDEC supports the establishment of esports companies in Malaysia in all areas, be it in facilitating training facilities, gaming hubs and esports arenas across the country. These companies provide esports enthusiasts and professionals with the necessary infrastructure and resources to practice, compete and showcase their skills, creating a conducive environment for talent development. Some of companies MDEC facilitated was ESL Gaming Malaysia and Dynasty Esports.
- Industry Collaborations: MDEC facilitates collaborations between various stakeholders in the industry, including game developers, tournament organisers, sponsors and content creators. This collaborative approach enhances the overall esports ecosystem in Malaysia, promotes investment opportunities and attracts international esports events to the country.
Our youngsters are also not overlooked. In 2021, MDEC organised a Shoutcasting Challenge for high school students, offering training by professional esports casters to those eager to learn the art of shoutcasting. The top students were granted the opportunity to shoutcast MPL tournaments in Malaysia alongside seasoned professionals, and the winner, Syed “Sunfrost” Fitri Abharshah, has since achieved remarkable success as a renowned shoutcaster and influential TikTok content creator.
We also draw valuable insights from success stories and best practices of countries like South Korea, China and Sweden, which have demonstrated exceptional progress in their esports development. By studying their comprehensive strategies, such as dedicated esports leagues, financial incentives and integrating esports into education, Malaysia can adapt relevant approaches to foster our own thriving esports ecosystem. Embracing these lessons will enable us to position ourselves as a competitive force in the global esports landscape.
Growing the Game
Next on our plate is pursuing industry growth and investments. MDEC would be keen to work towards attracting both local and international investments in the overall games industry, including the esports industry. By fostering favourable business environments and supporting esports startups and organisations, Malaysia could become a regional hub for esports events, tournaments and content creation.
The plausible future of games development industry in Malaysia, positions the nation as a prominent digital content powerhouse on the global landscape. With a thriving esports ecosystem, Malaysia could produce internationally recognised esports teams and players, attracting major events and leagues to its shores.
Our expertise in game development, animation and creative technologies would contribute to creating high-quality esports content and innovative gaming experiences. As thought leaders, Malaysian esports professionals and organisations could shape industry discussions and drive innovations in the esports sector.
However, it is also important to address the unintended consequences of this growth proactively.
- Player Well-being: As esports 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 promoting healthy gaming habits are extremely crucial.
- Inclusivity and Diversity: To maintain a healthy and thriving ecosystem, Malaysia must foster an inclusive environment that encourages participation from diverse backgrounds, including gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Thus, addressing gender disparity is necessary to provide equal opportunities for all.
- Regulatory Framework: As the esports industry evolves, comprehensive regulations and policies would 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 esports ecosystem.
- Cybersecurity and Ethics: With the increasing reliance on digital platforms and online competitions, cybersecurity threats and ethical challenges may arise. Hence, it is essential to prioritise cybersecurity measures, protecting player and fan privacy, as well as establishing ethical guidelines for esports organisations and content creators.
By addressing these challenges, Malaysia can ensure a sustainable and responsible growth of its esports industry, maximising the benefits while mitigating the risks. This way, the nation can continue to thrive as a leading player in the global esports arena.