Written by: Deena Yasmeen
Edited by: Ravivarma Muniandy
Image source: Google Images
E-sports in Malaysia has always been thriving even when the odds seemed against it. Some naysayers questioned the legitimacy of the sports. Now, surprisingly the tables have been turned as the Covid-19 pandemic made people seek sporting entertainment in the form of E-sports.
However, this is not to say that Malaysia has always been foreign to the idea of accepting E-sports as a legitimate category. It is to be reminded that in 2019, the then-government had announced an investment of RM10 million for Budget 2019 and RM20 million for Budget 2020 to develop the local E-Sports industry. While it can still sound foreign to the general public that E-Sports is starting to gain recognition from the government, that is our current reality.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, stadiums are closed as well as any public space for gathering in the masses. People started to turn towards E-Sports as a means of entertainment. According to Statista, the number of players for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) broke into the thousands as of March until May 2020. This increase in players proves that the online gaming platform is experiencing a boom in the current market.
Malaysia might not even be that obscure when it comes to the E-Sports market because as reported in The Sun, in 2018, Malaysia ranked as one of the top six countries in Southeast Asia to contribute more than 98% of fans in the region. Malaysians have always been a fan of online sports with Dota being one of the more well-known games played locally.
Not only that, but we also must not forget the significance of E-Sports having its official medal event in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games of 2019. It is worth noting that there is a very real untapped market and with the pandemic, E-Sports has been experiencing a boom like no other. Some people are stuck at home with nothing to do, the only kinds of entertainment one would be able to find is through E-Sports.
Among the companies that benefitted through the E-Sports revenue is Microsoft at a 130% increase of multiplayer engagement between March to April and as of its release in late March, the Nintendo Switch game, ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ sold a whopping 13.5 million copies.
E-Sports is creating job opportunities for the general public. According to E-Sports Malaysia Association (ESM), they will be assisting people in securing player contracts as well as providing legal aid through the provision of pro bono lawyers to represent the players. Besides players, we should also take into account that there are such jobs as event organizers and marketing jobs in E-Sports.
Malaysia is already underway to recognize E-Sports as a legitimate sport that has actual potential in bringing medals for the country, especially with the recent SEA Games having a category for E-Sports.
There is a question on whether this E-Sports pandemic boom will be sustainable in the future post-pandemic climate. There is also a question on whether the people roped into E-Sports would stay after their lives are filled once more with other errands that would require them to move about.
Personally speaking, I believe that it is sustainable but not without a slight dip of the market as society catches up in a post-pandemic world. However, this would actually generate more opportunities for communities to be more informed and involved in E-Sports as a potential job and future career as the market has always been more or less stable in Malaysia. Since E-Sports is relatively common in Malaysia for games such as Dota 2, this might be the gateway for Malaysians to delve into other online sports tournaments.
Currently, it seems to be a waiting game to see if this E-Sports momentum can be kept up in a future post-coronavirus climate. There is without a doubt that it is possible.