[WATCH] World’s largest esports company to help turn Malta into 'European hub' for sector

An agreement between the government and ESL Group aims to develope a multi-year programme for the development of a local esports ecosystem which it is hoped will employ some 2,500 within a decade

The government hopes the sectors will employ some 3,000 people by 2029
The government hopes the sectors will employ some 3,000 people by 2029

The Maltese government is looking to make video game development and esports a major economic sector for the country, through a long-term strategy announced yesterday.

Speaking at the launch of the strategy, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said it would be making Malta a central European hub for the sector, adding that he was proud of the fact that the strategy wasn’t hiding its ambitions.

 “We’re stating quite clearly that within a decade, we want to have this sector contributing an equivalent of 1% to our GDP…and talent engaged in this field of around 2,500-3,000,” Muscat said.

The government, he said, would soon be announcing a number of incentives which will look to have companies relocate to the island. Muscat said the incentives would be in line with EU regulations and will complement other incentives Malta already has in place.

During yesterday’s event the government also signed a memorandum of understanding with video game development with ESL, one of the largest esports companies in the world.

Muscat said there were many ways in which the two sides could collaborate in building a local ecosystem.

“You already refer to other countries as your centrepieces, and I am pretty sure that within the next decade you will be referring to Malta,” Muscat said.

CEO of ESL Global Ralf Reichert  said, “We at ESL have a core mission to create esports ecosystems and we are very excited about developing Maltese esports together with the Maltese Government”.

Speaking on behalf of ESL, Jacob Visser the agreement as a great opportunity for the development of esports in the industry and to support the Maltese government’s goals of fostering video gaming and the esports industry.

Attracting foreign game studios

The vision was presented by Parliamentary Secretary for Digital Innovation Silvio Schembri, who explained emphasised the industry’s potential.

Globally, he said the sector has been experiencing exponential growth for the past ten years. He said the industry was worth more than the film and music industry, and was worth up $134.9 billion in 2018.

He said the vision was another link in a series of other strategies launched in recent years, and follows strategies on blockchain, artificial intelligence and a national space strategy.

The junior minister said that one of the strategy’s main pillars was education.

 “Game developers need industry-led and sector-specific expertise and support in order to grow. After having held discussions with key stakeholders, we decided to embark on significant educational initiatives to sustain the existing pool of talent, cater for the needs of the industry and make it easier for future generations to pursue a career in this thriving sector,” Schembri said.  

Consultation on initiatives to be rolled out by the government are set to continue over the coming weeks.

As regards esports, Schembri said efforts were underway to bring international tournaments to Malta through the GamingMalta Foundation.

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