Malta allocates cash to drive its esports strategy and further strengthen its digital sector.
In the 2019 Budget, the Maltese government allocated €1.3m to its esports strategy for the year – not a small sum considering the size of the country!
According to Malta Today newspaper, Silvio Schembri, junior minister for digital innovation, said:
“We want to attract not just competitive games, where we hope to host a tournament to test the waters in December, but also videogame designers and become a destination for a holistic videogame experience.”
And, Simon Theuma, CEO of Malta’s leading esports organisation Quickfire, commented:
“We hope this investment will mean more locals getting involved. It doesn’t just have to be events – there are lots of areas for an esports professional or enterprise to succeed: content production, commentating, coaching, you name it.”
BLOCKCHAIN ISLAND TO BECOME ESPORTS ISLAND?
On 28 December this year, the tiny Mediterranean island nation will host its biggest esports event ever, with a CS:GO tournament featuring a $150,000 prize pool. Though this may be small compared to other international esports tournaments, it’s a considerable evolution for Malta – a nation of half a million people that’s smaller than the US city of Tucson or the Isle of Man.
Whilst Malta is already producing professional home grown esports players like Twitch streamer Rachel Thake and Kurt Fenech – who placed third in the FIFA eWorld Cup 2018 Grand Finals in London, winning $20,000 – it is the Maltese economy that stands most to gain from the global explosion of esports.
Already putting itself on the map as ‘Blockchain Island,’ Malta has also long been the European hub of the igaming and sports betting industry, making it fertile ground to capitalise on esports.
TIME TO WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE
Though some in the igaming and sports betting industry are sticking their collective heads in the sand, and refusing to acknowledge esports, others are quickly recognising that the future lies in a synergised online entertainment offering. Perfectly illustrating this is Las Vegas-based Unikrn, with their esports skill-based self-betting.
The generations of consumers who have grown up with hyper realistic video games and immersive digital entertainment demand much more than simple slots, often find traditional sports boring because of the lack of interaction, and expect immediate, information rich, personalised and engaging products.
As they say, if you want to know what is happening just “follow the money”, so when we see giant global corporations start to shift money away from traditional sports and entertainment, and invest it in esports, it should speak loud and clear to anyone who’s actually listening.