Could Malta become a new esports hotspot?
Whilst nations like South Korea, the US and even Sweden have long been associated with the competitive gaming phenomenon, it seems that the small European archipelago of Malta is set to join in the action. This is because the Maltese government has unveiled plans to attract gaming developers, host esports events on the island, and make the country a new hotspot for competitive gaming.
According to recent news stories, the Government of Malta’s 2019 budget will feature measures that include an ‘aggressive move to form a cluster for the esports world’. As such, we can expect a host of plans that could put Malta as a new focus on the competitive gaming map. But with plenty of other new esports projects taking place everywhere from the UK to Poland, it seems that things are heating up in this fiercely competitive domain.
Does Malta have what it takes to compete with the big esports players?
Malta might be well-known for its attractive climate and wide range of tourist sites, but the fact that it has made big plans to enter the esports fray may have taken many people by surprise. After all, it is a small island nation of just 460,000 people, so it’s questionable as to whether it can take on competitive gaming superpowers like South Korea, China and the US.
However, a closer look at the nation’s infrastructure shows that Malta could be particularly well-suited to the competitive gaming phenomenon. Recently we have seen how Malta has become a key player in the burgeoning blockchain industry, and the establishment of the Malta Gaming Authority has meant that the country has set itself at the heart of the online gambling revolution.
It’s a well known fact that Malta’s somewhat idiosyncratic approach to regulation has meant that it is a nation that’s hugely popular amongst entrepreneurs and start-up projects. And with the esports industry keen to explore new avenues in the most unlikely of places, it seems that the Maltese government’s plans to make the nation desirable to a new generation of competitive gaming brands couldn’t have come at a better time.
Promising developments in Malta’s esports scene
Whilst details surrounding the Maltese government’s plans to attract esports companies are still fairly hazy, it’s hoped that we will discover more information as the year unfolds. The announcements in the 2019 budget highlighted the creation of a new entity called TechMT that will market Malta as a key hub in the world’s digital economy, but it’s the fact that there will be a new development centre for esports that will be of greatest interest to gamers.
The GO Malta Esports Festival has already done a great job of showing that this small nation can cater to the needs of competition gaming fans. This annual event has traditionally focussed on the first-person shooter, Call of Duty, and whilst its overall prize pool of €5,000 may be modest, the fact that the tournament has recently teamed up with European Esports Gaming suggests that it could grow significantly over the coming years.
There have been many other successful esports tournaments being held in Malta recently that have allowed gamers to compete on titles as far-ranging as the PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds battle royale game to the fighting game, Tekken 7. And with an estimated 159 gamers in Malta who have made money from esports competitions that take in everything from FIFA to Fortnite, it seems as though the time could be right for a Maltese esports revolution.
Which countries could limit Malta’s esports ambitions?
As the competitive gaming scene kicked off in South Korea in the early 2000s, it’s little surprise to find that this nation still produces many of the world’s top esports teams and players. But as the esports industry has expanded over the globe to eventually produce an estimated $1 billion in revenues in 2019, it’s clear that many nations are suddenly taking an interest in this phenomenon.
All eyes are on China at the moment as it has over 620 million gamers, and there have been positive moves made by the government to actively promote competitive gaming and help key players like TenCent take advantage of esports. Similarly, we’ve been interested to see how the US has taken measures to set up new professional leagues for everything from Overwatch to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in a bid to make esports something akin to a traditional sport.
Sweden took everyone by surprise with the success of their DreamHack gaming tournaments, and other European nations like Poland, the UK, Germany and France have also found success with their fledgling esports tournaments. And with even Brazil giving us some of the most successful esports teams, it seems as though the time is right for Malta to join the global esports revolution.