PRESS RELEASE BY THE OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER

Launch of Malta’s Vision for video games development and esports, and signing of memorandum of understanding between Malta and ESL � ‘We will be putting Malta as a central hub in the Mediterranean and Europe for video games and esports’ � Prime Minister Joseph Muscat

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat launched Malta’s vision for video games development and esports, a vision which will pave the way for growth in this economic sector. ‘It is very clear where we want to go with this strategy. The incentives that will be rolled out are in line with EU regulations and they complement other incentives already in place. We will be putting Malta as a central hub in the Mediterranean and Europe for video game development and esports’, said Prime Minister Muscat.

In reaction to the signing of the MoU with one of the oldest and leading companies in esports sector, ESL, Prime Minister Muscat said that there are many ways in which both sides can collaborate in order to attract companies and enhance touristic niches in this field. ‘The partnership with ESL is very handy. There are many ways in which we can cooperate and build this 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’, said Prime Minister Muscat.

The vision was presented by the Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation Silvio Schembri who explained that the industry has so much potential in terms of value-added contribution to the economy as well as the creation of new job opportunities in the ICT and the digital arts sector.

Malta’s vision for video games development and esports is aimed at helping companies already residing in Malta to further expand their operations and attract new game studios from abroad. The industry currently employes around 200 employees. Malta’s vision for video games development is aimed at expanding the industry’s contribution from 0.1% to 1% of the GDP in 10 years, whilst creating up to 3,000 new jobs’, explained Parliamentary Secretary Schembri.

Schembri emphasised that one of the main pillars in the strategy is in fact education. ‘The video games business model is structurally different from igaming and game developers need industry-led and sector-specific expertise and support to be able to grow. Hence, after discussions with key stakeholders, we sought to take significant educational initiatives to sustain the existent talent pool, cater for the needs of the industry, and make it easier for future generations to pursue a career in this thriving sector which is expected to continue to grow in the coming years’, said Parliamentary Secretary Schembri. Consultation on these initiatives will continue in the coming weeks with all stakeholders.

He also highligthed that esports is also central to Malta’ vision on developing its digital economy, where efforts are underway to help attract international esports tournaments to Malta. To this end, a memorandum of understanding was signed between ESL and the Government of Malta through the GamingMalta Foundation. The MoU will serve as an intent for both parties to develop a multi-year programme to help the development of the local grassroot esport ecosystem, the organisation of local and international events, as well as the sharing of expertise in the sector.

In reaction to the signing of this MoU, 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, Mr Jacob Visser described this 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. ‘Let’s do it together’, said Jacob Visser.

Malta’s vision for the video games development and esports sector includes several strategical initiatives such as a European model for tax rebates and grants to firms, Direct Grant Schemes for Innovation, a fund for the development of video games with a cultural dimension, the development of a Venture Capital Investment Fund, Investment to support the University of Malta and MCAST in upgrading their curricula, and investment in new facilities required for game-development related courses. It also includes a bursary programme to attract local and foreign graduate students to further their studies with local institutions whilst working in the industry, as well as incubator space for games development startups.

Source: Government of Malta