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Malaysian AAA Game Studios: Shift to Blockchain “Inevitable”

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At Blockhead’s interview with Mohan Low, director of digital creative content at MDEC – the agency tasked with organizing and leading Malaysia’s digital economy forward – we discovered that Malaysia ranked 23rd globally for market share of the video games market, which is valued at US$214.2 billion (RM993 billion), with a forecasted growth rate of 8.4% (CAGR) to reach US$321.1 billion by 2026.

These big numbers had us wondering if local industry game developers were at all interested in blockchain tech and if they were motivated to venture into the blockchain side of the realm.

We spoke to approximately 35 game developers, from indie to global conglomerates, during the MDEC exhibition to find a barometer on blockchain gaming. We found mixed reactions from major AAA studios when gauging their interest and knowledge in blockchain gaming.

While some of the leading studios had exhibited some level of knowledge of blockchain tech, there were others that did not have any interest in blockchain development, simply because it was not in their purview or periphery. The indie game developers felt that blockchain was too difficult to implement into their games, and questioned why they should bother with web3 technology when everything they could do already exists in web2. Some even mentioned that GameFi ruins the ethos of games, that adding financial elements as the core proposition to games disrupts the essence of its enjoyment.

Related: Malaysia’s MDEC Goes on the Offensive, Announces Digital Facilitation Plans

While the overall sentiment was mixed, it was undeniable that the visionary leaders we spoke with had their eyes on the tech and were already making moves into the direction.

One AAA game studio revealed that it had already developed a blockchain team for R&D and are looking at ways for blockchain implementation into existing games. They were motivated here by the competitive nature of the gaming landscape, citing that NFTs advancements were going to be “the future.” However, they each collectively agreed that it was too far into the horizon for mass application and expected its importance for mainstream adoption to be within the next 5-10 years.

We also spoke to Xsolla, a multi tool payments solution for video game developers to fund, market, and monetize their games. Senior business development manager Elle Park noticed a large trend for NFT games in South Korea. Park found an increase in blockchain mobile game launches within the Asian region. In her personal capacity, 90% of the games that she encountered in South Korea had blockchain elements, giving her an optimistic outlook that NFTs and GameFi based games would eventually corner the Asian market.

This was also a sentiment echoed by game industry veteran Hasnul Hadi Samsuddin, who believes that NFT tech will play a vital role in the future. As an outsider looking in, Samsuddin said that the speculative nature of crypto has not painted the GameFi genre in a positive light. However, he undoubtedly believes that given more time for both the market and technology to mature, we will start to see NFT technology infiltrating our everyday lives.

Throughout our barometer check, blockchain games remain on the periphery of the gaming industry, though they will continue to remain there until a proven model emerges, citing blockchain knowledge as the hardest barrier to entry for AAA studios to enter the space.

However, this opens doors in the market for smart contract enablers to work together with AAA studios. As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.