SINGAPORE: Singapore has several measures in place supporting start-ups and companies in the burgeoning video gaming and e-sports industry, which has seen success stories such as Razer, Sea and Secretlab, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing on Wednesday (Sep 4).
There are both financial and non-financial support measures aimed at helping companies grow and the Government also has plans to foster a robust talent pool and vibrant ecosystem in Singapore, said Mr Chan.
The Government is working to build "international mindshare" as well, said Mr Chan, by playing host to the first Asian edition of gamescom – the world's largest gaming festival – next year.
Mr Chan outlined these approaches in Parliament, in response to a question by Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Leon Perera.
Mr Perera had asked about the measures taken to nurture local start-ups and talent in the two industries, as well as results from the efforts.
Amid rapid growth, the video games and e-sports industries generated more than US$140 billion (about S$194 billion) globally last year. Almost half of this came from the Asia-Pacific, said Mr Chan.
The development and distribution of video games in Singapore contributed S$1.95 billion in 2017.
Among the contributions were that from activities by foreign companies with operations in Singapore, such as French video games group Ubisoft and Japanese video game maker Bandai Namco, as well as local firms like Internet company Sea and mobile game publisher GoGame.
“Sea, formerly known as Garena, is one of Singapore’s unicorns and first made its mark through its platform for video games,” he said.
“The games industry has also catalysed the growth of other companies in the ecosystem, such as Razer and Secretlab, which are globally prominent lifestyle brands amongst gamers today.
“Government agencies have been supporting local startups and companies in this space,” said Mr Chan, adding that Singapore is building on such successes through several ways.
First, when it comes to helping companies grow, the Startup SG initiative – launched in 2017 – provides a range of financial and non-financial support options like mentorship and start-up capital support through the Startup SG Founder programme.
There are also sector-specific initiatives. One example is the Infocomm Media Development Authority’s (IMDA) PIXEL innovation space, which offers incubation and co-working spaces for digital start-ups.
Second, the country is deepening its capabilities by building a robust talent pipeline for the video games industry.
Courses in this area are available at Nanyang Polytechnic and local game school DigiPen Institute, said Mr Chan.
The IMDA also works with the Economic Development Board to attract internationally acclaimed studios to provide a platform for entrepreneurs to gain experience before starting their own studios.
Turning to the cultivation of a vibrant and enabling ecosystem here, Mr Chan talked about how game engine company Unity Technologies has been supporting gaming start-ups at PIXEL with mentorship, workshops and technical support since 2018.
“This ecosystem has supported companies like BattleBrew Productions, founded by a DigiPen graduate, and whose first mobile game IP won the Visitor’s Choice Award at the GameStart Asia 2018 convention,” he said.
Lastly, Singapore has also been building “international mindshare”, said the minister.
Hyperplay – the region’s first e-sports and music festival held in Singapore last year during the country's chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – was attended by more than 8,000 youths of different backgrounds.
It also featured the first ASEAN tournament of popular game League of Legends, said Mr Chan.
The country will also host the first Asian edition of Gamescom in 2020.
“The Singapore edition will let our video games companies showcase their capabilities and connect with prospective investors, collaborators and buyers,” he said.
The Singapore Tourism Board will continue to look out for other major events that can be hosted in Singapore, so as to further augment the country’s position as a video games and e-sports hub in the region, he added.