Combination of physical and online presence a key factor
Actively seeking acquisitions in Turkey, US and Vietnam by year-end
WITHOUT much fanfare, Ganesh Kumar Bangah (pic) has built MOL Global into one of the world’s top five game payment companies. This is mainly because of its physical payment outlets that augment its online payments.
In the process, he has provided the stimulus for Malaysia to become one of the region’s largest game publishers.
“There are around 50 games publishers in the country and that is pretty good,” he notes. Internal industry stats show that the Malaysian gaming market generates between RM20 million and RM25 million (US$6.4 million and US$8.1 million) in revenue a month.
Ganesh claims MOL has 70% of this market. Overall MOL rakes in RM30 million (US$9.7 million) in revenue a month from gaming, from payment of the games but with the largest chunk coming from the virtual tokens and weapons avid players purchase to strengthen their hand in the virtual worlds they are engrossed in.
Thailand has around the same number of publishers; there are about 30 in Indonesia, 10 in the Philippines and fewer than 10 in Vietnam.
Now with a physical presence in seven Asian countries, including India, Ganesh plans to be in 10 countries by the end of the year, all via acquisitions. He is already in talks with game publishers in Turkey, the United States and Vietnam.
Here’s a surprising stat. Ganesh has found that once they establish a direct presence in country and start offering alternate payment choices through a physical presence, typically with cyber cafes and 7-11 outlets, they see a tripling in gaming spend within just a three-month period.
Thailand was the most recent example of this. “In fact, the monthly payments went from RM200,000 to RM4 million (US$64,450 to US$1.3 million) a month within 18 months of our acquisition of Zest Interactive in July 2011,” he says.
A key reason is because MOL brings in its offering of hundreds of games once it makes an acquisition. Gaming rights are just like any other content and bound by geographic or country licensing.
While MOL offers games itself, it also offers its increasing global presence to other publishers to leverage on. “Game publishers just have to license the games they like and feel have potential, and sign up with MOL to make their games available on our increasingly global platform,” Ganesh says.
One industry trend that is working in his favour is the increasingly thin line between Local Area Network (LAN) games and online games. This is mainly because broadband connectivity is getting better and the real-time experience has started to match that experienced when playing games that run over local leased broadband lines.
As a result, top games publishers such as Blizzard and Valve are increasingly bringing their games online and in the process requiring payment collections as well, both online and physical.
This is where the Pikom (the Association of the Computer and Multimedia Industry of Malaysia) hosting of the World Cyber Games Festival from Sept 7 to 9 comes into the picture.
“We are making some major announcements during that time about some relationships we have formed,” says Ganesh.
One added value of the World Cyber Games this year is that the Asian leg is also being hosted at the same time. This is a key reason for MOL to be a top level sponsor.
“We will introduce ourselves to all the national game champions of the respective Asian countries and once they go back, they will spread the word about MOL to their networks,” says Ganesh.
Indeed he is relying on this viral effect from the national champions as he says they already are influencers in their respective gaming communities. At the same time, Malaysian game publishers will also benefit as they will get to introduce their games to top gamers in the Asian region.
Next: Is it game over for local game developers? And what is this economic value that Ganesh is talking about? Why does innovation and creativity carry little value when it comes to online games? Click here.