By going virtual, Level Up Spacebar has created a “borderless opportunity” for Southeast Asian games to go global

  • Going virtual has allowed Level Up to tap wider global participation
  • Upcoming event to include business matching opportunities, talks from top industry experts

MDEC initially expected only 50 business participants, but now, they have secured about 500.

It was only a few days ago that, all across the world, 7.3 million people tuned in to the online reveal live stream of the Sony PlayStation 5. The unveiling of the new console is a testament of two things – that virtual launch events can gather just as much hype and attention; and that gaming is a cultural juggernaut that has worldwide reach.

Yes, the Covid-19 pandemic has essentially put all major gaming events – E3, Tokyo Game Show, and even the inaugural Gamescom Asia – on hold. But as the PS5 announcement is anything to go by, virtual gaming events have equally far reaches.

With this in mind, the upcoming Level Up Play-One and Spacebar – the virtual satellite event of Malaysia’s Level Up KL – has the chance to not only bring more games into the burgeoning region, but to showcase Southeast Asia’s upcoming offerings.

By going virtual, Level Up Spacebar has created a “borderless opportunity” for Southeast Asian games to go global“Level Up provides a platform for the general public and youth to better understand the opportunities in the games and content industry,” says Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC)’s vice president of Digital Creative Content Hasnul Hadi (pic, right). MDEC is the organiser of Level Up KL.

“It is almost a ‘borderless opportunity’ more so now, considering how we are becoming more tuned to online or virtual engagements because of the pandemic, as we call it – the new normal.”

In a virtual press conference preceding the events, which kicked off on 13 and 14 June for the public, Hasnul states that in 2019, approximately US$152 billion (RM647 billion) revenue was made globally in the video games industry, making it a sector that is even larger than film and animation TV.

Of that, 48% was generated from Asia Pacific, with Southeast Asia being a widely recognised destination for games development.

“Malaysia’s market size is about US$697 million (RM3 billion) with revenues largely driven by smart phone games, followed by a rapidly growing console games segment,” Hasnul adds.

“The Malaysian government is keen to actively develop this sector as a key economic stream leveraging growth in the region, and existing national competitive advantage to further build local capabilities and enhance export opportunities,” he says.


Going virtual

By going virtual, the Level Up events are already seeing more global participation. Hasnul notes that there are attendees from as far as Russia and Poland.

Level Up Play One, which was held over the weekend, is designed to connect the general population to the video games industry. It was facilitated with partnerships that include Astro’s eGG Network to extend selected broadcast streams around Malaysia.

But perhaps the more significant event is Level Up Spacebar, set to happen on 16 to 17 June. “This deal-making platform allows the business community to network and establish industry opportunities – from jobs (projects) to publishers to developers, investors and other industry players in a seamless manner,” says Mohan Low, MDEC head of Digital Interactive Games.

“Our previous event format has been one-day, and this year, we initially expected only 50 business participants, but now, we have secured about 500.”

MDEC believes that Level Up Spacebar is on track to become a premier platform for networking, industry acceleration and partnerships – one that is fuelled by the Malaysian government’s PENJANA economic recovery plan.

The games industry can benefit from the boost through PENJANA’s allocation of US$52.69 million (RM225 million) – and, in the midst of it, Spacebar serves as a chance for the country to identify potential synergies that can drive MDEC”s digital disruption goals forward, especially in the arena of gaming.


A platform to connect

As with the Level Up KL events before this, which were held physically, Spacebar can stimulate the growth of the industry’s ecosystem while breaking down negative perceptions that have always plagued the entertainment form.

MDEC notes that this is an opportunity for driving responsible growth – IP or governance, export frameworks, sustainable talent development and such – for the country.

Level Up Spacebar will have business matching opportunities, on top of a showcase of games and demonstrations plus career development and matching

More significant, however, are the industry talks and panel discussions, which features the likes of Shuhei Yoshida, Sony Interactive Entertainment’s head of Indies Initiative (formerly the president of SIE Worldwide Studios) as well as Roblox’s head of Developer Community Justin Sousa.

Speakers that are closer to home include Ng Aik Sern, founder and president of Passion Republic; and Pontus Mahler, the head of Global Business Development with GTR Accelerator Thailand. Event partners such as Alibaba Cloud and game tools like Unity and Unreal Engine will also feature talks that aid game developers.

MDEC feels that the mobile-first nature of SEA’s games market means that publishers with a focus on mobile games have the opportunity to dominate. The region’s mobile games market boasts revenues of US$2.6 billion according to Newzoo with a year-on-year growth of +17.4%, thus making SEA the fastest-growing mobile games market in the world.

More details on Level Up Spacebar can be found at

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