Seeing that video games are becoming the dominant form of entertainment across the world, many countries look to innovate and develop this industry forward. One of these countries is none other than Malta which lately, has made great efforts to bring more game developers to the island. Not too long ago, Malta launched its “Vision for game development and Esports” which, as the name suggests, focuses greatly on Esports and video game production. Its main focus is to encourage its current gaming companies to expand further as well as attracting other game developers to the island. While Malta’s main focus relies upon the iGaming Industry, bringing in new talent and experience with video game development will be able to compliment and help the growth of the already existing gaming industry on the island.
The European Hub for Gaming
Continuous efforts are being made so that Malta can remain as the number one pillar of the iGaming industry with plans to improve regulations and open the doors for more gaming possibilities. In 2004, the island became the first state in the European Union to regulate online gaming, and over time, the sector has evolved into a gaming global hub. In terms of territory, and population, it is the smallest state in the EU, but because of its proximity to the mainland, it has become a major hub of conducting international business. Malta has dubbed itself “Smart Island” because of its strong focus on ICT (information and communication technologies) and knowledge-based industries. ICT refers to technologies that focus on communication including the internet, wireless networks, cell phones, and communication mediums. Knowledge-based industries are the ones that are intensive in their inputs of technology and human capital, ICT services, electronics, and the environment industry.
The first online gaming business on the island arrived in the 1990s, almost at the same time as online casinos started to make their way online which later paved the way for popular brands such as Admiral Casino to also find their footing into the online gaming space. Malta was the first state to allow commercial operators to enter the gaming market at the time when it became the first state to regulate online gaming operators, back in 2000. Malta believes that an operator licensed on the island should be allowed to provide services across European states. This has proven to be difficult, as many states are implementing their own regulations on online gambling, others go as far as to ban them entirely. Other countries approach this issue in a different way, such as allowing online casino companies to operate in the country as long as they have been granted a license to operate in the said country.
The Challenges of Game Development
One of the biggest challenges in the future of the iGaming industry is finding and hiring the best IT experts, which will play a major role in further management of the industry. Because Its resources are very limited locally, it becomes a necessity to encourage people to move to Malta. This can only be done if Malta remains an attractive destination for people from other countries for its quality of life and high standard of living. As the local economy continues to evolve, new challenges have appeared. To combat them, the iGaming European Network has been established so that solutions to these new challenges can be found. The need for talent in the IT department continues to grow in Malta and many companies are forced to rely on recruiting talent outside of the country. The island’s main appeal for game developers is the ease of doing business in a supportive regulatory environment. Not only the iGaming industry is benefiting from the country’s open-minded environment, but regular video game developers, and gamers as well, with many of them relocating to Malta to benefit from the high quality of life present on the island.
Video games can prove to be a great benefit for the iGaming industry such as helping to provide a more pleasurable experience for the player and also allow for more creativity to how iGaming products can be developed. As mentioned, a major problem facing the gaming industry in Malta is the lack of talent. Because game development is a highly-technical industry, it requires very specific skills and knowledge to be developed. The production quality of video games is much higher than that of IGaming, therefore the may serve as good inspiration to increase the level of quality of iGaming products such as roulette, blackjack, poker and others. Both industries are technologically similar and so, further development of one of them could have a great benefit on the other forming a positive relationship between the two, bringing them closer and closer together.
The Future of iGaming in Malta
Like many other businesses and industries around the world, cryptocurrencies are the next major step. This is true for the iGaming industry as well. Many casino operators have shown great interest in exploring the idea of accepting cryptocurrencies, with some operators looking to partner up to existent blockchain providers. Recently, the sandbox framework has been put into place to test the waters of cryptocurrencies and blockchain, however, in a controlled environment. Besides this, the main goal for Malta is for it to be seen as a well-regulated sector in the iGaming industry with a major focus on innovation. Since the industry is greatly influenced by blockchain technology, this can be seen as the next major step of innovation for Malta and position the island as “blockchain island” alongside the previous term “smart island”. As generations of players come and go, the gaming environment shifts and changes. This requires the country to be as forward-thinking as possible and can properly respond to these changes.