PETALING JAYA: The Ministry of Communications and Multimedia Malaysia (K-KOMM) through the Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MDEC) has managed to help numerous digital creative content companies to develop new content or market existing content in animation, interactive media, and digital games, among others through its Digital Content Grant (DCG) initiative.

To date, it has approved 55 projects worth over RM34.5 million since 2016. Among the projects developed by the recipients of the grants include Didi & Friends by DD Animation Sdn Bhd, Ejen Ali the Movie by Wau Animation Sdn Bhd, and AstroLOLogy the animation by Lemon Sky Animation Sdn Bhd. Ejen Ali the Movie has clinched the record as the highest-grossing local animated film with a domestic box office collection of RM30.05 million.

The DCG was introduced in 2016 and is aimed at assisting Malaysian digital content companies with a minimum paid-up capital of RM20,000. This year, companies can apply for either a grant worth up to RM300,000 for development costs or up to RM500,000 for intellectual property (IP) marketing and licensing costs.

The grant is among the first of a series of grants that are tailored for the digital creative content industry as it is a high-growth industry. It is a key focus area under MyDigital and K-KOMM is committed to ensuring the industry receives the support it needs to remain competitive.

$!MDEC CEO Mahadzir Aziz

MDEC CEO Mahadhir Aziz said the grant has been utilised to fund major projects that have been successful around the world such as Rhythm Doctor by 7th Beat Games which received a highly positive rating from Steam.

“The grant addresses the issue of early-stage funding, traditionally the riskiest portion of IP development. It creates opportunities for Malaysian creators to pitch for bigger projects with higher commercial value. At present, funding in this space is limited, with the bulk of funding only available to established studios and originates from publishing /distribution channels. The DCG enables a more inclusive aspect, creating opportunities for not just the bigger studios in Malaysia to participate, but also is a platform for newer entrants to the industry.

“Another unplanned outcome was the 2019 success of animation IPs which are Ejen Ali: The Movie which recorded over RM30 million in value at the box office while Upin & Ipin: Keris Siamang Tunggal recorded over RM26 million domestically. Both movies were MDEC grant recipients in one form or another over the past 10 years,” Mahadhir told SunBiz.

He added that other outcomes of the DCG include the increasing prevalence of non-entertainment IPs and content creation such as simulation, VR/AR, virtual production, and game engine used in other realms of creative tech. Moreover, there is a potential in enterprise solutions, particularly gamification, virtual production, and games & content on decentralised technologies and Web 3.0.

“The long-term goal for DCG would be the showcase that the Malaysian government has shown a long-term commitment to building the digital content sector. This consistency has made Malaysia a leading regional hub for IP and content creators,” added Mahadhir.

$!Ejen Ali: The Movie was a huge hit grossing over RM30 million at the box office.

Wau Animation co-founder and CEO Usamah Zaid Yasin (Ejen Ali)

The Digital Content Grant (DCG) plays a pivotal role in growing the success of our IP, Ejen Ali, as it is being channelled into the making of Ejen Ali: The Movie 2 (EATM2), following the accomplishments of our prior movie which became the highest grossing local movie of 2019, as well as the highest grossing local animation movie of all time.

Metal Brain Studio company director Charlie Chan Kam Wai (Oko Lele)

As of now, Oko Lele has amassed 100 million views monthly, 1.36 million subscribers and 1.5 billion views of the entire series. We are currently working on production up until episode 75 and we aim for over 100 episodes to air by next year.

We never thought a Malaysian-made animation can amass fans and audiences from all around the world, like SEA, India, Mena, Russia, Japan, America, Brazil, and European countries. We have Youtube reactions and imitation videos done by fans and products offering co-promotions. We even have a cake house in Brazil that make a cake out of our animation characters.

$!MDEC’s Digital Content Grant (DCG) has helped Malaysian creators to pitch for bigger projects with higher commercial value.

Kurechii founder and director Yiwei P’ng (King’s League II)

We didn’t plan to grow so rapidly, but the success of the game drive us to grow and adapt. Experiences that we gained from producing the prototypes and playable demos proved to be extremely useful when we scale up the content and converted it into a highly polished game.

King’s League II is published on Apple Arcade, one of the most prestige gaming platforms in the world. Only 100 games get selected when Apple first launched Apple Arcade in 2019, Kurechii / King’s League II is one of them.

Magnus Games Studio managing director Gan Dong Chee (Re:Legend)

Magnus Games Studio would not be where it is today if it were not for DCG. Programmes such as DCG are hugely beneficial for the entire local digital creative content industry. It serves as a bridge for small studios to connect with the entire local ecosystem of creators and other stakeholders. It is very encouraging to see smaller companies getting funds to kickstart their projects.

Apart from just the funding, the grants provide us with opportunities to expose our talents at a global scale. The world is able to learn that Malaysia is a force to be reckoned with within the creative industry, and we are capable of producing content that wins global awards and is consumed by millions of people from different countries. Our longer-term objective is not just to succeed as a single company, but to succeed as an entire ecosystem where we are able to support each other and grow exponentially.