The CEO of local gaming technology company International Alliance Systems Limited (IAS) told MNA that he believes Macau has all the elements to have a successful innovative gaming technology sector but that more pro-active government support is needed and more chances provided for young talents to carry our research and development.
Founded in 2014, International Alliance Systems Limited is one of the few local-born companies focused on gaming technology research and development have already patented some of its technologies abroad, including Hong Kong and the US.
Last year it officially launched its main product, GameSource, a platform that allows any pre-registered PC-based display device to be used as a player terminal, with a personalised interface, while allowing operators to choose from an array of certified slot, house, and virtual sports games.
Terminals using the technology are currently on trial at MGM Macau and still on test lab phase in two other undisclosed casinos.
According to the CEO of IAS, Anthony Ip, Las Vegas – the world’s second-largest gaming region after Macau – also incubates and promotes several companies in the gaming supply chain, including technology companies which then go to become global leaders.
“There are a couple of success factors that help this technology development[…] hey are close to the market and the people are there. People know what the market needs, they have the industry knowledge to help the market develop. The third is technology. They are close to the [San Francisco] Bay Area, so the people that know the industry will bring the technology.” Mr. Ip told MNA.
According to the local businessman after 20 years of the opening up of the local gaming market for foreign competitors, those same elements – proximity to the market and local and international talent – are already present in the city.
Then in order to breach out of the local market, local developers should follow the Chinese formula and focus on innovation, something that requires extensive research and development, an area that as many in the city suffers a common issue of lack of qualified human resources, especially local talents.
“We have two choices as a Macau company, follow the technology framework or business practices that have already been proven […] which is ok, you can still do a good product that fits this market but it will not enable Macau to go global, to export […] or change the market,” he noted.
“Innovation brings you to another level […] GameSource does that. We deploy cloud technology […] cloud happens everywhere in our lives and is already mature. Everyday we use Google, Dropbox or Amazon. It’s all about how to integrate technology into your business sector,” he stated.
The businessman notes that maybe some local talents who studied abroad and return to the city would be able to find work in a gaming company as IT either as product management or operations support but there are very few technology venture companies where they could put their efforts into innovation.
“It’s true that there are very few people working in the R&D field in Macau, but it’s true Macau has limited human resources however we have close to 100 people, mostly local. That proves our younger generation has that capacity. I would say that there are not enough technology companies to try and practice. We’re probably the only company putting an R&D centre in Macau.
Then, when it comes to government support, Mr. Ip – who has headed tech companies both in mainland China and Macau – considers that while Chinese authorities are “pro-active in their support” local authorities are “passive”
“Not that they don’t want to support you but that they don’t know how to support you […] In China there is a technology development bureau dedicated […] you don’t ask for the support, they will come to you and ask what support you want […] if you need human resources they will try and use their network to give you channels and help you[…] or help you cut tax,” he noted.
Concerning subsidies provided by Macau Economic Bureau (DSE) to entrepreneurs or startups, Mr. Ip considered they are mainly focused on very small operations or projects and that there was not a level of assistance in par with more developed companies such as IAS.
“I think Macau has the opportunity to become the second-largest gaming technology center after Las Vegas. We keep talking about economic diversification but in reality where are the opportunities? We need to get into the gaming supply chain,” Mr. Ip told MNA.