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Gaming gold rush in Gulf

IFM_ Gaming gold rush
The fact that mobile games are primarily supported by advertising is one reason why the MENA prefers them to PC and console gaming

The gaming market is emerging as one of the fastest-growing industries in the MENA region. The MENA market is expanding at an impressive 25% annually, which is three times faster than China’s 8% average. In the Middle East, about 60% of people identify as gamers, with mobile gaming accounting for 65% of the region’s gaming activity. In fact, compared to 40% globally, games account for up to 50% of all apps downloaded in the region, according to a recent Boston Consulting Group (BCG) report that analyses the MENA gaming market.

The video game industry has grown to become the second largest in the entertainment sector, with a market value of about $185 billion and expectations for more steady growth in the medium term. Particularly in recent years, the GCC has emerged as a hotspot, attracting new participants and supporters as well as a sizable presence from investors and business players. Broader appeal, including mobile gaming, which attracts players of all ages in Middle Eastern markets, is what’s fuelling the gaming industry’s growth.

As the demographic group most likely to spend as much time playing video games as watching videos, children and young adults continue to make up a sizable portion of the gaming audience. The fact that mobile games are primarily supported by advertising is one reason why the MENA prefers them to PC and console gaming. The majority of mobile games are thus available to players of all financial means for free.

More game developers are offering top-tier mobile versions of games that were previously only available on PCs or consoles now that mobile phone technology is advanced enough to offer high-quality graphics and processing. According to estimates, the gaming market in the MENA region generated $4 billion in revenue, with Saudi Arabia leading the way with a market worth $18 billion, or roughly 45% of the overall value. Saudi Arabia emerged as the market leader for video games in the Middle East and North Africa.

The report emphasises Saudi Arabia’s position as a successful entertainment market because of its effective gaming strategies, which include an investment of $38 billion and the creation of 40,000 new jobs by the year 2030. In order to diversify their economies and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, the Middle East, and the GCC countries in particular, are racing to become competitive in new technologies. The GCC nations have all created ambitious plans to quickly develop industries like technology, finance, and tourism while reinvesting the enormous profits from oil exports.

Meanwhile, the DMCC report titled ‘Future of Trade 2023 Gaming in the MENA: Geared for Growth’ revealed that the region’s gaming industry is reaping substantial returns.

“Among the most closely watched segments is esports, which is expected to post revenue growth of 23.3% between 2019 and 2024 in MENA. Fuelling this is the region’s young demographic, engagement from international broadcasters and sponsors, and government support,” Ahmed bin Sulayem, executive chairman and CEO of DMCC, said during an interaction with Arab News.

Esports Infrastructure and Investment

The development of esports infrastructure and increased investment can also be credited with the rising popularity of mobile games in the GCC esports scene. Investors, sponsors, and esports organisations have all realised the enormous potential of mobile gaming and its capacity to draw more players. In order to create esports arenas, gaming lounges, and training facilities throughout the GCC, sizable investments have been made. Players can compete professionally, hone their skills, and interact with the larger esports community on a platform made available by these special venues.

Additionally, there are now opportunities for mobile gamers to pursue a career in competitive gaming thanks to the expansion of professional esports teams and leagues in the area. Mobile games have also been embraced by GCC-based esports leagues and competitions, such as the Gamers Without Borders programme and the Arab Esports Championship, which host high-profile events that draw both domestic and foreign players.

These contests not only have sizable prise pools, but they also help the GCC’s mobile gaming industry develop. It is also important to note that Saudi Arabia is launching a significant esports competition under the Gamers8 brand, with a mind-blowing prise pool of $45 million. The list of announced tournaments for this event includes a variety of games, including the well-known mobile title PUBG Mobile. The sizable prise pool highlights the community in the area even more.

In the most recent Mobile Legends Bang Bang Showdown and Moonton collaborative Esport tournament, team “Rise It Serious” placed an outstanding second. One of the team’s main players, AXE_Alshi7i, thanked for serving as a platform and the tournament organisers, saying, ‘First of all, I would like to thank for their excellent organisation skills and coordination. This beautifully organised tournament provided my team and me with an opportunity to showcase our skills and identify areas where we can improve as a team.’

Mobile Games and the Future of GCC Esports

“In my opinion, the accessibility factor is the main driving force behind the growth of mobile games in the esports scene. It’s much easier for players to practise on their phones, find teammates, and participate in tournaments. The convenience and availability of mobile gaming have opened doors for a larger number of players to get involved in competitive gaming,” AXE_Alshi7i said, when discussing the rise of mobile games in the esports scene, reported.

However, XE_Alshi7i voiced his scepticism when asked if he thought mobile gaming would eventually eclipse the traditional gaming scene, saying, “I highly doubt that the mobile scene will overshadow the gaming scene. While mobile games have gained significant popularity and have their own advantages, console and PC games will always have their own unique style and feel. I believe that mobile gaming will remain a significant part of the esports landscape, but it will not outgrow the traditional gaming platforms.”

“The Mobile Legends tournament provided us with valuable experience and helped us identify areas where we can improve as a team. I am confident that mobile gaming will continue to flourish in the esports scene, alongside traditional gaming platforms. With the support of platforms like and the dedication of players, the mobile esports scene in the GCC will continue to thrive,” XE_Alshi7i said, while acknowledging the positive impact of the Mobile Legends tournament.
Research and statistics back up a number of the main reasons for the rise of mobile games in the GCC esports scene. Rapid technological advancements combined with the affordability and accessibility of mobile devices have opened up esports to a larger audience.

Furthermore, the GCC’s cultural significance and social acceptance of gaming have contributed to the growth of mobile games, which enable players to participate in esports on their own terms.

The expansion of esports infrastructure and greater investments in the area has given mobile gaming a strong base on which to grow. It is anticipated that the popularity of mobile games in the esports scene will continue to soar, drawing more players, sponsors, and fans as the GCC region continues to invest in esports and embrace mobile gaming.

The growth of mobile gaming is undoubtedly linked to the future of esports in the GCC, and it will significantly alter the competitive gaming scene in the area for years to come.

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