November 3, 2022

MENA: A Thriving Region With Lots of Support for The Games Industry 

Learn more about what makes the MENA region the fastest growing mobile games market today ahead of Pocket Gamer Connects Jordan this November

By Adriana Martinez, Marketing Executive

Did you know that the MENA region is expected to reach over $5 billion by 2025?

We’ve already discussed the predicted exponential growth of the blockchain market in the region, and we’ve given you a glimpse into the overall market outlook. Today, we’re taking a closer look at exactly how the MENA region has been supporting the flourishing community of gamemakers in the area, and how this incredible support is paving the way for this region to be the fastest growing games market in the world.

We have an unmissable chance to join us there this November, and you won’t want to miss out! We’re returning to Jordan this November 12th to 13th for two incredible days of networking and sharing cutting-edge insights right on the shore of the glorious Dead Sea, and over 700 games industry professionals from all over the globe will be in attendance. We’ll be hearing from over 100 world-renowned speakers on all the hottest topics facing the games industry today, and we’ll have a number of matchmaking opportunities lined up for you to meet your dream business partner. Currently, we even have an exclusive limited time deal to secure your spot at our Jordan conference with a special discount! Head over to our official website to book your ticket today and save hundreds with our Early Bird discount, instantly applied at checkout. The clock is ticking!

Keep on reading to learn about the opportunities for gamemakers in the MENA region!

A Thriving Gaming Market

Expected to reach $5 billion by 2025 and currently valued at $1.78 billion, the MENA region has established itself as a key growth region in the global video games industry.

This incredible growth is attributed to increased spending by current gamers, time spent in-game by users and surging advertising revenue according to a report by RedSeer. This is being linked back to a growing interest from consumers that are typically underserved in the region, spanning various demographics such as females and Gen X, as well as the overall gaming market boom provided by the pandemic over the past few years and the prevalent youth population in the area.

Today, the MENA region’s domestic market is the fastest growing in the world, touting over 377 million estimated players – this is almost as many gamers as all of Europe combined (386 million) and much more than America (210 million).

Investing in the MENA Region

Online gaming players in the Middle East are starting to get familiar with NFTs and tokens in gaming, and within a developed gaming industry, it’s becoming an increasingly irresistible opportunity for global gaming companies. Vorto Games, the gaming company behind crypto-based video game Hash Rush, is bringing a ‘play to earn’ model to the MENA region where gamers can generate real NFTs via playing the game. Speaking on the decision, chief strategy officer Warren Sample noted the massive opportunity to capitalise in this specific region. “There is a lot of innovation development that is happening in the region and when you add a youthful population with new ways to socially connect, we think there is a very good alignment with what we are talking about.”

Today, the MENA region’s domestic market is the fastest growing in the world, touting over 377 million estimated players – this is almost as many gamers as all of Europe combined (386 million) and much more than America (210 million).

Further, Crypto Gaming United, the premier play-to-earn league, is actively growing its presence in the MENA region to push blockchain, NFT, DeFi, DAO, fintech, crypto-mining and next generation Web development. This expansion is promoting actively embracing the metaverse as a valid career choice in developing countries. CGU co-founder Sergei Sergienko spoke on the league’s decision to pursue the ample business opportunities in the region. “We are happy to contribute to a meaningful discussion of trends and opportunities in the metaverse, given that our business is growing so rapidly in the MENA region.”

Saudi Arabia’s Savvy Gaming Group, our partners for the upcoming PG Connects Leaders Summit Riyadh, plans to invest $38.7 billion into the games industry, including a $13 billion acquisition of a leading (but unnamed) games publisher. This major investment will include $18.6 billion focused on financing a variety of “key companies” to acquire minority stakes in support game development, and $481 million is reserved for investments in esports companies and “industry disruptors to grow early-stage games”. A further $4.8 billion will be invested in “mature industry partners.”

Esports have been a major growth focus in the region as well. Activision recently partnered with the Saudi Telecom Company to introduce dedicated servers hosted in Riyadh and Jeddah for Call of Duty. Riot Games, the masterminds behind League of Legends, established Middle East servers for their game Valorant in October 2020 and Zain Group launched a new esports brand to hold a series of regional online esports tournaments. These are just a few of the examples of the increased presence of esports in the region.

Just this February, Saudi Arabian tech hub NEOM announced a joint venture with Dubai-based MBC Group to form the first AAA games development studio in the area to produce high-production-value games for local, regional and international gamers. Currently, all eyes and ears are shifting towards the MENA market, and the surging numbers of players due to the prevalent number of youth in the region and the pandemic is only emphasising the demand for more game creation in the region.

Opportunities for growth are sprouting everywhere from the games community and for the games community in this area. There’s more and more local development talent sprouting and creating for the local players, with Tamatem, one of Jordan’s leading developers that was founded just in 2013, now having a total value of over $80 million while specialising in localising internationally renowned games to suit Arabic-speaking users.

Government-Backed Support

Much of the anticipated growth is expected to also stem from the government support across games and esports in the region.

Governments in the MENA region are particularly supportive of the video games sector, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE having introduced policies to encourage game localisation, local game development, new studios and offices of international game companies and hosting major esports tournaments to encourage growth in the sector.

Governments in the MENA region are particularly supportive of the video games sector, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE having introduced policies to encourage game localisation, local game development, new studios and more.

There’s been an abundance of positive news regarding policies embracing the growth of the gaming sector in this region, with developments as recent as of September 15th about the HRH crown prince unveiling the National Gaming and Esports Strategy marking the beginning of a new era towards leading the gaming sector and making Saudi Arabia the global hub for this sector by 2030 through his Vision 2030 objectives. The statement highlighted that “The National Gaming and Esports Strategy is driven by the creativity and energy of our citizens and gamers, who are at the heart of the strategy. We are delivering on the ambitions of the gaming community in Saudi Arabia and around the world, with an exciting new career, and unique entertainment opportunities; aiming to make Saudi Arabia the ultimate global hub for this sector by 2030” and later goes on to describe the objectives of this strategy being to raise the quality of life through improvement of the player experience, providing new entertainment opportunities and achieving an economic impact to the gross domestic product directly and indirectly. This development is massive when it comes to acknowledging the increasing presence of the gaming industry in the region, and the region’s commitment to playing a key role in the global gaming arena.

Another recent development for e-gaming in the Saudi Arabian region is The Game Changers Initiative led by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, a programme offering apprenticeship training and aiding participants to finding jobs in the gaming sector and establishing startups.

Even in areas still in their infancy when it comes to game development such as Africa, there has been a recent explosion of opportunity for gaming talent. The recent launch of Africa Game Developers Association boasts members from over 18 African countries, and it’s a leading organisation in encouraging the notable talent in the region to further their careers.

Institutional support when it comes to expanding the gaming sector felt throughout this region is palpable, and it’s why there’s no question about the growing importance of keeping an eye on this region and establishing connections here. PG Connects Jordan presents a prime opportunity to do just that.

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