A road to make Saudi Arabia a global centre for gaming and Esports

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Saudi Arabia plans to become the leading market in the gaming and esports industry by 2030. In its run, the Saudi Esports Federation is organizing several esports events and festivals to boost the process. Gamers8 is playing a bigger role here and has a great impact on Saudi Arabia’s gaming market. Gamers8, the world’s largest gaming and esports event based in Saudi Arabia, is currently taking place in Riyadh at the heart of Saudi Arabia.

The eight-week event started this July and will run till September 2023. Several popular mobile and PC esports titles are featured in the event with an enormous amount of $45 million total prize pool. In its eight-week-long journey, the event will also arrange music and gaming festivals where famous musicians will perform live. Recently, PMWI 2023 and PMRC 2023 MEA v EU ended, and both were featured at the event.

Saudi Esports Federation and Gamers8 Impact on the Saudi Gaming and Esports market

The Saudi government established its esports federation in late 2017. The federation works as the regulating body to nurture esports players and work closely in developing the community of gamers and the gaming industry in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Esports Federation has two mainstream goals, one is to develop esports and gamers from the grassroots community to make them professional athletes so that global success can be achieved.

Secondly, the federation concerns the whole gaming world altogether for its development. So far, multiple world-class national and international tournaments and events are organized by this governing body (such as Gamers8) and it also gains attention from international investors and game developers and impacts in a positive way to make the investors and developers shift to the Saudi market.

Gamers8 2023 at Riyadh Saudi Arabia, Gamers8 impact Saudi gaming Esports
Image via Gamers8

The plan is to make Saudi Arabia a global centre for gaming and esports hub by 2030. In doing so, His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs announced the National Gaming and Esports Strategy. With Vision 2030 ahead, the Saudi government has plans to make the Saudi market a global leading sector in gaming. This will pave the way to create new jobs and world-class entertainment for citizens and international tourists.

Saudi Arabia is targeting to grab the massive gaming and esports market

The gaming industry has a value estimated at $245.10 billion currently. And by 2028, the total value will touch almost $400 billion while Statista says it to reach a market volume of $521.6 billion in 2027. And, mobile game industry has a large portion of it. In 2022, smartphone games accounted for 45 percent of video gaming revenue worldwide.

Another report by Statista says mobile game revenue is projected to reach $286.50 billion in 2023 and, with an annual growth rate of 7.08%, will reach the projected market volume of $376.70 billion by 2027. The rising graph of mobile games and esports industry value shows that the potential leader in the gaming and esports industry has a huge opportunity to proceed with economic advancements. And Saudi Arabia is exactly en route to achieving that.

Image via Gamers8

Apart from the gaming industry, the market value of esports is an emerging sector and the fastest-growing one among all media sectors. Statista reported that, in 2022, the global esports market was valued at just over 1.38 billion U.S. dollars. Additionally, the esports industry’s global market revenue was forecast to grow to as much as 1.87 billion U.S. dollars in 2025. Asia and North America currently represent the largest esports markets in terms of revenue, with China alone accounting for almost one-fifth of the market. Saudi Arabia is looking to be the geographical link between the East and West. Connecting them will explode the value of the Saudi market as well.

Industry-leading partnerships and acquisition is backing Vision 2030

The action plan taken by Saudi Arabia has already started to prove that they’re on the right track. In January 2022, Amazon along with Saudi Arabia and UAE, partnered with MENATech, a GGTech Entertainment Group company, and launched Amazon University Esports to bring out new talent, promote the league, etc. More than 130 Universities across the Middle East region have gathered in the league. As it is supported by the Saudi Esports Federation, big gaming companies like Riot Games and Garena already joined as partners in the league.

Public Investment Fund stakes in Nexon
ESL and FACEIT were acquired by the Savvy Gaming Group backed by PIF

Saudi Public Investment Fund-backed company Savvy Gaming Group purchased Electronic Sports League (ESL) for $1 billion in January 2022. Previously, FACEIT was also acquired by the same company for $500 million. With plans to merge both ESL and FACEIT, it marked Saudi Arabia as one of the industry’s most prominent future leaders. Saudi Arabia also plans to build a $500M esports city project.

The esports city is a significant development for the esports industry in Saudi Arabia,” said Mohammed AlQahtani, the CEO of Saudi Arabia Holding Co., one of the Kingdom’s major private equity firms. With everything going on, Saudi’s goal is not far away. The current Gamers8 is a part of the long journey which will greatly lay its impact the Saudi gaming market.

The impact of Gamers8 in Saudi Arabia a Global Center for the Gaming and Esports market

Gamers8 is currently the largest gaming and esports event featuring a $45 million prize pool. The event has taken a distinct position already just in two years. Leading esports games and players are hovering in the event and the social media bursts both positively and negatively. Saudi Arabia’s stand against the LGBTQ+ community raised controversies, and it has affected the Gamers8 event a little. However, the successful run in its first edition provided backing for this year’s Gamers8 at Riyadh.

Besides featuring esports events, Gamers8 also unveiled its Gamers8 Club Awards last June. It will reward clubs that will accumulate the most points across all tournaments hosted at Gamers8 2023. A $5 million prize pool will be awarded to the teams. Gamers8 Club Awards Ceremony will be held on the 30th and 31st of August in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Gamers8 is a step towards Saudi’s Vision 2030. There will be many more ahead. And, the attention gathered from Gamers8 will be a headstart for the aim to achieve. We look forward to watching the run and hope that the gaming industry will be more dynamic and developed. Besides, how Gamers8 will impact on Saudi gaming market will be another interesting thing to watch.

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