eSports have evolved into a thriving industry, boasting superstars, highly followed competitions, and a colossal amount of money invested in it. Traditionally, the biggest market for online video games has been in Europe and East Asia, but the landscape is shifting, and new players are emerging on the global stage. Enter the Middle East, a region that is currently scripting a new chapter in the history of eSports, and is poised to claim its throne as the next world hub of competitive gaming in the coming years.
An ideal breeding ground
The numbers speak for themselves. A study conducted by Newzoo indicates that the Middle East and North Africa region is poised to become a global eSports mecca, with a projected total audience of over 318 million players by 2025.
This surge in eSports has evidently not materialized out of thin air but is fueled by a storm of factors that make the Middle East an ideal breeding ground for this digital spectacle. Anton Vasilenko, co-founder and CEO of True Gamers, affirm that the young demographic and government backing are the secret ingredients backing this astronomical growth. “Establishing specialized cybersport infrastructure such as arenas, clubs, and training centers could further accelerate the pace, significantly impacting the industry’s growth and community engagement,” he explained to Arabian Business. With a strategic investment plan of $13.5 million earmarked for developing gaming centers in the UAE alone, the True Gamers company aims to transform the nation’s gaming infrastructure over the next 4-5 months.
— Sheraa Sharjah (@sheraasharjah) July 16, 2023
Saudi Arabia’s sights set on the industry
However, True Gamers is not the only player in this arena. Saudi Arabia is also setting out to gain a foothold in the industry, investing heavily under the umbrella of Savvy Games Group, a 100%-owned subsidiary of the $650 billion Public Investment Fund. Backed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Savvy aims to become the ultimate global center for games and e-sports in just seven years, armed with a $38 billion treasure trove. The kingdom plans to attract 250 gaming companies and studios, create 39,000 video game-related jobs and contribute 1% to Saudi GDP. Its gaming strategy extends beyond its borders, with investments in global giants such as Tencent, Nintendo, Activision Blizzard and Ubisoft. With 70% of its 36 million inhabitants under the age of 35, and a self-confessed gamer in Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s gaming community has no shortage of potential.
#Gamers8 is here in Riyadh to take your gaming experience to the next level. From Fortnite to Rocket League and Tekken7, enjoy the biggest gaming and Esports festival in the world. pic.twitter.com/Ld3WidM8SC
— CIC Saudi Arabia (@CICSaudi) July 16, 2023