What the future holds for the game industry in Saudi Arabia?

Cover Photo by Fredrick Tendong on Unsplash

Saudi Arabia’s gaming market grew over 22% in 2021, bringing its value to over $1 billion and making it one of the fastest-growing gaming markets in the world. While markets in North America and Europe have traditionally dominated the video game and Esports sector, Saudi Arabia’s cutting-edge telecommunications infrastructure, educated labor force, and rapidly diversifying economy make it a desirable location for the next generation of games development studios.

Infrastructure & Support

Most people know Saudi Arabia for its oil and gas industry. Due to its 16% share of the world’s oil reserves, KSA has earned this well-deserved reputation. Consequently, there has been substantial investment into the infrastructure and well-funded initiatives by the government to encourage private sector growth in the technology sector.

Saudi Arabia has placed a high priority on digital infrastructure, with 5G now available in over half of the kingdom. As an example of the success of private sector investments, average download speeds for the top telecommunication providers have reached 370.12 Mbps. Critical infrastructure like this is the bedrock for a burgeoning tech sector. With fast, reliable internet, any locally based team is guaranteed to work faster and more effectively with their colleagues in-country and abroad.

Gaming has also been a focus of The Kingdom’s “Vision 2030,” a strategic framework adopted by the Saudi Arabian government to diversify the economy and support the growing private sector across a host of modern industries. As part of this initiative, the Saudi Public Investment Funds (PIF) established Savvy Gaming Group (SGG), a gaming company that is poised to play a leading role in supporting the global gaming industry.

In 2022, SGG has already made waves in the industry by acquiring two major e-sports platforms, ESL Gaming and Faceit. The two businesses are set to merge into a single subsidiary that will focus on building competitive gaming communities with end-to-end solutions. In addition, the company intends to act as a partner for other gaming companies looking to expand into new markets. PIF plans to invest $40 billion into the Saudi economy per year, with a portion going to SGG and more widely to the tech sector.

A Domestic Market with Real Potential

There are many opportunities for building global brands in Saudi Arabia, but it also represents a ripe domestic market. Almost two-thirds of Saudis are under 35, and gaming has grown rapidly over the past several years due to the increased availability of digital infrastructure and the growing market saturation of mobile phones.

Around 67 percent of the population are avid gamers, which makes up 23.5 million gamers in KSA. As a highly developed and young country, Saudi Arabia offers a market full of already avid gamers with high spending power. This is partly why Saudi Arabia represents the 19th largest gaming market in the world.

Gateway to MENA

MENA’s three largest gaming markets – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates – are projected to generate $3.14 billion in gaming revenues and to host 85.76 million gamers by 2025. In spite of these encouraging predictions, companies in the gaming sector may still be hesitant to invest in the region due to language barriers or concerns about infrastructure. A stepping stone to the region as a whole, Saudi Arabia offers a perfect solution to these hesitations.

By investing in Saudi Arabia, companies can feel comfortable knowing they have access to highly reliable and cutting-edge digital and physical infrastructure. It is the perfect foundation for supporting global business, along with the Kingdom’s status as a major Arabic-speaking country that offers a wonderful opportunity for localization. Companies operating in Saudi Arabia will have access to an extensive pool of experts who are natively proficient in the local language and market, resulting in a greater opportunity to expand across the region and develop an exciting and thriving game industry.

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