Generation Start-up: How Abu Dhabi's GAM3S.GG is democratising Web3 gaming

Launched in July last year, the start-up raised $2m last month to fuel growth

Omar Ghanem, co-founder and chief executive of GAM3S.GG. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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“Happiness is the precursor to success.”

The quote by American author Shawn Achor is fitting in the case of entrepreneur Omar Ghanem, who co-founded Abu Dhabi-based Web3 gaming company GAM3S.GG.

Launched in July last year, the start-up – formerly known as Polkastarter Gaming – offers curated Web3 gaming content, with more than 215 games listed across 15 chains, and over 80,000 registered gamers.

“The futuristic world of Web3 gaming always excites me … I am on a mission to democratise this industry and bridge the gap between the users and the technology, and I believe, success will follow us inevitably,” Mr Ghanem, 27, who is also chief executive of GAM3S.GG, tells The National.

Driven by his passion for blockchain-powered games and motivated by the need for a platform that simplifies the users’ Web3 gaming experience, Mr Ghanem first joined Lisbon-based decentralised fundraising platform Polkastarter in December 2021 to dive deeper into the world of Web3 and build an actual gaming community.

“That was when I realised how difficult and less rewarding the experience of getting into Web3 games was … so after lots of discussion, market research and community feedback, we decided to build a dedicated platform to help make Web3 gaming easier for my friends, and millions of gamers around the world,” he says.

“Our community essentially demanded us to build the platform as they needed a one-stop-shop for all their Web3 gaming needs rather than jumping back and forth between different social media platforms and websites.”

Before embarking on his entrepreneurial journey, Mr Ghanem worked at several Dubai-based social media agencies, serving clients including Nvidia, Ubisoft, Riot Games, Epic Games, Logitech and Activision.

He co-founded GAM3S.GG with Daniel Stockhaus, the co-founder of Polkastarter.

Mr Ghanem and Mr Stockhaus also roped in Mostafa Salem, a gaming journalist, as co-founding partner to expedite the company’s expansion. Mr Salem is also serving as head of gaming in the company.

Web3 has been described as a new kind of internet service based around decentralised applications, blockchain technologies and token-based economics. The Web3 gaming market size is predicted to hit $133.2 billion by 2033 from $23.9 billion this year, according to market research and consulting company Future Market Insights.

GAM3S.GG says it is building the gaming hub to enable newcomers and professional gamers to explore new frontiers and experiences on a single Web3 gaming superapp. It intends to build advanced features to eliminate barriers to entry for blockchain games, including social logins, player-owned item management, progression rewards, in-game progress tracking, as well as directly playing Web3 games on the platform.

It aims to create content to shed light on the top blockchain-powered games, offer reviews, guides, news, quests, annual awards and much more.

The company is also a member of AD Gaming, the entity responsible for developing the gaming and e-sports industry in Abu Dhabi.

In December, the platform hosted the first GAM3 Awards. Attracting more than 140,000 unique viewers casting 250,000 votes, the streamed event was and one of the largest Web3 game award shows, he says.

“Currently, there are over 3.1 billion gamers worldwide and around 2 million crypto wallets that interact with gaming projects and apps … the gap and clear opportunity are right in front of us as more traditional gamers shift towards and continue to explore the potential of blockchain-powered games,” says Mr Ghanem, who originally hails from Egypt.

“These games let players actually own a skin [virtual items that players can accumulate to decorate characters] and receive tournament earnings instantly through decentralised exchanges … [the] idea is to give them [players] more control over their gaming journey.”

Huge studios and gaming companies such as Ubisoft, Zynga, Sega and Square Enix are also exploring the Web3 gaming space and building new experiences using the technology. Companies like PlayStation and Xbox are also registering patents for NFT (non-fungible tokens) transactions and reportedly exploring the technology behind closed doors.

“It is the single most obvious opportunity in the gaming industry today and has become a question of when rather than if,” says Mr Ghanem.

While the journey so far has been promising, fundraising proved to be challenging for GAM3S.GG in the beginning, given the macroeconomic conditions. Polkastarter supported the project in its initial months of inception.

However, GAM3S.GG managed to raise $2 million last month in a seed funding round.

The financing was led by Mechanism Capital with the participation of several venture and angel investors, including Polygon, Double Peak, LD Capital, ROK Capital, Hyperithm, Snackclub, Emurgo Ventures, Eden Ventures, SkyVision Capital, Venly Ventures, Compute Ventures, TKX Capital, 4SV, CommonWealth Capital and Mix Marvel Ventures.

GAM3S.GG's fresh capital will support operational and marketing costs, alongside critical hires and marketing activations.

“The team remains committed to building the best possible product that caters to the needs of their users, continuously striving to enhance the gaming experience,” says Mr Ghanem.

“We have not announced further investment plans yet, but if and once we do, it will be to take our platform an extra step closer to our objectives.”

The company’s current valuation stands at $20 million, he says.

Resistance to change within the gaming industry has also posed challenges as some players were sceptical about the Web3 technology's potential in enhancing the users’ gaming experience.

GAM3S.GG is focusing on educational content, as well as highlighting the best titles to address these concerns and capture the attention of traditional gamers, says Mr Ghanem.

Gaming has become big business globally, gaining traction during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, with new technology providing both an opportunity to reach a wider audience and develop new titles to cater to consumer demand.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE – the Arab world’s biggest economies – are at the forefront of the gaming industry in the Middle East, with their governments recognising the massive potential the growing market possesses, Boston Consulting Group said in its latest Game Changer report.

Revenue in the global gaming market is projected to hit $212.4 billion by 2026, a new study has shown.

The figure would be up by more than 13 per cent from an estimated $187.7 billion in 2023, which represents a 2.6 per cent increase from 2022, as gaming “is now fully embedded in the mainstream”, market data platform Newzoo said in its August market update.

There is no plan to exit the business as the founders intend to establish it in the long term with a strong foundation, says Mr Ghanem.

“As a gamer at heart, I can't imagine doing something better than what I am currently working on, so there is actually no reason or motivation to exit … and we are confident that we can build the best platform and dominate this space,” he says.

“Moreover, the industry is still in infancy, and I believe we have a long way to go and an incredibly challenging task of educating and onboarding more gamers into this space over the next few years.”

GAM3S.GG, which is not yet profitable, is in no hurry to become profitable as it is focused on growth and establishing a strong foundation.

“We are not profitable and not aiming to be [profitable] in the short-term as we are in extreme growth mode. All income generated is invested into growing the business further. Thanks to our incredible investors and already significant MRR (monthly recurring revenue), we have a runway for several years,” Mr Ghanem says.

Q&A with Omar Ghanem, co-founder and chief executive of GAM3S.GG

Are you a risk-taker or a cautious entrepreneur?

I am a calculated risk-taking entrepreneur. I believe you must always have the willingness to question the status quo and have an eye for potential opportunities that could open doors for you and your business … so I cannot say I am super cautious, because it would have been a lot less risky to simply work in traditional gaming or keep building within the social media marketing space.

If you could change one thing in your entrepreneurial journey, what would it be?

Nothing. I have been blessed to grow up in the UAE and have all the opportunities I had throughout my educational journey … I have had the right approach and the flexibility to take certain decisions that led me to building GAM3S.GG today. And I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason, so I honestly would not change anything at all – not even the setbacks or any failures along the way, as they were important lessons.

What is your vision for the company?

We want to create the single best platform that every gamer playing Web3 games has bookmarked on their browsers to get all their information, content and engage in blockchain-powered games on.

What new skills have you learnt while launching your start-up?

A lot of big-picture strategy lessons including the art and science of fundraising, negotiations, business development and actual product development.

Who is your role model?

I lost my father when I was 12 years old – he and my family have always been my inspiration in everything that I do, and my north star that guides me.

What is your mantra for success?

There is a very underrated Jeff Bezos quote that says: “We are not competitor-obsessed, we are customer-obsessed. We start with what the customer needs and we work backwards.”

This resonates with our approach and any success we have achieved so far. We are obsessed with the gamers in our community. We want to make sure we are optimising and improving the experience for them because we are building the product for them at the end of the day.


Company: GAM3S.GG

Started: November 2022

Founders: Omar Ghanem and Daniel Stockhaus

Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE

Industry: Web3 gaming

Funds raised so far: $2m

Investors: Mechanism Capital, Polygon, Double Peak, LD Capital, ROK Capital, Hyperithm, Snackclub, Emurgo Ventures, Eden Ventures, SkyVision Capital, Venly Ventures, Compute Ventures, TKX Capital, 4SV, CommonWealth Capital and Mix Marvel Venture

Updated: October 15, 2023, 1:38 AM