The size of the Middle East and North Africa gaming market is projected to increase 19 per cent to more than $5 billion by 2025, from 2019, according to a new report.
Growth of the market will be fuelled by increased spending from existing gamers, more time spent by users and surging advertisement revenue, according to a report by the consultancy RedSeer.
“Mena gaming is set to exceed unprecedented heights, post the jump seen in 2020-21, owing to the [Covid-19] pandemic and sustained growth is expected across the markets. Localisation of gaming content, Web3 are other key drivers,” RedSeer said.
A growing consumer influx from “underappreciated cohorts”, such as females and Gen X (aged between 41 and 56 years) gamers is adding momentum to the industry, the consultancy said.
The gaming market is booming worldwide after people resorted to at-home entertainment during coronavirus lockdowns over the last two years.
The gaming sector has about three billion participants globally, according to industry data provider Newzoo.
The market's value is forecast to rise to $339.95bn by 2027, from $198.4bn in 2021, according to Mordor Intelligence.
“We see female gaming enthusiasm matching or even eclipsing their male counterparts in many key Mena markets,” RedSeer said.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE — the Arab world’s largest economies — led the industry growth in the region as they experienced the highest penetration of gaming.
In the Emirates, nearly 64 per cent of online adult males and 58 per cent of online females are into digital gaming, while the kingdom has 68 per cent of online male gamers and 69 per cent of online female gamers, according to the report.
The overlap between gaming and Web3 positions the industry as an “ideal beneficiary from the virtual world”, the report said.
Web3 is being touted as the next iteration of the World Wide Web, with blockchain, decentralisation, openness, and greater user utility among its core components.
“Its [Web3’s] meteoric rise and growing investor excitement have brought many of its fundamental components under the microscope. This naturally sheds more light on already thriving gaming segments such as AR/VR [augmented reality / virtual reality] games,” it added.
More than one in five gamers in the Mena region participate in play-to-earn games for their rewarding nature and to boost income, the research revealed.
The gaming market across Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt is expected to be worth $3.14bn by 2025, according to California-based market research and consulting firm Niko Partners.
In February, MBC Group, the biggest broadcaster in Mena, formed a joint venture with Neom, the $500bn high-tech mega-city being built in the kingdom, to set up the first AAA games development studio in the region.
A month earlier, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, launched a gaming company, Savvy Gaming Group, to strengthen its position in the sector.