Sharjah Media City (Shams) and Abu Dhabi venture capital fund Shorooq Partners concluded the first SHFT Build event, a gaming technology accelerator programme aimed at supporting the growth of the sector.
The inaugural cohort, which ran for eight weeks with the participation of 33 global gaming start-ups and 68 founders, was designed to help gaming and e-sports start-ups to secure seed investment, Shams said on Friday.
The top six start-ups were able to pitch their offerings to more than 160 investors, programme partners and other founders.
Unveiled in April, SHFT Build aims to help studios, developers, distribution entities and streaming platforms that are building start-ups for the GameTech industry by upskilling and connecting talent with global companies in the industry.
It is being backed by Amazon Web Services, the cloud computing unit of the world's biggest e-marketplace, Amazon, as well as local entities Abu Dhabi Gaming and Shams, game engine platform Unity Technologies and regional companies Tamatem Games, Nifty Craft, Batal Gaming and Calyx.
“Sharjah Media City has an ambitious vision to position Sharjah as a world-class hub for media and creativity in the region, to make creative entrepreneurship more accessible to talented creative individuals and to inspire business growth,” said Shams chairman Khalid Al Midfa.
“Gaming is naturally at the core of this mission, given the tremendous growth and reach the sector has come to enjoy.”
The global gaming market has boomed amid Covid-19 lockdowns over the past two years, and has about three billion participants, according to gaming data provider Newzoo.
The market is expected to be valued at $339.95 billion by 2027, from $198.4bn in 2021, expanding at a compound annual rate of 9 per cent, data from Mordor Intelligence shows.
Gaming market revenue in the Mena region and Turkey surged 15 per cent annually to $6.5bn in 2021, one of the highest worldwide, according to consultancy RedSeer.
The UAE, in particular, has become a gaming hotbed, with the number of mobile gamers on the rise. The Emirates was also ranked fifth worldwide in terms of the number of gaming influencers, according to a study by YouGov.
Games are also driving innovation across the entire consumer ecosystem, pioneering mechanisms to boost user engagement, retention and monetisation, which include microtransactions and Web3 tokens, said Mahmoud Adi, founding partner of Shorooq Partners.
“The most successful games today are communities that retain loyal, long-term users and generate billions of dollars in annual revenue … In the long term, we believe games infrastructure and technologies will be key building blocks of the metaverse,” he said.