According to a new whitepaper by YouGov that surveyed 24 markets including the UAE and KSA, The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is a fast-growing gaming market that has evolved from casual gaming to virtual reality games and competitive sports.
With a growing community of active gamers and a high internet penetration, Gaming & Esports industry in MENA is likely to witness a boom in the future.
UAE and KSA rank among the top 10 global markets for YouTube Gaming, in terms of awareness and engagement with the platform among gamers. This highly engaged gaming audience in the region presents a huge opportunity for game developers and console manufacturers.
In KSA, Twitch enjoys a level of engagement that is equivalent to its level of general awareness among the gaming population in the country. Although Twitch has a wider familiarity in the western markets, when it comes to engagement with the platform- Saudi Arabia wins the worldwide race, along with Taiwan.
While Facebook Gaming is a relative newcomer to the space, more than half of the gamers in Egypt (53%) are familiar with this platform. Even though South East Asian countries are ahead of other markets in terms of awareness for Facebook Gaming, Egypt leads the global race when it comes to engagement with the platform (at 25%).
In the area of gaming, YouGov’s data shows the highest percentage of gamers come from South East Asian countries, with Thailand (82%) and Philippines (80%) leading the pack.
In MENA, Egypt has the highest population of gamers- at 68%, followed by UAE (65%) and KSA (61%).
Within MENA, mobile gamers – playing on a smartphone or tablet clearly outnumber PC or console gamers. In Egypt, just 14% play on consoles compared to 58% who use a smartphone or tablet. Figures for UAE and KSA are 21% for consoles and 57% for mobiles, and 20% and 52%, respectively.
A majority of smartphone gamers in the UAE (79%), KSA (76%) and Egypt (73%) are light to regular players, playing games on their smartphones up to 10 hours a week. Only a small proportion in each country identified as heavy or intense gamers (playing for more than 10 hrs a week).
When it comes to esports, among the 24 surveyed markets, countries in the Middle East tend to be less familiar with esports, with lowest familiarity level in the UAE- at 26%.
Consumers in East Asia tend to have the greatest familiarity with it, with seven in ten people in China (72%), Taiwan (71%) and Hong Kong (70%) describing it correctly as ‘competitive video gaming, primarily in the form of organised/ professional events’.
Large proportions in South East Asia also seem familiar with the term, although European countries’ familiarity with esports varies considerably.
Even though familiarity with esports in the Middle Eastern markets is low, engagement is much higher than the highly aware western markets like US, the UK, and several European countries. This suggests residents are more likely to embrace these competitions, once they know more about them, hinting at a bright future for gaming & esports in the region.
You can access the full report here.