Gaming consumption in Saudi Arabia is expected to reach $6.8 billion by 2030, with the industry offering rich opportunities and a potential leading role for the kingdom on the world stage, according to a report by Boston Consulting Group.

Alongside eSports, the sector – a growing powerhouse with around three billion active participants worldwide – is poised to generate substantial revenue, high-quality jobs and various reputational benefits in the world’s largest economy. Arab, where consumption is expected to grow at a compound annual rate. rate of 22% until 2030 against 959 million dollars in 2020, said the American consulting firm.

“From a Saudi perspective, these growth projections undoubtedly bode well for the local gaming and esports community. Although the kingdom is a relatively recent entrant into this space, the industry is nonetheless vibrant. and growing rapidly,” said BCG partner Povilas Joniskis.

Gaming has become big business, with new era technologies offering both the opportunity to reach a wider audience and to develop new titles to meet consumer demand. The latest report from gaming data provider Newzoo showed the industry is expected to generate total revenue of around $180 billion in 2021, up 1.4% from 2020.

Console and PC platforms are expected to experience slight declines, but the mobile segment is expected to register another year of growth, with revenue up 7.3% year-on-year to $93.2 billion, accounting for 52% of the global market, the group said.

The eSports segment, meanwhile, had its biggest year ever in 2021, with an audience of 465.1 million, up 6.7% year-on-year. Increasing investment remains a core part of the business model for teams and organizations, BCG said.

eSports revenue is expected to jump nearly 50% to $1.62 billion in 2024, from more than $1.08 billion last year, according to Statista.

A major milestone for esports was when FaZe Clan announced in October that it would go public through a special purpose acquisition company, or Spac, at a $1 billion valuation, the first time that an eSports organization has raised capital in the public market, making it the first eSports. Unicorn.

Even venture capital funds, which traditionally stay away from the gaming segment, are realizing this. The top 15 venture capital funds dedicated to games now have nearly $2.8 billion in assets under management, according to December data from consulting firm Games One.

And in a sign of an uphill battle in the industry, Microsoft announced last week that it was buying Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard in a $68.7 billion all-cash deal, making it the world’s third-largest games company.

Saudi Arabia is currently home to 23.5 million gamers, or around 67% of its population, according to the BCG report. Additionally, 90% of gamers – around 21.1 million – already play eSports titles on a semi-professional or amateur basis, with around 100 professional eSports players pursuing this career full-time.

But while there is a lot of potential in the Saudi gaming industry, a number of challenges lie ahead as the ecosystem is at an early stage of development compared to other international markets, BCG said.

These include a lack of funding to compete full-time, the scarcity of local competition, the lack of a clear path for players to turn professional, and the social stigma associated with choosing a career. in gaming and electronic sports.

“Avid players are mainly fueling its growth and popularity at the moment, and it is more than possible for them to embark on full-time careers and get involved on the international stage. Yet, first, major hurdles regarding aspiring Saudi competitors and professionals need to be overcome,” Mr. Joniskis said.

From a Saudi perspective, these growth projections undoubtedly bode well for the local gaming and esports community. Although the kingdom is a relatively recent entrant into this space, the industry is dynamic and rapidly growing, nonetheless

Povilas Joniskis, Boston Consulting Group Partner

This, however, presents the government with an opportunity to capitalize on the widespread popularity of games and translate the current high level of consumption intensity into corresponding production intensity.

“When looking at gaming and esports in Saudi Arabia, we see interest in the industry growing among government and less traditional commercial players,” Joniskis said.

“By focusing on areas for improvement and approving necessary investments in specific segments, the kingdom’s economy, reputation, job market and talent pool – all should reap the rewards.”

The BCG has highlighted the role of the games and esports industry in Riyadh’s future-focused Vision 2030 development program, and the government is taking note, providing more support to the organizations.

Riyadh-based Manga Productions, part of the Misk Foundation founded by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, provides funding and financial support, while helping with education and talent attraction efforts.

The Department of Communications and Information Technology and the DigiPen Institute of Technology, a game design academy, recently partnered to launch the Game Changers program, designed to provide “unique career paths for entrepreneurs in the Saudi game industry” and increase the number of freelancers. game company start-ups.

Updated: January 25, 2022, 1:13 p.m.