PC vs Mobile Games in the Middle East and Beyond

The Middle East gaming sector is still finding its way, and there are some interesting trends emerging as it does. Several research firms, ranging from Arabwinners and Newzoo to Nikkei Asia, have attempted to examine the region's mobile gaming sector, offering a variety of surprising insights on how the local mobile sector compares to the worldwide market. According to Newzoo, mobile gamers in the Middle East produce less revenue than those who play on PCs and consoles. This is because there are cheaper options for games on PCs and consoles. However, the high penetration of smartphone ownership in the Middle East has led to a boom in specific sectors as well as in game downloads.

The low revenue generated from mobile gaming in the Middle East is in contrast to a global trend in which mobile games are among the top income generators in the gaming industry. Recent trends however indicate the Middle Eastern gaming sector is about to catch up. With this in mind, we delve into the many sorts of gaming in the region as well as the general attitude toward mobile gaming.

Mobile Gaming Trends in the Middle East

With the Middle East's growing population, the region has become a fertile ground for mobile developments in the gaming segment. This is due to the fact that over 60% of the population in this region is aged 20 or younger. These gamers are highly engaged with games and spend more than 50% of their time on mobile devices. This has lead to a significant growth of mobile gaming within the casino and betting sector. According to Arabwinners, the region is witnessing a mobile casino era with the number of mobile gamblers already outranking PC gamblers in both number of players and revenue. It's clear that gamblers prefer handheld devices that offer more privacy when gambling for money is involved.

Further, Tencent Holdings Ltd., a leading online and mobile games publisher and internet company, is making headway in the Middle Eastern gaming market. Tencent has invested heavily in Supercell Oy, the Finnish developer of popular mobile game "Clash of Clans." Tencent has also invested in Krafton, a Saudi Arabia-based social media entertainment company. 

PC Games and Trends In The Middle East

The Middle Eastern PC Gaming market is growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 12.1%. This growth is driven by the increase in the number of gamers, the introduction of new games and a high penetration rate given high investments in broadband infrastructure.

Take, for example, the United Arab Emirates, where the average gamer now spends $115 per year. The UAE also leads the way when it comes to PC gaming and gamers in general with PC gaming actually still ahead of mobile gaming.  One of the biggest drivers of gaming in the region is not just traditional AAA video games, but rather community-driven titles, such as electronic sports. Electronic sports, or e-Sports for short, have galvanized an impressive number of people who are now interested in playing cornerstone titles, such as:

  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
  • Overwatch
  • League of Legends
  • Fortnite
  • FIFA

The Middle East is one of the fastest developing regions in the world. More than ever, it's important that game developers take into account this regional perspective to not only appeal to local gamers but also to create games with an inclusive message.

What’s Next for Middle East Gaming?

The truth is that the Middle East is far from “a desert for gaming,” mobile or otherwise. However, Western developers have admittedly ignored, or at the very least, overlooked the potential of gaming products there.  It’s true that there are some geopolitical reasons to reach the average consumers, but those are mostly behind us now. Western developers are also keen on catering to their own player bases. Remember how pointedly Diablo fans reacted when Blizzard announced that it would be expanding the franchise onto mobile?  Nevermind these obstacles, gaming in the Middle East is going one way – up. By one estimate, the mobile gaming market in the region will be worth $4.4 billion by 2022, which is already an impressive number. The console and PC gaming sectors are just as popular if not more so, which makes for a great overall experience.

Gaming to Expand in the Middle East

Gaming in the Middle East is a phenomenon that has been on the rise for the past decade. With the continuing rise in gaming, there are many new developments in gaming culture that are emerging. These developments are transforming gaming into a more community-driven experience by building social connections, developing communities, and encouraging social change. One of the reasons why this is happening is rooted in the changing demographics of gaming. This started with a noticeable increase of female video gamers over recent years.  While in the 80s and 90s gaming would be mostly a male pastime, the 2000s really started to bring women out of their shells. The games became more user-friendly and more entertaining to all demographics in general.  Even today in the Middle East, games are a very social experience that are definitely worthwhile.  If you play League of Legends or Legends of Runeterra, you surely have an idea of how this process goes. If not, you should definitely give them a go.



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