How Local Developers Are Driving Gaming Innovation Across MENA

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is one of the fastest-growing markets for the gaming industry.

In Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) alone, about 65 million gamers generated $1.76 billion in 2021. And by 2025, those numbers are projected to rise to 86 million gamers creating a $3.14 billion opportunity.

Read more: Gaming Sales, Engagement Slide as Discretionary Spending Shrinks

In 2011, the opening of Ubisoft Abu Dhabi marked the arrival of one of the world’s biggest video game publishers in the region. And since that time, the Abu Dhabi studio has been responsible for localizing Ubisoft’s successful international titles for Arabic markets as well as developing several original console and mobile games.

As well as attracting global gaming giants like Ubisoft, the UAE is also home to independent games developers like Kashkool and regionally focused ones like Babil Games.

With locations in Dubai and Amman, Jordan, Babil specializes in mobile games for the MENA market. The studio’s offerings include strategy games like Nida Harb and Strike of Nations as well as a mobile version of the classic Middle Eastern card game ballot.

Away from the UAE, Egypt has emerged as a hive of indie games development with studios like Appsinovate, Castling, Rumbling and Instinct helping to put the country's gaming industry on the regional map.

In fact, despite the fact that Egypt’s small independent developers may not have the huge budgets and resources that international publishers do, by focusing on original gameplay and artwork they have managed to secure cult followings, nonetheless.

Blockchain and Metaverse Gaming

It’s hard to write about gaming in 2022 without touching on future directions and the developments in metaverse and Web 3.0 gaming.

Here too, the UAE is establishing itself not just as a pioneer in MENA but at the forefront of global gaming innovation.

See also: Some Gaming Companies Are Done Flirting With NFTs

Dubai, for example, is one of six global cities that is hosting a series of Web 3.0 events aimed at propelling the industry forward and driving innovation in the space. The most recent event in March included panel discussions on GamFi, the growing importance of metaverses and the future of nonfungible tokens (NFTs).

While the concept hasn’t been universally adopted by the gaming industry, a growing number of platforms are also choosing to issue in-game items as NFTs, opening new possibilities for game economies and cross-platform interoperability.

Read more: Some Gaming Companies Are Done Flirting With NFTs

This month, for example, Emirati sports car manufacturer W Motors entered the NFT space via a partnership with Tokengate.

The event saw W Motors release virtual versions of some of its most popular models, with the goal to eventually integrate the supercar NFTs into blockchain gaming platforms to enable owners to race their NFTs.

In recent years, the likes of Revv and Nitro League have introduced the concept of NFT racing and attracted tens of thousands of gamers to the play-to-earn racing and trading platforms.

The concept of cross-platform exchanges and collaborations with real auto developers has also been one of the most innovative ideas in the booming space.

Finally, the UAE is also home to the ambitious blockchain gaming metaverse Farcana. Set on a futuristic terraformed Mars, the immersive multiplayer shooter game is a classic blockchain gaming with its own native token, decentralized governance system and NFT assets.

Where Farcana diverges from the model is that it will allow players to win Bitcoin, not just $FAR tokens.


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