The MENA region is one of the fastest growing gaming markets in the world – for game developers – and is expected to reach $3.2 billion in 2016.
The region has witnessed increasing interest from big game developers and publishers, from Ubisoft setting up shop in Abu Dhabi and looking to localize some of their most popular titles, to other global developers seeking to forge connections with local players at events such as the Dubai World Game Expo.
However, such an untapped market does come with challenges. Wamda Research reports that only 4% of regional companies that labeled themselves as belonging to the gaming industry were funded by VCs (although this may also be affected by angel activity). In addition, although the region seems to host some very hungry consumers, game producers are limited. So what’s the deal? Why aren’t we moving?
At last week’s MENA Games conference, the first of its kind to address the sector in the Middle East, the region’s known players, as well as international developers and publishers, gathered to give a diagnosis on opportunities and challenges. The general consensus was that a synthesis within the industry, as well as an effort to bring the community together, is much needed.
The conference, organized by IFP Group with the support of game developer Play 3arabi, was hosted at the historic Train Station in Beirut, Mar Mikhayel, kickstarted with the first regional edition of the Arabic Game Jam competition (more on it this week on Wamda), and offered a program with panels, talks, and workshops, featuring some of the world’s notable gaming industry players (Ubisoft, GameForge 4D, GameFounders, and International Game Developers Association (IGDA) were some of the names). Below are the main insights.
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Stephanie Nour Prince