This report serves as the first in-depth DMCC thought leadership report on the global and local gaming and esports ecosystem. It gathers contributions from key opinion leaders to share their views on where the gaming and esports industry is heading and places emphasis on the drivers of gaming and esports from a technology, culture and business perspective; global trends in terms of market revenue, audience development, and esports and gaming talent; the emerging place of MENA in the international gaming and esports ecosystem; and the key challenges both for the industry and for the MENA region.
Despite the console segment’s revenue dynamics, like other hardware industries, console makers have faced supply chain challenges due to factors including the global shortage of microchips. Revenue strategies going forward will focus increasingly on software, including more downloadable content, annual release of games, more free-to-play games with in-app purchases and greater integration with mobile gaming.
Mobile games, initially low-tech to ensure accessibility, have become more sophisticated as hardware has improved. While mobile gaming dates back three decades, the industry experienced a surge with the advent of Apple's App Store in 2008. This development fuelled a $100 billion industry that now accounts for half of the gaming industry's revenues.
AR and VR headsets have the potential to usher in a new era in gaming and provide the hardware foundation for the metaverse. Meta, formerly Facebook, has been a sector leader due to its Oculus headsets. Although still a niche consumer gadget compared to PlayStation and Switch, Oculus headsets have experienced steady growth in unit sales. The company has significantly invested in its metaverse strategy since rebranding, essentially betting on the metaverse to be a transformative shift in the techno-cultural landscape, similar to the dawn of social media.
Cloud gaming is not a competitor to consoles; instead, it has helped diversify their revenue streams. This is evidenced by cloud industry leader Microsoft being a major player in console gaming via Xbox, while Sony also provides cloud gaming. Google, Amazon, and Netflix have all expressed greater interest in cloud gaming. Microtransactions and subscriptions are among the sector's revenue sources. In the future, wider adoption of high-speed 5G internet is expected to boost the cloud gaming sector by nearly one-third from 2021 to 2024, according to the UAE Ministry of Economy.
Despite the crypto market facing challenges after the collapse of FTX in 2022, the blockchain gaming sector has proven resilient. Gaming remains the driving force for the decentralised application (dapp) industry, making up nearly 50% of on-chain activities. The future of blockchain gaming will heavily depend on the real-world adoption of the metaverse, web3, and cryptocurrencies.
Gaming and esports are definitely on the rise. It is a unique form of entertainment that’s combined with storytelling and technology. There’s a reason why people spend so much time gaming, and that’s because it can be so immersive.
Similar to other entertainment sectors, gaming benefited from COVID, but it was already growing steadily before the pandemic. There has been strong growth momentum.
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