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Mobile gaming a rage in the UAE

Filed on June 16, 2018 | Last updated on June 16, 2018 at 09.07 pm
At over $50 billion, the mobile gaming industry accounts for nearly half of all the global gaming revenue.

(Reuters file)

High smartphone penetration rate, localisation of content for Arabic users spurring more interest

Look around during your lunch break, or on your daily commute to work, and you will see a lot of people enraptured by something on their smartphones. Chances are, that the majority of those people will be playing a video game.

According to reports, the global gaming market will reach over $115 billion in 2018. At over $50 billion, the mobile gaming industry accounts for nearly half of all the global gaming revenue. In 2017, 42 per cent of all gaming revenue went towards mobile games with a predicted growth to 52 per cent in 2022. With over 800,000 mobile games in the app store, these apps accounted for more than 80 per cent of all app revenue from Apple's iOS App and Google Play Stores.

Mirroring the global trend, mobile gaming also continues to be one of the fastest-growing segments in the Middle East; its popularity driven by high smartphone penetration and localisation of content for Arabic gamers, especially in the UAE.

A recent survey by AdColony Emea and On Device Research painted a rosy picture for the future of mobile gaming in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Results showed that 84 per cent of females and 87 per cent of males in the UAE said that they play games on their mobile devices. UAE mobile gamers play on an average 20 to 40 minutes a day, and the majority of those who play mobile games every day play them five times or more.

Yannick Theler, managing director at Ubisoft Abu Dhabi, noted that the mobile gaming segment in the Middle East is growing faster than most of the other regions in the world.

"The fast adoption of digital content in the region, as well as the localisation of games in Arabic is contributing to the fast growth in the region," he said. "The gaming segment is the biggest segment in the ecosystem of smartphone manufacturers, and it will grow even further in the coming years. Manufacturers are aware of this trend and are trying to improve the experience and ease of the players in all possible aspects."

"Gaming has grown significantly within the UAE, becoming home to the world's most active gaming community," said David Wang, country manager for Huawei Consumer Business Group UAE.

He added: "With smartphone penetration taking over, 60 per cent of the online population are gamers - playing PC, console, or mobile games, and are always looking for the highest quality production games. We at Huawei aim to give our users the best gaming experience with the Huawei Mate 10 Pro. Developed with intelligent speed and intelligent power, this device has built in AI that gives gamers a speed like no other, withstanding graphics and the best battery life to endure the long gaming hours."

Research showed that the UAE was the top region for smartphone penetration in 2017, with a 80.6 per cent penetration rate, and a grand total of 7.5 million people with smartphones.

"The gaming industry is no longer a niche arena for a certain age group or consumer segment," said Samantha Billingham, regional sales director at AdColony EMEA. "With the advent of mobile gaming and improvements to hardware used in playing these games, gaming has become a viable form of entertainment for players from all backgrounds and ages. Almost 90 per cent of the smartphone owners in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are playing mobile games. You might not consider yourself a mobile gamer but this doesn't change the fact that you are playing games on your mobile phone."

Similarly, Hakim Abu Nahel, host and commentator, Power League Gaming, noted that gone are the days when mobile gaming was looked at as a casual gaming platform, designed to act as a source of distraction during your daily pitstops.

"Introducing games like Hearthstone, Clash Royale and Pokémon Go a few years back was one of the first steps to connecting the masses into a multiplayer game that resulted in putting mobile gaming on the map both locally and globally," he said. "It was the moment when the leading Battle Royale titles Player Unknown's Battle Ground and Epic Game Studio's Fortnite hit the iOS and Android stores that we have seen mobile gaming reach its full potential."

Originally being massive titles on PC and console, these two games have had a combined number of 69 million players with three million concurrent players. Fortnite alone has generated $57 million dollars on opening weekend as soon as it hit the android and iOS store, with in-app purchases only in addition to a monthly revenue of $126 million.

- rohma@khaleejtimes.com

author

Rohma Sadaqat

I am a reporter and sub-editor on the Business desk at Khaleej Times. I mainly cover and write articles on the UAE's retail, hospitality, travel, and tourism sectors.Originally from Lahore, I have been living in the UAE for more than 20 years. I graduated with a BA in Mass Communication, with a concentration in Journalism, and a double minor in History and International Studies from the American University of Sharjah.If you see me out and about on assignment in Dubai, feel free to stop me, say hello, and we can chat about the latest kitten videos on YouTube.


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