Gaming in the Middle East is booming. The industry is worth more than $1 billion, and is expected to rise to $4.4 billion by 2022, according to consulting firm, Strategy&, the global strategy consulting team at PwC.
Increasing broadband penetration and the connectivity of more Middle Eastern youth to the internet via smartphones is contributing to this growth, meaning that the regional gaming industry in the Middle East is currently growing faster than the global average.
With this growth in mind, let’s look at some of the key gaming trends coming out of the region:
- Gaming 360° style
International market research agency, GfK, recently conducted a study to better understand people’s behaviour across multiple devices. The research found that 60% of adults use at least two devices every day and almost one quarter use three devices. Another survey in Iran showed that smartphones and tablets are the most popular gaming devices among Iranians but desktop computers, consoles and laptops are also high up on the list.This ‘multiple-screen generation’ navigates easily between different digital platforms and the real world. They increasingly expect 360° play, where each platform adds something unique to their gaming experience.
This year there has been a variety of brands simultaneously offering games, movies, animated TV or web series, as well as producing branded toys and merchandise. These days, games are more than just a pastime, they are a lifestyle, a passion that people want to spend time and money on.The release of Microsoft’s experimental TV/game title, Quantum Break, is a good example of this evolving trend in gaming. In 2017, we can expect more of these 360° franchises, as consumers increasingly flit between different types of screened and live entertainment
- Rise of the era of ‘intergenerational’ gaming
Families are realising that video games don’t need to drive a wedge between generations. These days more families are gaming together, bonding in their living rooms while playing family-friendly games.There is also a growing trend of ‘parent gaming advocates’ who grew up playing games themselves and are now passing their skills, knowledge and passion onto their own children.Two studies looking at the benefits of intergenerational video game play found that playing games together as a family has a positive impact on adolescent development and long-term family outcomes.
Educational games like Minecraft, which in addition to having cross-generational appeal, also improve learning, cognitive and motor skills, as well as creativity in children, have seen a remarkable rise in popularity among families. Playing other family-friendly games like FIFA or Forza together is also a great way for families to bond.
In 2017 we can expect more games that challenge and entertain both parents and children together. Try out Skylanders: Imaginators, Just Dance 2017, Forza Horizon 3 or FIFA 17 for more family fun next year.
- Cast aside the old stereotype
Women now make up the majority of the gaming population. This is according to a study published by the Internet Advertising Bureau, which revealed that 52% of the global gaming audience is made up of women.Nowhere is this trend more visible than in the Middle East where women are fast beginning to dominate the gaming space. In fact, a recent survey in Iran showed that there are approximately 23 million gamers in the country, and 37% of these gamers are women. Saudi is no different, with almost 48% of the gaming population made up of females.With women increasingly holding more purchasing power, and the gaming population becoming more diverse, developers are starting to take notice. In 2017, expect more games that cater for the female market.
- Better & more powerful consoles
One of the biggest trends to hit the industry this year, is the introduction of console updates. For example the slimmer Xbox One S, now supports 4K movies and HDR (High Dynamic Range). Xbox One Project Scorpio, a much more powerful update, will be able to support full 4K ultra HD technology as well as virtual reality (VR).These updates not only allow for a better gaming experience but they also have greater compatibility between Xbox One and Windows titles, allowing cross-platform multiplayer gaming in titles like Gears of War 4 and Minecraft for even more family fun.With these exciting trends set to come our way in the New Year, the gaming industry is likely continue growing in 2017.