Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Rising Gaming Group in the Middle East

Fun fact time. The Middle East is starting to boom with video games. They are currently the fastest growing group of online gamers that we've seen in over a decade, and are expected to make up 25% of the gaming audience globally within the next few years. Roughly 90% of the games played in these regions, such as Saudi Arabia (the largest market) are from overseas. And homegrown developers want to change that.

The culture is restrictive on certain aspects, due to religion and government influences. While it's eased a bit over the years, there is still a limit on what can be imported into the country, including video games. My time working for GameStop, I learned very quickly what could not be sold to ship overseas to the Middle East, and how to curb those complaints. And that's something that stays at the forefront of the minds of developers in the regions. From it, they have been able to create content that fits to their countries standards, while providing something new. A current hit titled Unearthed: Trial of Iba Battuta involves a brother-sister treasure hunting team, as they unearth a mystery surrounding Iba Battuta, a 14th century explorer, is making the rounds in the region.

What's interesting is just how much more people in the Middle East are willing to pay for video games and their content versus anyone else in the world. Much more then the US or Europe. One figure mentioned that some will pay up to $5 Grand USD to "speed" through the game and access more stuff. Think of it like World of Warcraft or The Old Republic. You can play the "freebe" version of these games, or you can buy stuff to increase your leveling and get you better gear. People in the Middle East take this to an extreme level and will spend much more to get to the end game before everyone else.

World developers are taking note. I wouldn't be surprised to see companies like Ubisoft and their in-game purchasing taking a swing at building content specifically for the region.

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