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Experts point to rapid global growth of gaming industry

By Bahaa Al Deen Al Nawas - Nov 23,2019 - Last updated at Nov 23,2019

DUBAI — Games unite people and bring them together, regardless of their backgrounds, nationalities and global locations, said General Manager of the Global Publishing Department at Tencent Games Vincent Wang on Thursday at ON.DXB, a three-day film, game, video and music festival in Dubai.

The ON.DXB event, held at Dubai Media City, saw a wide variety of talks and panel discussions with CEOs, celebrities, businesspeople and media representatives from Thursday to Saturday.

Delivering a keynote speech for the event, Wang, who is also Head of PUBG Mobile at Tencent Games, noted that global revenues from video games are expected to reach $148.8 billion by the end of 2019, marking a 7.2 per cent year-on-year increase. 

He noted that while $4.8 billion of that total will come from the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA), this figure is expected to reach $6 billion by 2021, signifying a “good growth rate”.

Wang said that, in March of 2018, PUBG Mobile reached 400 million downloads, with 50 million active daily users.

He highlighted the importance of localisation in making the game popular in the Middle East, not only through translation but also through visual elements that brought a “local touch” for the players to relate to. 

The gaming industry “has innovation at the core” and “involves cutting-edge technology”, Wang said, citing PUBG Mobile as an example. He highlighted the voice chat feature of the game, which allows players to determine who their teammates and enemies are. 

Through localisation, innovation and investment from industry entities, a gaming ecosystem can be built to “benefit all those involved”, according to Wang.

For his part, Senior Market Analyst at Newzoo Tom Wijman delivered the second keynote speech, in which he provided a more detailed report from a global perspective, as his company focuses on market forecasts, tracking data and consumer insights in regards to e-sports and mobile gaming. 

“Vincent already showed you the global number, which is truly still an impressive number. Like, $150 billion — that is bigger than movies, that is bigger than TV — so gaming is truly one of the leading industries out there,” Wijman said.

He highlighted how mobile games have “made it” in the industry, noting that it is “the fastest growing sector” in the market, with console and PC segments “maintaining their healthy growth”. 

From a regional perspective, 48 per cent of revenues are generated by the Asia-Pacific region, with China contributing $36.5 billion alone, while Europe, the Middle East and Africa grouped together generate a total of $33.3 billion, Wijman said, adding that the US generates $35.5 billion, coming in second after China. 

In regards to how the gaming market went from a $35 billion market in 2005 to nearly a $150 billion one at present, Wijman said that games are “at the forefront” of entertainment, as, for example, Mario and Pokemon have grown into franchises that “transcended gaming”, with merchandise, movies and entertainment events revolving around them.

“Consumers are also part of the experience, so it is not just companies that create content. With the rise of YouTube, Twitch and streaming and content creation, consumers have turned into content providers for the industry itself, so it has really come full-circle and everyone is part of consuming but also of creating. That, I think, is a really interesting aspect of gaming that you do not see anywhere else,” Wijman said.

Another sign of growth is the 2.3 billion people around the world who play video games, which is almost one-third of the entire global population, Wijman said, noting that the MENA represents the fastest-growing region in terms of number of players.

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