Niko Partners: market for MENA-3 games will grow by 56% by 2026

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Niko Partners forecasts that revenue from games in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt (MENA-3) will grow by 56% from $1.8 billion in 2022 to $2.8 billion in 2026. This represents a CAGR of nearly 10% — what a great growth opportunity for the region. This forecast is part of the second annual MENA-3 Games Market Report & Five-Year Forecast from the games market research firm.

MENA-3 growth

In addition to this revenue growth, the company estimates that the number of gamers will also grow by almost 30%, from 67.4 million last year to 87.3 million in 2026. This translates into a CAGR of about 6%, meaning that users will hardly grow as fast as spend. As a result, the company predicts that average user spend will increase over the next five years.

Niko Partners points to three drivers of this revenue growth: mobile gaming, investments in the public and private sector and esports.

Mobile is the largest platform by revenue and players in MENA-3. Accessibility is a key factor – there is a healthy market for consoles and PCs, but mobile is expected to grow at double-digit rates over the next five years.


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Investments in gaming and esports have been making headlines lately. In particular, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and its subsidiary Savvy Games Group have made several high-profile investments. This includes a $38 billion plan to make Saudi Arabia a global hub for gaming.

Esports in MENA-3

Esports serves to boost travel and tourism to the country and strengthen the country’s position in the games market. Savvy acquired top event organizers ESL Gaming and FACEIT last year for a total of $1.5 billion and the flagship Gamers8 festival will return in July 2023. In addition, rival organizer BLAST has partnered with Abu Dhabi Gaming to host events in the UAE.

Niko Partners expects MENA-3 to compete with hubs such as Singapore and China by 2026.

The company’s data also supports this investment strategy in esports. 73% of gamers in MENA-3 are involved in esports in some capacity. This includes watching esports content, playing esports-focused titles, or participating in amateur or professional tournaments. This shows broad appeal for competitive gaming in the region.

More specifically, about two in five gamers in the MENA-3 region watch esports content (41.7%) or play esports titles (40.7%). Another 12.4% have participated in amateur or pro esports tournaments themselves. Further investments and high-profile events could spur increased engagement in esports – a necessary growth segment for the industry.

Regional differences and demographics

MENA-3’s audience is also driving growth potential. While gaming is still strongly male in the MENA-3 region – 67.4% of gamers in MENA-3 are male versus 53.7% of the population – the audience is young on average.

76% of gamers in the MENA-3 region are under the age of 35. Egypt in particular stands out, with a significantly higher percentage of gamers under the age of 25 compared to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In addition, Egypt has the largest population of gamers and is the fastest growing market in the MENA-3

By comparison, Saudi Arabia is the largest market in terms of gaming revenue and is considered the region’s gaming powerhouse according to Niko Partners. This is of course partly fueled by the investments of the PIF. Meanwhile, the UAE has the highest ARPU among the three markets.

These results are based on a survey of 1,126 gamers in the region in addition to interviews with professionals from the region. Niko Partners’ full 100+ page report on the MENA-3 region is now available.

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