Popularity of Online Gaming Surge in UAE Due to COVID-19

Published October 18th, 2020 - 12:00 GMT
Popularity of Online Gaming Surge in UAE Due to COVID-19
The GCC gaming market has followed alongside the rapid global expansion and is expected to hit $821 million by 2021 from $693 million in 2017. (Shutterstock)

Social distancing measures have meant that many residents in the UAE are opting to spend more time at home, which has resulted in an increased interest in online gaming and related activities, experts said.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Ivan Wu, UAE country manager of Oppo, said that mobile-focused consumer behaviours have changed in response to the Covid-19 outbreak across the world. The GCC region, he said, has seen a surge in the popularity of mobile games and entertainment apps.

"We observed this from the significant sales results in Q1 this year, where Oppo experienced a 214 per cent year on year growth, followed by the strong uplift coming from both the Reno3 Series and the Find X2 Pro launch in the region," he said. "We can also clearly see a burgeoning demand for entertainment on the go, which makes smartphone devices a necessity now more than ever. During this Covid-19 pandemic, technologies have played a crucial role in keeping our society connected and functional in a time of lockdowns and quarantines. The lockdown encouraged us to find different sources of entertainment ranging from mobile gaming to consuming media and content through handheld devices."

According to industry data, the gaming industry is now worth over $129 billion a year. The GCC gaming market has followed alongside the rapid global expansion and is expected to hit $821 million by 2021 from $693 million in 2017, as stated by Strategy& Middle East, part of PwC Network. In line with the overall global trend, the GCC gaming market has grown and is dominated by the mobile gaming segment when it comes to penetration.

This, Wu noted, presents an opportunity for Oppo to continue with its strategy in developing and innovating entertainment-led smart devices customised for the region's youth. "With all the trends indicating to a surge in popularity of mobile games and entertainment apps among millennials in the region, we believe more hyper-connectivity and network interaction, from Virtual Reality to Artificial intelligence will shape the future of mobile gaming. In fact, Oppo has invested $7 billion to date towards R&D to develop our world leading tech."

Similarly, spokesperson from social media app, Bigo Live, said that there has been a sharp increase in the demand for gaming as people look for new ways to entertain and keep themselves engaged at home. They also noted the role that E-sports have played in the increasing popularity of the segment.

"Gaming in general, be it on a standalone console or a connected network online, are activities that have been quite popular for the past decade. It is a way in which people could not only find some temporary entertainment and social value, but also connect with each other and engage in an activity that they shared in common. Today though, the development of the E-Sports industry has provided everyday gamers with the opportunity to craft a potential career path for themselves. The World Championship tournaments for E-Sports has played a positive role in getting people interested because it provides people with a vision of what they can achieve," the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson also noted that gaming is going to be "a significant opportunity" for people in the UAE and across the region. "We have recently witnessed a rapid growth in the average user time spent on mobile games in the Mena region. We believe that once major corporations from the lifestyle, finance, and entertainment sectors join those in the technology industry to jointly nurture this market, it could not only enhance the growth of corporations and individuals, but could also create significant opportunities for the country as a whole."

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