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Mobile Gaming and Rising Popularity in GCC Esports

July 8, 2023

The esports industry has witnessed remarkable growth in recent years, with mobile gaming emerging as a prominent segment. In the GCC region, comprised of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, the popularity of mobile games in the esports scene has skyrocketed. This article aims to delve into the reasons behind this surge and shed light on the driving factors contributing to the growth of mobile gaming in the GCC’s esports ecosystem.

Rise of mobile games esports


Accessibility and Affordability

One of the key reasons for the exponential growth of mobile games in the GCC’s esports scene is their accessibility and affordability. Mobile games can be played on smartphones and tablets, which are widely available and easily accessible to a vast majority of the population. According to a report by Newzoo, mobile gaming revenue in the Middle East and Africa region, which includes the GCC, reached $2.3 billion in 2020, representing a year-on-year growth of 14.3%. [Source: Newzoo – Global Mobile Market Report 2020]

Rapid Technological Advancements

The GCC region has witnessed rapid technological advancements in recent years, especially in terms of mobile networks and internet connectivity. The deployment of high-speed 4G and the gradual introduction of 5G networks have significantly enhanced online gaming experiences. These advancements have reduced latency issues, providing a smoother and more immersive gaming environment, crucial for competitive esports. With improved network infrastructure, players can now participate in real-time multiplayer matches, compete with opponents globally, and showcase their skills on a larger scale.

Cultural Relevance and Social Acceptance

Mobile games in the GCC have gained significant traction due to their cultural relevance and widespread social acceptance. Gaming, including esports, has become an integral part of the local culture, particularly among the youth. According to a survey conducted by Ipsos, 79% of Saudi Arabian gamers play mobile games, while 59% of UAE gamers play on mobile devices. [Source: Ipsos – Mobile Gaming in the Middle East]

Esports Infrastructure and Investment

The growing popularity of mobile games in the GCC’s esports scene can also be attributed to the development of esports infrastructure and increased investments. Esports organizations, sponsors, and investors have recognized the immense potential of mobile gaming and its ability to attract a larger player base. As a result, significant investments have been made to develop esports arenas, gaming lounges, and training facilities across the GCC. These dedicated spaces provide a platform for players to compete professionally, hone their skills, and engage with the wider esports community.

Furthermore, the rise of professional esports teams and leagues in the region has created opportunities for mobile gamers to pursue a career in competitive gaming. GCC-based esports tournaments and leagues, such as the Arab Esports Championship and the Gamers Without Borders initiative, have also embraced mobile games, organizing high-profile events that attract both local and international players. Such initiatives not only offer substantial prize pools but also contribute to the growth of the mobile gaming sector in the GCC.

Additionally, it is worth mentioning that Saudi Arabia is launching a massive esports tournament under the Gamers8 brand, with an impressive prize pool of 45 million USD. This tournament is set to feature various games, including the popular mobile game PUBG Mobile, among the roster of announced tournaments. The substantial prize pool further showcases the region’s commitment to investing in and promoting mobile gaming in the esports scene. [Source: Gamers8 Official Announcement]

With 45 Million USD in prize pool, KSA launches Gamers8 Major Esports tournament featuring PUPG mobile

During the recent Showdown and Moonton collaborative Esport tournament for Mobile Legends Bang bang, team ‘Rise it serious’ secured an impressive 2nd place. AXE_Alshi7i, one of the key players from the team, expressed his gratitude towards Showdown.me as a platform and the tournament organizers, stating, ‘First of all, I would like to thank Showdown.me for their excellent organization skills and coordination. This beautifully organized tournament provided my team and me with an opportunity to showcase our skills and identify areas where we can improve as a team.’

tournament announcement Showdown and Moonton
Announcing GCC clash, a mobile Legends: bang Bang online tournament in GCC

AXE_Alshi7i Speaks Out: Mobile Games and the Future of GCC Esports

When discussing the rise of mobile games in the esports scene, AXE_Alshi7i highlighted the accessibility factor as a key reason, stating, ‘In my opinion, the accessibility factor is the main driving force behind the growth of mobile games in the esports scene. It’s much easier for players to practice on their phones, find teammates, and participate in tournaments. The convenience and availability of mobile gaming have opened doors for a larger number of players to get involved in competitive gaming.’

However, when asked about the potential of mobile gaming overshadowing the traditional gaming scene, AXE_Alshi7i expressed his doubts, saying, ‘I highly doubt that the mobile scene will overshadow the gaming scene. While mobile games have gained significant popularity and have their own advantages, console and PC games will always have their own unique style and feel. I believe that mobile gaming will remain a significant part of the esports landscape, but it will not outgrow the traditional gaming platforms.’

AXE_Alshi7i acknowledged the positive impact of the Mobile Legends tournament and expressed his optimism for the future of mobile gaming in the esports scene, ‘The Mobile Legends tournament provided us with valuable experience and helped us identify areas where we can improve as a team. I am confident that mobile gaming will continue to flourish in the esports scene, alongside traditional gaming platforms. With the support of platforms like Showdown.me and the dedication of players, the mobile esports scene in the GCC will continue to thrive.'”

The growth of mobile games in the esports scene of the GCC can be attributed to several key factors, supported by statistics and research. The accessibility and affordability of mobile devices, coupled with rapid technological advancements, have made esports more accessible to a wider audience. Additionally, the cultural relevance and social acceptance of gaming in the GCC have fostered the popularity of mobile games, allowing players to engage in esports on their own terms. Lastly, the development of esports infrastructure and increased investments in the region have provided a solid foundation for the growth of mobile gaming.

As the GCC region continues to invest in esports and embrace mobile gaming, it is expected that the popularity of mobile games in the esports scene will continue to soar, attracting more players, sponsors, and fans. The future of esports in the GCC is undeniably intertwined with the rise of mobile gaming, and this trend is set to reshape the competitive gaming landscape in the region for years to come.