Tech Waves: Navigating Gaming’s Technological Seas – Our last two reports have highlighted the rapidly increasing presence of sports in people’s lives (especially in the Middle East) and the unprecedented opportunities this opens up for the industry as a whole. Professional competition is a natural extension of any sport. Video games are no exception, the first esports tournaments started in the early 90s. From there, it was only a matter of time before they moved from stadium to stadium, and the stakes grew from bragging rights to millions in prizes. This report explains what esports is, how it differs from traditional sports, and how to make the most of its potential globally and in the Middle East.
The stakeholders now operate independently, but they will need to work together to significantly expand esports.
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As an esports federation, part of SEF’s mission is to support and grow the esports community. What do you think today’s society needs? What are the biggest challenges and how do you solve them as SFŽP?
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Esports has great potential, both globally and in Saudi Arabia. The global value of gaming is currently around $170 billion, and gaming spending in Saudi Arabia is expected to reach $6.8 billion by 2030.
However, the industry is still young, which presents several challenges to society, and we see our role as providing the necessary support to overcome some of these challenges.
It starts with enthusiastic young players. They need a place where they can not only play, but develop their skills and test them against other players to grow as esports athletes. We as a federation strive to create places like this: gaming cafes may seem like an early 21st century concept, but they are still important in bringing together people for whom gaming is more than just fun. And of course, there are events that we organize together with schools and universities to provide a platform for young talents.
Currently, top players have the opportunity to choose esports as a career. However, our goal is to create a complete esports system that enables many different functions in gaming and esports. We are currently working on several initiatives to make esports a viable career option. This includes formal legal recognition of esports athletes and esports clubs, establishing training facilities for esports clubs to provide more professional training, and esports training clubs to round out the expanding ecosystem.
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And then comes the stage when athletes reach professional status and are ready to compete at the regional and international level. Although they may travel abroad to be part of the best tournaments in the world, we believe it is important to create recognized systems here as well. That’s why our federation has worked hard to create the Saudi eLeague, Games Without Borders, the world’s largest humanitarian esports event, and of course the incredible Gamers8, the world’s largest gaming and esports festival. These are platforms for the best esports athletes from around the world and Saudi Arabia to showcase their skills and compete at the highest level, creating an amazing experience for international and local esports fans. With approximately 23.5 million gaming enthusiasts in Saudi Arabia, approximately 70% of the population and 48% female, the demand for gaming and esports is high. It is our responsibility and our pleasure to ensure this unrestricted potential.
We see that the 2023 edition of Gamers8: The Land of Heroes is complete. What makes Gamers8 special to its location?
Gamers8 is the largest gaming and esports festival in the world and has gained legitimacy from the global gaming community – that’s what makes its location so special. Last year’s inaugural edition was very well received – more than we expected – and this summer the world’s best esports teams and players descended on Riyadh again for a series of elite tournaments. Gamers8: Land of Heroes had a total prize pool of $45 million, three times that of Gamers8 last year. Elite tournaments held at Gamers8 this year were: Fortnite, Tekken 7 Nations Cup, PUBG Mobile World Invitational, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six® Siege, Dota 2, ESL R1, StarCraft II, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), PUBG Global Series 2, FIFAe Club World Cup, FIFAe Nations Cup, FIFAe World Cup, Street Fighter 6 and Rocket League. The festival is complemented by live music concerts by international, regional and local stars and more than 1,000 activities and attractions on Boulevard Riyadh City.
The inaugural Gamers8 2022 festival attracted 1.4 million visitors, including esports tournaments and festival activities on the Boulevard. We also connect Riyadh to the world in terms of esports fans watching tournaments on online platforms: with more than 63 million hours of viewing, the Gamers8 2023 edition quadrupled the number compared to last year.
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Overall, our goal at Gamers8 is to provide a unique experience for gamers and fans alike, using the latest innovations and technologies to truly delight people. But it’s not all glitz and glam – there’s a very playful approach. Last year it was about holding several top tournaments in one season, and this year we took it a step further by introducing a table between matches. We celebrate not only athletes and teams within a single discipline, but also the best esports clubs across all disciplines of competition.
First, the competition is built on video, not physical games. Although it may seem simple or even trivial, the scale of an esports tournament can be similar to the scale of a football final. Esports athletes experience significant stress and heart attacks,
When they show extraordinary skills (unique in each category) such as reaction speed (<200 ms) or actions per minute (400-600 APM).
Even today, the chances of success in competitive esports for casual players are slim. As with traditional sports, participating at the professional level requires total dedication and commitment from players who spend 70-80 hours a week training to become the best at their game. Teams/players often live together to improve their practice schedule, improve team strategy, tactics and communication, and develop their individual skills by playing against other talented players every day. Complex systems are emerging around players to ensure they are ready for important matches. Training programs include developing new techniques, improving existing ones and competing against teams and other players to assess skills and identify gaps. Although they play video games, esports athletes consider physical and mental health to be essential to success, so many teams incorporate nutrition, physical training and psychological support into their daily routine.
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Second, esports is embedded in a special ecosystem (Exhibit 1) that includes 2 stakeholders that do not exist in physical sports – game publishers and licensing partners:
At the highest level, esports tournaments are similar to games, with qualifiers, playoffs and finals. They also organize pitches with live broadcasts through (mostly) digital media such as Twitch or YouTube. However, the differences between game types and the complexity of the ecosystem greatly affect the performance of esports.
So, while esports has many similarities to physical sports, it has a more complex ecosystem. This brings innovation in many directions to satisfy all participants in the ecosystem (especially sports publishers, athletes and viewers).
Not surprisingly, given the complexity of the ecosystem and relative nature of the industry, esports is relatively fragmented compared to traditional sports markets. This section will provide an overview of the esports market in terms of key metrics (number of viewers, price levels, ticket sales) and explore the potential for further scaling.
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Esports is still far from the popularity of traditional sports, but it is moving fast in that direction. Even top esports events like League of Legends draw a fraction of the same device viewership as sports like the FIFA World Cup (estimated 76 million viewers vs. 3.5 billion and 0.2 billion vs. 35 billion watch hours). . However, esports has experienced some success in the last 30 years, especially the biggest growth in the last 8-10. For example, several esports tournaments have exceeded 100 million watch hours. Furthermore, where previous players like League of Legends Worlds and The International for Dota 2 took 8-9 years to reach this number, ML:BB achieved it in only 4 years (Exhibit 2). In general, esports viewership continues to grow while mainstream sports stagnate or even decline.
Fans are fascinated by the level of skill and competition they see in esports tournaments. For example, IEM Cologne attracts 15-20 thousand people to watch the best teams compete for a prize pool of one million dollars in the arena, which is comparable to many physical sports events. However, the audience is younger than the audience in the major sports leagues, more technologically savvy and relatively affluent (Exhibit 3). These characteristics make esports a promising marketing channel for many brands.
The audience is also passionate and loyal in their demand for certain sports. In 2013, tickets for the League of Legends World Championship Finals in Los Angeles sold 17,000 seats in less than an hour.
6 6 There are many similar examples, including a similar large section in Berlin
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