Number of mobile gaming development studios in Saudi Arabia almost doubles

Anne Freer | December 5, 2022

App Business

Mobile gaming is very popular in Saudi Arabia and yet there are just a handful of game studios in the region (24) compared to Europe (5,000) and the US (3,084). That’s according to research from Nine66, a games ecosystem based in Saudi Arabi, which took a closer look at the state of mobile gaming in the region. 

Number of game development studios in Saudi Arabia on the rise

Saudi Arabia has been lagging behind major markets when it comes to mobile game development. That’s despite 83% of local studios finding the process of creating a startup straightforward. 

However, the latest report from Nine66 finds that the number of game development studios in the region almost doubled from 13 to 24 within the last year thanks to incubator programs such as GameChangers. The MENA region’s domestic market is one of the fastest growing ones globally with over 377 million estimated players. That’s similar to Europe (386 million). The increase in local studios highlights the region’s readiness to take the next step in the growth journey. 

Local developers are creating games spanning many different genres, but there is a noticeable preference towards action/adventure games, narrative-driven games and casual/hypercasual games.

Top game genres in development

Source: Nine66

Collaboration at the forefront

The study also found that 84% of interviewees had collaborated with other local developers before, either after meeting them at events or connecting on social media. 

The majority of respondents consider free-to-play the business model of the future despite the majority of developers building premium games right now. 

When asked which platforms developers are focusing on at the moment, two-thirds of said they were targeting PC (66%), twice as much as mobile at 32%. Developers in there region also believe they’re more likely to succeed on PC (51%) than mobile (33%).

Top platforms to succeed on

Source: Nine66

Funding has been a challenge for developers as investors do not yet fully understand the sector. Financial help and a drive to recruit more talent from outside the region are pressing needs for the sector.

Key takeaways

  • 83% of local studios find the process of creating a startup straightforward
  • Number of game development studios in Saudi Arabia almost doubled from 13 to 24 within the last year 
  • 84% of interviewees collaborated with other local developers before

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