Transforming Saudi Arabia's esports and gaming landscape

April 27, 2023 | By Keith Jordan
Saudi Arabia has emerged as a major hub for esports and gaming. The value of the country’s market in this space hit $1 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach $6.8 billion by 2030. According to studies by the Saudi Esports Federation (SEF), Saudi Arabia is home to 85% of gaming fans in the Middle East and North Africa.

Last year’s announcement – made during the LEAP tech exhibition in Riyadh – on Saudi government’s plans to invest more than $6.4 billion in future technologies, including esports and gaming, is testament that the country’s leadership understands the potential of this industry. The investment supports the country’s economic diversification strategy in line with Vision 2030.

Gaming and esports bring together people of different ages and backgrounds from around the world through a common interest, and that is priceless. Mastercard is leveraging its partnerships and technology to make in-game payments easier, curate more immersive experiences, deliver fan-first touchpoints, and stage unforgettable moments for gamers to enjoy.

To help promote Saudi Arabia’s billion-dollar gaming industry, Mastercard signed an agreement with SEF to pursue long-term collaborations on a range of innovations. These include metaverse and augmented reality (AR) activations, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), gamer and fan loyalty solutions, and a gaming virtual Mastercard card. As part of the partnership, Mastercard will also sponsor Gamers8, the largest gaming and esports event worldwide that takes place annually in Saudi Arabia, for the next three years.

The two entities seek to unlock a wealth of unique experiences powered by Web3 technology that will offer gamers the opportunity to access exclusive benefits in the physical and digital world. This new digital community will provide an inclusive home for gamers, creators, and collectors, where they get to shape the future of Saudi esports. Members will be able to design their own virtual creations and use them in games.

As the rapidly evolving metaverse merges the virtual and physical world, gaming and exports have found themselves on the edge of a new frontier. Their new expanded reality is an entertaining, energized, competitive, augmented, immersive, and multi-dimensional space where gamers, esports players, and fans engage.

Photo of Keith Jordan
Keith Jordan, Vice President, Innovation