- The event organised by the Saudi Esports Federation (SEF) announced multinational partnerships, raised awareness of important issues, and laid the foundations for the industry’s future
- The forum attracted over 2,500 delegates from around the world across different sectors of expertise, including Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin, Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan, and Hollywood director Michael Bay
- The landmark Gamers8 Club Awards ceremony saw prizes accumulating to $5 million handed out to winning teams, including Twisted Mind, Team BDS, and Team Spirit, recognizing their achievements from across the Gamers8 season
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, September 6th, 2023 – The Next World Forum (NWF), one of the largest global gatherings of the biggest names in international gaming and esports, returned to the Four Seasons Hotel in Riyadh for two days on August 30th and 31st. Reflecting the global appeal of gaming, delegates from around the world shaped the sector’s exciting future through panels, interviews, and showcases on the most important topics in the sector today, including challenges facing women, developments in AI, the esports economy, and mental health.
His Royal Highness Prince Faisal Bin Bandar Bin Sultan, chairman of the Saudi Esports Federation, who was present on several panels at the forum, stated Next World’s importance: “Saudi Arabia’s aim is to become a global hub for gaming and esports, and hosting events such as the Next World Forum is a key part of the journey to fulfilling that quest.”
During the forum, 14 memoranda of understanding (MOUs) were also signed, headlined by an agreement between the six GCC countries to establish the GCC Esports Federation and elevate athletes through annual eLeague tournaments. Numerous other business deals were also agreed during the forum’s second edition, which drew more than 2,500 delegates, including CEOs, government ministers, investors, esports athletes, developers, publishers, and international media. Guest speakers included Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin, Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan, and Hollywood director Michael Bay. Champions League-winning former Real Madrid and Welsh national team footballer Gareth Bale also appeared to discuss celebrities’ role in gaming now and in the future.
Omar Batterjee, Next World Forum Programme Director, said: “What we discuss… will lay the foundations and framework for many years to come for the sector. Let us seize this moment, come together, not just to play but also to dream, innovate, and collaborate”.
Reaam Alkhudairi, Next World Forum Programme Manager, reflected on the Forum’s success: “Encapsulating creativity, innovation, and diversity, we are immensely proud that the Next World Forum panels embraced the full spectrum of gaming and esports and its associated industries.”
She continued: “Featuring eminent leaders and expert speakers, the forum attracted more than 2,500 delegates this year from all corners of the world, fully reflecting the global appeal of gaming, we are excitedly awaiting a future that shines even brighter”.
The future of several esports organizations is certainly bright, thanks to the Gamers8 Club Awards. Following Gamers8 2023, the biggest gaming and esports festival in history, the Gamers8 Club Awards presented the tournament’s top teams with a share of a $5 million prize pool. Saudi Arabian side Twisted Minds fought off the competition to secure first place and win the top prize of $1.5 million. These landmark awards, the first of its kind in the professional scene, cover an overarching leaderboard that tracks which esports organization is performing the best over the course of the 12 game titles at Gamers8 2023.
About the Next World Forum:
The Next World Forum, a gaming and esports forum that will bring together sector leaders and experts from around the world, is to be held on Wednesday, August 30 and Thursday, August 31 in Riyadh. Hosted at the Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Center, the Next World Forum is where the global gaming and esports community will gather to discuss the development of this vibrant, economically flourishing, and collaborative ecosystem.
Showcasing new ideas, investment, and talent development, the Forum is also an ideal setting to highlight Saudi Arabia’s thriving role in the gaming and esports industry, as the nation strives to contribute substantially to the dynamic value chain. Delegates from across the globe will gather in Riyadh to discuss the most pertinent issues in esports and gaming at the second edition of the in-person Forum. These include ministers of sport from various leading nations, investors, gamers, developers, tech providers, start-ups, public sector representatives, brands and advertisers, publishers, broadcasters, and federations and leagues.
About Gamers8 – The Land Of Heroes:
Gamers8 is the world’s largest gaming and esports festival and the destination for elite esports champions and gaming universe lovers. It’s the ultimate place to compete for glory and become a hero walking among the worlds of your chosen story. Located in Riyadh at the heart of Saudi Arabia, Gamers8 spans a period of eight weeks from July to September 2023, with new challenges and experiences unlocked every week. You can watch the world’s top esports teams compete for the highest prize pools, attend performances by global music artists, experience your favorite gaming platforms come to life, and learn the mysteries behind the creation of video games. Gamers8 is your world, and it’s your adventure to choose. Gamers8: The Land of Heroes follows the success of last year’s Gamers8 at Boulevard Riyadh City. Gamers8 2022 saw the world’s best teams and players battle it out across five top titles – Rocket League, Dota 2 Riyadh Masters, Fortnite, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, and PUBG Mobile – for a prize pool of $15 million. The 2022 festival was visited by more than 1.4 million visitors and watched by more than 132 million people around the globe. A total of 391 professional players – representing more than 61 nationalities – and 113 international teams took part in world-class esports competitions. Gamers8: The Land of Heroes has a total prize pool of over $45 million – triple last year’s grand prize total – and will host the elite of esports in a state-of-the-art, purpose-built venue at Boulevard Riyadh City. The festival will conclude with a gaming and esports forum, known as the ‘Next World Forum’, that brings together sector leaders and experts from around the world.
About the Saudi Esports Federation:
The Saudi Esports Federation is the regulating body in charge of nurturing elite gaming athletes and developing the gaming community and industry in Saudi Arabia. The Federation’s activities are categorized into two complementary streams. The first stream works to develop all levels of competitive gamers, starting with the grassroots community level and moving up to professional esports athletes that can achieve global excellence. The second stream works to develop the entire gaming/esports value chain by catalyzing the industry and enabling talent. Since its establishment in late 2017, the federation has organized multiple world-class national and international tournaments and events, attracted investment from local private sector actors, and worked with international developers on opportunities in the Saudi market.