Nine66 survey finds Saudi games development market has vast potential

The number of games start-ups in Saudi Arabia almost doubled in 2022 thanks to multiple incubation programs. Data in new Nine66 survey shows the industry should continue expansion as new initiatives unleash vast potential for the region and beyond

Riyadh, 30th November 2022 – Nine66, a Savvy Games Group company that provides tools and services such as skills development, network, publishing and capital to the games industry, today announces the launch of the first-of-its-kind qualitative Game Developers Survey. 

This is the first survey to produce insights into Saudi Arabian game development studios and the current state of the ecosystem. Even though gaming is extremely popular in the region, there is a comparatively low number of studios (24) compared to Europe (5,000) and the United States (3,084), despite 83% of local studios finding the process of creating a startup easy or straightforward. 

Key findings include:

  • The number of game development studios in Saudi Arabia has almost doubled from 13 to 24 in the past year as a result of incubator programs such as GameChangers. 
  • There is a strong collaborative spirit in KSA. 84% of the interviewees have collaborated with other local developers at some point, mainly after meeting them in events (game jams, meet-ups, conferences, etc.) or after connecting via social media.
  • Respondents believe free-to-play is the business model of the future. This is despite the majority of developers right now building premium games for PC.
  • Access to funding is difficult as investors are hesitant to invest in unproven gaming companies, or they don’t fully understand the industry.
  • Local developers’ most pressing needs include additional financial help and recruitment inside and outside the wider MENA region.

The MENA region’s domestic market is the fastest growing globally, touting over 377 million estimated players; almost as many gamers as Europe (386 million) and more than America (210 million). The demand for home-grown talent and games made in the region is reflected in the readiness of local companies to take the next step in their growth journey.

Nine66, part of Savvy Games Group, carried out this critical research to understand the landscape for existing game development studios in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, their common characteristics, main challenges and inspirations. 

Nine66 is utilising the results from the survey and its expertise to help foster future initiatives and growth throughout MENA. 

Speaking on the launch of the report, Nine66 CEO Kadri Harma said: “This is the most in-depth study of the Saudi Arabian game development community ever undertaken. MENA is one of the fastest-growing regions in the world for games, and Saudi Arabia has huge potential, with a young, highly educated and talented workforce. 

“The report shines a much-needed light on the opportunities and challenges ahead. One of our first tasks at Nine66 has been to truly understand the background and nature of the KSA landscape so that we can focus on improving the needs and priorities that will foster a world-class development community.

“This survey contains many valuable insights and will be a key element in directing our efforts in the future”.

About Nine66

Nine66, part of the Savvy Games Group, is an integrated support system for game developers. It provides infrastructure, skills development, network, capital, publishing, and advisory services to promising game studios and developers, both in Saudi Arabia and internationally.

Through its work, Nine66 provides entrepreneurs and innovators in the games industry with everything they need to accelerate their work, drive their business forward and deliver real impact that benefits the entire games community.