What’s Next for Esports? 4 Key Takeaways from DGC MEA Dubai 2021
29 June 2021
DGC MEA is the leading B2B digital games conference in the Middle East and Africa and we attended the virtual event from 22nd to 24th June. With a focus on the esports industry here are our top takeaways from the event.
1. Esports – What’s New?
In 2020 things became hyper-digital and a lot more staying home meant a massive push for the esports industry.
- 2020 saw more celebrities and sports stars (e.g. the likes of professional footballer Sergio Agüero and rapper T-Pain) getting involved with esports as streamers and investing in esports organisations
- With physical races put on hold in 2020 and 2021 sports leagues also got a lot more involved in digital esports events
- Fashion and gaming collaborations were seen in 2020 and are likely to continue throughout 2021. For example, League of Legends partnered with Louis Vuitton, Animal Crossing partnered with Valentino and Marc Jacobs, and Roblox with Gucci.
- Fashion brands are partnering on physical and digital releases, sponsoring events or designing their own custom content to purchase with in-game currency. They are even partnering with children’s games to inspire the next generation
- Influencers control the audience. In gaming you don’t just want to be popular, you want to be influential. In 2021 influencers may look to expand themselves through starting their own companies, asking for equity in exchange for promotion and investing their own money in esports companies
- We will also likely see influencers start to customise their merchandise in unique ways with releases of custom and limited edition products
- Esports teams acting as PR and marketing agencies could be the next big with influencers launching their own promotions
- NTFs – experts predict a move towards companies and influencers creating their own NFTs (Non-fungible tokens). These could be used to give ownership of statistics and for more than just in-game assets
2. Saudi Arabia’s Progress and Partnerships
Progress is being made and the country has developed its infrastructure, making it easier for investors to get involved in esports.
Elements that have helped catalyse growth of esports:
- High penetration of tech savvy youth
- Good telecom and connectivity infrastructure
- High purchasing power in the market
Mobile operator partnerships
New partnerships are pushing the gaming landscape to the next level. For example STC have launched STCplay in partnership with Saudi Esports Federation – a major development in bringing a large corporation into the gaming world and creating investment.
3. Africa is Stepping Up its Game
The creative industry in Africa is growing. Music has boomed and has been distributed all over the world, bringing value to Africa and its culture. Animation, game development and esports are not far behind.
- Esports is growing faster than game development. The industry is expanding very rapidly with a focus on start-ups
- Glocalisation – Quality African games are being exported to the rest of the world and creative studios are now able scale and look beyond their own country
- Changing consumer behaviour – People who want to use creative products are looking inwards to local markets
- New online gaming communities have been created allowing developers to upload games and sell assets that can generate revenue from local players, using local payment platforms – such as mobile money which is common in Africa
4. MENA’s Future in Esports
Investment is still needed in the MENA region when it comes to esports and the focus should be on building leagues.
- Consistency is key and offering prize pools that will encourage gamer interest is imperative
- Education is important. Parents have a lot of influence and they should embrace gaming and esports as a future career path and business opportunity for children
- Promotion shouldn’t just be digital. Above the line media, for example, Outdoor, TV and radio is still important and has the potential to reach and influence a large and relevant audience
- With big publishers already in the region such as Ubisoft and Riot publisher interest in MENA is only set to get bigger
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