About the Gaming Industry in Saudi Arabia

Rarely coming to the limelight, the video gaming industry in Saudi Arabia is a booming one experiencing significant growth and development. Before going further, it is important to understand how the video game market is defined. The market can be classified into two categories – hardware and software/online platforms. Software services/platforms include online games/gaming platforms, cloud services, internet services, or any other virtual product/service that makes gaming possible. Hardware and accessories comprise the physical products used for/in gaming. This includes gaming consoles like PlayStation or Xbox, smartphones/computers/laptops targeted for gaming use, graphics cards, physical simulator systems, hard drives, memory drives (RAM), etc.

Saudi Arabia has a very large base of active gamers – a figure doing rounds on the internet puts it at 23 million. Currently, the country’s population stands at about 32 million. These two figures give an indication of the popularity of gaming in the country. KSA is also a young country with more than 60% of people under the age of 30 – making it another reason for the popularity of gaming in the country. Other favourable factors include near-even gender representation, higher gaming time, inclination to spend more on gaming, increasing smartphone and internet penetration, and the rise of eSport.

So, what is there for retailers to benefit from the gaming industry in KSA? This blog highlights five business opportunities for retailers in the massive and growing gaming business market of Saudi Arabia.

Business Opportunities for Retailers in KSA’s Gaming Industry

Starting a Gaming Retail Store

The most blatant opportunity is starting a retail game store. Many big players have already entered the market. However, a few big companies cannot effectively cover the entire value chain without making a foray into retailing. MSME retailers have a role to play here. This is where the opportunity arises for them. Local and regional entrepreneurs with knowledge and insights into local markets and customers can effectively take control of the last leg of distribution. They can give much-needed access to the local markets to gaming companies of both products and services. They also have the potential to become regional distributors of these companies.

Becoming a Franchisee

Gaming products and services like consoles or online gaming platforms are technologically sophisticated offerings. A handful of companies are leading the gaming industry globally. Most of the products and services are sold only through exclusive stores or authorised distributors and sometimes, retailers. The opportunity here for retailers is to become franchise partners of one or more of these companies. Franchising is comparable to starting a new, independent business discussed in the previous point. It comes with lesser risk with ready-made brand exposure but is subject to commercial commitment and obligations to franchisors. Different franchise models come with different features determining their plus and minus points.

Diversified Merchandising

Many retail businesses struggle to achieve growth beyond a certain point. The growing gaming industry in KSA serves as a potential revival opportunity for them. Retailers of consumer electronics or departmental stores can extend their offerings by adding gaming product lines. This will enable them to diversify their business and give it a fresh lease of life. Done right, they can cater to a big and growing market segment. It will also boost the sale of other related products. For example, a departmental store or a supermarket can open a new section for gaming products. It will attract a whole new segment of customers with unique needs. Someone looking for a gaming accessory might also be interested in fashion gaming merchandise like T-shirts.

In-Game Advertising

One of the best places to advertise or promote a business is where its potential and existing customers for sure are. It is never easy to target advertisements with precision. Poor ad targeting reduces the effectiveness and ROI of advertising and promotional campaigns. In-game advertising provides a much better assurance of the presence of the right audiences to promote comparative or related products. Games make it possible to target potential customers based on factors like interests and usage patterns. In-game behaviour is also capable of shedding light on psychographics and tastes and preferences. An emerging way to show advertisements is integrating them into game environments without being intrusive and hurting the experience of gaming. There are instances of promoting big movies on mobile games by introducing movie-based games, movie-oriented themes and in-game merchandise. A big factor here is whether game development companies allow localisation of ads or not.

Market Development with Scope of Diversification

A growing industry provides an informative launchpad for businesses to expand to new regions. The presence of the market ingredients that make a business idea successful in one place is a glaring indication of its potential success in other places with the same set of ingredients. It is easier to choose new market locations when the features required for business success are known in advance. Big decisions on business expansion can be made with more confidence. The nature and quantum of risks would be known from prevailing experience. There are fewer variables involved in formulating business strategies and business planning. If SOPs are in place, operations planning could be easily replicated with localised improvisations. This may also entail diversifying into becoming a gaming-specific retail brand. The offerings and value propositions might vary from store to store.


Even though gaming has existed for decades, the kind of popularity and extent of usage it finds today is unprecedented. Traditionally, PC and console devices were thought to be the den of gamers. Super-fast internet speeds made it possible for these gamers to play online. Very soon, smartphones came and proliferated the popularity of gaming. E-Sports, AR, and VR are the latest embellishments. Adding favourable demographics just sets things on fire. This is exactly what is happening with the gaming industry in Saudi Arabia. It is on the right trajectory and any business being able to rightly tag itself with it will grow. This could be in the form of starting a gaming store, becoming a franchisee of any gaming industry giant, extending merchandise mix with gaming products and services, promoting business through in-game advertising, or developing new markets with or without brand diversification.

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