As the Covid-19 pandemic forced millions to stay home for longer periods of time, the video game industry experienced an unpreceded growth in both viewership and revenues. In 2020, over 4.4 million views watched the live video game platform Twitch’s Arabic language streams across the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia, the company said in a statement.
The platform, which allows users to broadcast their gameplay live to fans around the world, recorded a total of 252,850 active streams throughout the year from countries across the region. In May, during the lockdown, it attracted 556,391 views.
The latest figures also pointed to the growing Arabic-speaking gaming market which constitutes over 40 million users. In March, Twitch streams in Arabic increased by 95.3 pre cent year-on-year and 36.9 per cent compared to the previous month, while in April the yearly increase was 109.9 per cent.
As the lockdown measures were eased, the figures once again grew, with 436,291 gaming fans tuning in during November, followed by 572,143 in December.
“The latest Twitch viewership figures show that the Middle East gaming market is growing at an unprecedented rate. Not only are we attracting the attention of major global developers and events like the Blast Pro Series, but the ecosystem has spawned its own secondary viewership market as millions tune in to watch their favourite gamers stream live online,” said Musab Abdulla, technology and innovation director at Bahrain Economic Development Board.
“Arabic gaming is a substantial untapped growth market. Of all the games in the world, only four percent are available in the Arabic language despite 20 per cent of all gamers living in the Middle East. Now, with countries across the region seeking to attract international talent and entrepreneurs as part of ongoing diversification efforts, this market has massive growth potential.”
The Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region has the world's most active gaming market, growing at 25 per cent year-on-year.
“With our open market, unparalleled access to GCC markets, advanced digital infrastructure and multilingual tech-focused workforce driving digital growth, Bahrain has emerged as the destination of choice for those seeking to take advantage of the significant opportunities for Arabic language localisation, hosting, customer services, events and marketing,” Abdullah added.