Saudi Arabia is home to a video game market that continues to offer new opportunities.
Gaming is becoming mainstream, and research firm Catapult Business Solutions reports that console sales are still growing year-on-year – particularly on Xbox 360 and PS3.
However, like many territories around the world, Saudi Arabia is beset by strict censorship, often with regards to sexual content or negative depiction of Arabs.
Titles that have been banned include the first Modern Warfare, Heavy Rain, and the God of War and Grand Theft Auto series. Even Pokémon trading cards have been banned for promoting gambling.
Piracy is also a serious threat but Sony’s PS3 has yet to be cracked and therefore is a hero for games retail.
“There is a substantial software market on the PS3, which can now sell over 50,000 to 70,000 units across the region for a blockbuster title,” says Catapult founder Chris Stanton-Jones.
“In fact, this is the first time ever in the region’s console history that a format so long into its career still has a strong legitimate software business. By comparison there are now zero PS2 software sales despite continued console success.”
November 2012 will see the fifth Dubai World Game Expo, a trade show that aims to raise awareness of gaming and upcoming releases. Many publishers attend, although only Sony and Microsoft have a local office. However, both companies supply retail via third-party distributors.
There are very few developers in the area, but studios such as Index and Kammelna are still trying to make their mark on the social and mobile games market.
Meanwhile, Semanoor International subsidiary Semaphore is hard at work on Unearthed: Trail of Ibn Battuta, an Uncharted-style action game the firm claims is the first triple-A title developed in Saudi Arabia for Western audiences.
Currency: Saudi riyal
GDP (Per Capita): $22,635
Capital City: Riyadh
Eagle, Extra, E-Max, Jarrir Bookstore, Tokyo Games
LS2 Pluto, Modern Electronics, Red Entertainment, Viva Entertainment
Index, Kammelna Games, Semanoor International/Semaphore
PUBLISHERS IN THE REGION
Microsoft, Sony Computer Entertainment