Google announces MENA Gaming Summit in 2023, training for Saudi Arabia gamers

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American tech giant Google has announced the launch of training programs to support gaming talent across Saudi Arabia.

“We’re excited to announce new capacity building programs for the next generation of gaming talent in Saudi Arabia - whether game developers, students, content creators or Esports players,” Google MENA Managing Director Anthony Nakache said in a blogpost.

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The program will be held in collaboration with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology and the Saudi Esports Federation.

Last year, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince announced a plan to develop the country’s gaming and esports industry, aiming to create 39,000 jobs and boost GDP by $13.3 billion (50 billion riyals) by 2030.

The Kingdom hopes to become one of the top three countries with the most esports competitors by encouraging more Saudis to take up professional gaming.

In May, the chairman of the Saudi Esports Federation Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan highlighted, in a panel at the FII Priority summit in Miami, the positive aspects of gaming, its increasing popularity in Saudi Arabia and how it is opening up new career paths for the next generation. He discussed the shift from pay-to-play to free-to-play models, as well as the advent of new technologies enabling gamers to earn money.

“Gaming is at the heart of global popular culture. It’s also the top form of entertainment among Gen-Z around the world. We see a similar trend in Saudi Arabia, where gaming culture is thriving,” Nakache said in the post.

The planned programs, which will include best practices for monetization, distribution, advertising, and fundraising, are:

University students

Gaming experts and partners from Google will run training programs for over 250 university students across Ahsa, Abha, Dammam, Jeddah, and Riyadh from September 2023 with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology’s Centre of Digital Entrepreneurship (CODE).
The program is expected to cover entrepreneurship strategies, gaming career opportunities, monetization through Google Ads solutions such as PerformanceMax and AdMob, distribution best practices on Google’s app store Play, storage solution Cloud and video streaming platform YouTube.

Game developers

Google will reportedly offer workshops on how to grow their apps using Google Ads and Play to 100 Saudi game developers in partnership with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology’s IGNITE! Initiative.

Participants will also reportedly receive one-to-one mentorship with Google experts on entrepreneurship, fundraising, game development and design, monetization and marketing through Google for Startups Global Mentors community, which connects startups to Google’s global network of experts.

Content creators, gamers

YouTube will offer a workshop at the Saudi Esports Federation’s Gamers8 conference for 50 Saudi-based creators and Esports players focusing on gaming content and channel optimization, audience development and engagement with the gaming community on YouTube.

Women in gaming

YouTube said it would host a special “Ana Batala” (I’m a hero) session, part of the ‘Batala’ program to empower female creators for women in Esports and content creators at Gamers8.

Google is also reportedly collaborating with STC Play, Saudi Telecommunications Company (STC)’s gaming arm and a platform for gamers, on a campaign to promote inclusivity and show the diversity of Saudi Arabia’s gaming industry that will be released later in the year.

Saudi Arabia is home to over 22.3 million gaming enthusiasts, many of whom can be equipped to turn their passion or hobby into a full-time career.

A recent YouTube-funded study found that skills obtained from gaming are highly regarded by recruiters in Saudi Arabia. Over 87 percent of recruiters are more likely to hire someone who plays video games and can speak about the skills they’ve acquired through gaming.

Some of these skills include problem solving, teamwork, communication and strategic thinking.

Google MENA Gaming Summit

Google also announced the first Google MENA Gaming Summit to be held in Riyadh by the end of 2023. The summit is expected to bring together leading Google experts, gaming veterans, investors and top regional talent under one roof.

It will reportedly focus on industry trends, updates and best practices across Google Play, Ads, YouTube and Cloud, and help further the ecosystem.

“We hope that through these programs and the upcoming Google MENA Gaming Summit we can help create more opportunities for the gaming industry to come together and contribute to the growth of Saudi Arabia’s gaming industry and local gaming talent,” Nakache said in a blogpost.

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