According to the latest reports, the value of gaming in the MENA region will touch US$ 5 billion by 2025, but the CEO of Qatar-based esports company, QUEST Esports, Elie Honain believes that more needs to be done for the esports ecosystem to truly flourish, starting with publishers embracing the Middle East, alongside public-private sector collaboration.
“Publishers are the core of esports; this is the struggle we have had over the past decade with the majority of them not having a presence here. Publishers need to consider relocating or opening up offices in the Middle East to spur regional competition growth, and so we’re not always feeding into EU tournaments,” said Honain, who was speaking at the inaugural Initiate Summit, part of the first Dubai Esports Festival at Expo City, Dubai.
“Federations also need to collaborate with publishers to help grow the regional scene. In addition, if we look at interconnectivity and how some countries do not even have access to fibre optic internet, there isn’t an even playing ground. If publishers show faith in the region by investing, this will have a knock-on effect on telecommunication and governments to push investment in infrastructure and connectivity,” added Honain.
“We need to show potential partners and sponsors that there are opportunities here when getting involved in Esports – and governments can help. Saudi Arabia is a great example of how to promote the fact you are building an ecosystem. Because we have a presence there, we have received so many enquiries about how to get involved,” added Honain.
Elie Gemayel, Chief Strategy Officer at QUEST Esports, participated in a panel discussion looking at where and how fans engage with content and admitted the industry must up its game.
“We must look at which platforms are the most accepted and advanced here. In terms of supporting streamers with advanced data analytics and media tools, YouTube is the main avenue to reach the gaming audience and offers the best tool sets for streamers and content creators,” he said.
“IP integration in content is also a growing opportunity. How we entertain the audience from a QUEST standpoint is to try to make our streams as engaging as possible. We make filler content fun and try to be clever about incorporating brand sponsorship into streams – this can be through polls, breakaway footage, or replays,” added Gemayel.
When prompted about the importance of localized content, Gemayel said: “We have come a long way. I’ve been working in event broadcasting since 2016, and what I have seen in just a short amount of time is a shift in perception that content isn’t in English, then it isn’t classed as top tier. Some of the local language esports broadcasters coming up at the moment have incredible talent and are helping to change that mindset.”
Established in 2019, QUEST has quickly joined the elite eSports domain and positioned itself among the industry giants. It signed a MoU with the Qatar Esports Federation (QESF) to develop esports in the country.
Last year, the Doha-headquartered company managed five major online tournaments across MENA and two major LAN tournaments in Doha for games such as Fortnite, CS: GO, PUBG Mobile, Dota 2, and FIFA.