JEDDAH: A seminar was conducted on Wednesday at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry headquarters in collaboration with the Japanese Consulate and Japan Cooperation Center for the Middle East to discuss business opportunities in the gaming industry.
The seminar was attended by Izuru Shimmura, the Consul-General of Japan, Thamir Al-Abood, representative of the Tourism and Culture Committee in Jeddah Chamber, other excellencies from Jeddah chamber, college students, and members from media and gusts.
Presented by Koji Mikami, professor of school media science at Tokyo University of Technology, as well as Sho Sato, CEO of LUDiMUS. The seminar discussed two main topics including the Japanese game industry trends between 2022 and 2023, a gaming industrial association.
For more than 10 years, Sato worked as a researcher in emerging game markets and industries like ASEAN, MENA, and LATAM, reporting updated information to Japanese game platformers and publishers.
He established LUDiMUS in 2020 in order to connect Japanese games and other content industries with international fans, creators, and investors.
He discussed the Japanese game market and said that in a recent study by GameAGE, “Steam market in Japan is around $347.6 million, similar market size to Canada in 2022”
In a comparison between Console and PC game sales ranking in 2022, the top games were Pokémon Scarlet/Violet published by Pokémon in Japan, FIFA 23 published by Electronic Arts
in Germany, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II published by Activision Blizzard in the United States.
Sato also previewed a comparison of the 2022 top three Steam sales amount including the US with $3.8 billion, Germany with $513 million, and Japan with $400 million.
Steam users volume worldwide in this January was also previewed, where the biggest percentage went to English games, with 36.87% while the Japanese language ranked 8th with a percentage of 2.18% this is a clear indication that games that support the English language earn wider popularity than any other language.
To conclude Sato explained that in spite of its comparatively small PC game market and language barrier, the Japanese indie game market expands rapidly for international game developers.
“Since the greater part of Japanese fans, developers, publishers, and even media cannot read English, localization is an essential factor to enter the market.
“The Japanese market is a top priority of Japanese game companies, and they’ve delegated the MENA market to European subsidiaries (like SIEE) or regional traders. However, because of investment by MiSK and PIF and growing market trends in emerging countries, they get more interested in the KSA market”
According to Statista.com, the most followed games for e-sports in Saudi Arabia in 2022 was FIFA at about 38 percent, followed by Call of Duty at about 27 percent, while Apax Legends ranked last with 13 percent, while it ranked third in Japan during both 2022 and 2023 for the best sales of PC online games.
It is worth noting that recently this month Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has increased its stake in Japanese video game developing company Nintendo to 7.1 percent according to a bourse filing.
It was in May 2022 that the Public Investment Fund acquired a 5 percent stake in Nintendo, and in January 2023 it increased that to 6.07 percent in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goal to emerge as a global hub in the gaming industry.
Nintendo is one of the most prominent names in the global video games industry, with a portfolio of titles including Pokemon, The Legend of Zelda, and Mario.
The PIF also has stakes in noted video game companies which include Nexon, Capcom, and Koei Tecmo.
Saudi Arabia is aiming to become a global gaming hub, and the most crucial step to achieve this mission was made in September 2022, as the Kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched the Savvy Games Group’s strategy.
Although the gaming industry is full of investment and development opportunities, Mikami however in his presentation explained the significance of collaboration between the gaming industry and academia that may come in a form of creating health and awareness solutions for many contradictions in the industry.
“The gaming industry needs to build good relations with society, as problems may arise that need to be solved, and these problems need to be addressed based on scientific knowledge. For example, there is a gaming disorder problem, and we have electric consumption, so we need industry-wide awareness to avoid being viewed as an enemy by society”
Mikami, who is a researcher and developer of 2D and 3D Animation as well as game and interactive content, shared his insights with Arab News from an academic point of view and explained the notable growth of the gaming industry in the Kingdom, he also highlighted the importance of involving the culture of the country when it comes to elevating in game developing industry.
“I see many students from Saudi Arabia who are very interested in gaming, not only playing but also developing games. They are very eager to develop their original games.
Most of the games in Saudi Arabia are from China or Korea, however the smartphone base game and console games are from Japan, the collaboration is on how to find your original game, or how to import foreign games. If you really want to generate a Saudi type of game, the younger game developers are playing a significant role.”
To generate a Saudi game, I recommend playing a lot of types, not only Japanese games, but also Korean, China, European, and American, as maybe this experience will expand the sense of the game within the developers.
I really want to develop a game, which is very original for Saudi Arabia, because the game is kind of a medium that concentrates on many people, in this case, the game tamer and concept and also the style of the expression depends on the culture.
So if the Saudi Arabian culture, has a part in the games, then I want to play because I can already experience gaming in Japan, but I couldn’t experience the Saudi Arabian game. So if you developed a nice game, I want to try this is the same as motion pictures or other manga or other industries.
Sometimes if you concentrate on your own culture, maybe other people from other cultures would be interested in these types of things. So yeah, now our collaboration will be on how to develop the existing Japanese game and why not Saudi developers create quite original games.”
To conclude he explained that the latest technology trends and future projections in the gaming field are important for the industry-academia collaboration and cooperation with other industries in the gaming industry.
“ It is important for society to have a positive impression of the game industry and to realize the relationship that attracts human resources and technology.”
Shimmura said in the concluding remarks “Japan is one of the most advanced countries in the gaming industry, and it is ready to share it experience with Saudi Arabia for the benefit of its people in general and young ones in particular.”