Saudi Gaming In-focus: PLAYHERA and “Abu Makkah”, Impacting the Saudi Esports Ecosystem on Every Scale
In celebration of the incredible momentum that the Saudi gaming industry has been garnering for the past decade, we published our 2023 Saudi Gaming Market Outlook Report. To gauge the sentiment of some of the industry’s most notable professionals and facilitators, we surveyed 130 Saudi-based pro-gamers and game developers, and spoke to representatives from the Saudi gaming ecosystem’s most influential stakeholders. The report features key thoughts and insights on the opportunities and challenges of the Kingdom’s gaming and esports market, as contributed by the likes of PLAYHERA and Ahmad “Abu Makkah” Mujahid.
Nobody can contest the legitimacy and promise of today’s gaming industry, specifically in Saudi Arabia. But long before this phenomenal surge in esports and competitive gaming, pioneers like PLAYHERA had already been streamlining the frameworks for an efficient and competitive esports ecosystem. Since 2004, PLAYHERA has gradually crafted MENA’s premiere platform for the gaming and esports ecosystem, which fostered the rise of many global Saudi champions, like Ahmad Mujahid, better known as “Abu Makkah”.
“I participated in some of PLAYHERA’s friendly tournaments and learned that, with my skills, I could compete with pros. I won a few tournaments, and in 2022, I was intent on making this a career, whatever it took.”
Mujahid and his fellow esports champs are a powerful driving force for the industry in the Kingdom, inspiring esports platforms to continuously evolve and incubate these tremendous young talents. PLAYHERA now provides e-athletes and esports enthusiasts with services like esports team management solutions, organized tournament rounds, and a digital front for pros and fans to connect. This evidently falls in line with Saudi Vision 2030’s agenda for the gaming sector, which in turn is allowing both private and public parties to feed its momentum and tap into exciting new opportunities.
From Local Tournaments to Global Championships
PLAYHERA, which was developed as a “one-stop shop for all gamer needs”, is now host to a community of over 200,000 regional players, some of whom are making their mark as global champions.
Ahmad Mujahid, whose achievements we touched upon briefly, is a shining example of PLAYHERA’s most inspirational community members. Mujahid has amassed impressive titles such as Esports Players League champion, and recently went on to represent KSA and MENA in EA Sports FIFA Global Series.
But his journey as a professional e-athlete began in 2021 when he competed in a PLAYHERA tournament for the first time. The platform’s community-centric strategies allowed him to connect with other e-athletes and compare his skills with theirs, ultimately leading him up the pro-gamer path. In a nutshell, PLAYHERA has created an environment where amateur players can communicate with their pro idols and find the inspiration to compete as well.
Not only that, but the platform allows teams of e-athletes to harness their collective potential under seamless conditions. Mujahid credits his team, Twisted Minds, as a great motivator and support system, even through his individual endeavors. This is a testament to the importance of a well-managed team, which can be maintained using PLAYHERA’s team management capabilities.
As a facilitator of collaborative and competitive gaming, and as a communication hub for its professionals and enthusiasts, PLAYHERA’s engagement levels today are exceeding expectations. The participation rate in PLAYHERA has grown by 876% since its foundation, with increased engagement from older generations of casual players.
Innovation in Service of Young Talents
Video games are now an integral part of Saudi Arabia’s contemporary culture. In Mujahid’s experience, Saudis genuinely enjoy watching and playing games like FIFA, PUBG, Overwatch and Rocket League, and have come to be recognized internationally for their competitive and assertive play style.
While passion and discipline are abundant among the Kingdom’s gaming community, infrastructure and investment have been lacking for some time. However, and in line with its mission, PLAYHERA has altered the landscape of esports in MENA by enabling cloud gaming services, thus unlocking a world of opportunities for gamers in the region. With this advancement, Saudi gamers no longer need sophisticated setups and custom internet services to be able to compete and show their talent globally.
The contributions made by all members of the gaming and esports ecosystem, whether talent, innovation, organization, capital, or support, are melding into an incredibly promising industry. As a pioneer whose impact on the regional ecosystem spans almost 2 decades, PLAYHERA is now expanding its reach to new and highly dynamic markets like Europe and Japan, cementing Saudi Arabia and MENA’s status as a definitive epicenter for esports worldwide.