A new study by GfK says 50 per cent of all UAE and KSA gamers increased the time spent playing as a result of stay-at-home orders due to Covid-19.
In addition, the pandemic has also triggered a newly installed base of gamers in the UAE (+15 per cent) and Saudi Arabia (+10 per cent) with women accounting for over 40 per cent of this new base. The majority of new gamers overall were between the ages of 26 and 35, the report says.
Even though the number of gaming hours were reduced after the lockdown ended, the time spent gaming post-lockdown was still higher than before it began as people continued to spend more hours playing games. In the UAE, an additional 1.4 hours were spent daily on smartphone gaming after the lockdown ended, compared to the period before, with the duration slightly higher, at 1.5 hours, in Saudi Arabia.
In the UAE, 52 per cent of respondents downloaded new games on their smartphones, with an average of Dhs50 spent in the past three months on in-app purchases. It was slightly less in Saudi Arabia with 44 per cent downloaded new games and made in-app purchases of approximately SAR42.
Growth in the laptop gaming segment tracked by GfK was higher in Saudi Arabia. Amongst those surveyed in the Kingdom, 57 per cent purchased a laptop for gaming compared to 49 per cent of those in the UAE. Among this segment of gamers, online purchases of gaming titles were relatively higher in Saudi than that in the UAE, a trend that continues from before until after the lockdown period. The report also showed that 55 per cent of respondents in the UAE and 57 per cent in Saudi Arabia surveyed would consider purchasing a laptop for gaming by mid-2021.
The top five gaming genres amongst laptop gamers remained the same in both the UAE and Saudi Arabia; Action, Adventure, Sports, Racing, and Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG).
Console gaming habits on the rise
Console gaming habits saw a significant change, increasing by 63 per cent in Saudi Arabia and by 55 per cent in the UAE. Also, more respondents (53 per cent) from Saudi Arabia are likely to buy gaming consoles than UAE respondents (45 per cent), in the next six months. However, directly after the lockdown restrictions ended, UAE respondents (15 per cent) purchased more gaming consoles than in the Kingdom (8 per cent).
The top five types of gaming titles were also the same in both countries for console gamers: Action, Adventure, Sports, Racing, and Arcade.
Where are gamers buying their device?
E-commerce has registered unprecedented growth in recent months, thanks to multiple lockdowns, social distancing, and compelling online retailer promotions. Gamers have always preferred shopping for devices online as they are certain of their choices while also hunting for discounts on what are expensive devices. Amongst PC gamers, 46 per cent in the UAE and 48 per cent in Saudi Arabia have purchased their PC used for gaming through the online channel based on the GfK study. This number is higher for console gamers with 56 per cent in the UAE and 49 per cent in Saudi Arabia making their console purchases online.
“With restrictions still being imposed, and more people turning to gaming as a form of entertainment we will most likely see a continued growth in time spent playing across all devices in the coming months,” said Shika Samuel, analyst for IT panel at GfK.
“I believe that experience fosters a growing habit, and with more time for gaming, we will most likely see an increase in purchasing consideration for devices, accessories, and games as people might look to enhance their gaming experience.”