With Gamescom 2023 having closed its doors and Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki 2023 still two weeks away (find out more and get your tickets here) there’s just enough room to fit in a hot new event, now in its second year - Saudi Arabia’s Next World forum in Riyadh on August 30 and 31.
Next World Forum brings a bold new look to the country’s plans with a series of talks, demos and networking opportunities for those in the gaming space and allied trades.
So what did day two have in store? Here are the highlights.
Although the headline names yesterday were of course celebrities such as Gareth Bale and Michael Bay, day two settled into a groove of big name business talking up the future of the metaverse, AI, blockchain, and the presence of politics and importance of localisation in games.
The Saudi Esports Federation, one of the most prominent organizations in esports and gaming for the country saw CEO Turki Al Fazwan chatting about the progress of the group. ESL Faceit Group finished the day by talking about their acquisition journey under Savvy Games group, and were preceded by an intriguing talk on the value of localisation.
As with many conferences, day two is the calm after the storm, but no less populated with interesting industry figures, making themselves more accessible now that the crowds have subsided. With the focus squarely on intriguing - and controversial - topics such as AI, it’s clear that day two is where the most stimulating and broader topic talks are situated for those dedicated followers of the industry.
One Key Quote
“[Esports facilities] are much more than a percent chance to win, it professionalises the industry” - Mike Milanov, Advisory board member, Qiddiya.
The inaugural talk for day two was the unusual but still important discussion around esports facilities entitled “The players deserve better: The future of gaming and esports facilities”. With the rise of esports in regions such as SEA, India and MENA on all platforms, including mobile, the subject of the training facilities for esports athletes has intensified.
Previously, on almost all platforms the arrangement for esports athletes have been adhoc. 'Gamer houses' - large residential complexes where gamers worked, lived, slept and practiced in the same building - have been the go-to arrangement. High-performing groups such as FaZe Clan are a prime example of one such team training in such a way. But increasingly esports athletes are being treated more like physical athletes, and that includes the provision of physical therapists, meal-plans and more familiar ‘digital’ requirements such as high-speed internet connectivity.
Milanov was joined on the panel by big names such as director of strategy for Qiddiya, Arnab Bhattacharya, Ex-CEO of Team Heroic, Joachim Haraldsen and probably the biggest name of all, famous Saudi Arabian esports star Mosaad Aldossary, as they discussed the changing face of esports facilities.
It was noted how installations such as Qiddiya are seeking to build internationally attractive esports facilities, including year-round event calendars.
With day two at a close it’s sadly the end of an action-packed two days in Saudi Arabia. But with PGC set to return this year to the region, you can rest assured that we’ll get more insight into this exciting market and beyond at PGC Helsinki 2023, and our next show in Jordan!
But for now, we hope to see you in Helsinki, September 12 - 13!