The global gaming market has achieved unprecedented growth over the last eight years. According to Newzoo, the market that was worth nearly $71 billion in 2012 will achieve revenues of more than $180 billion in 2021. As this sector has grown, regions across the globe have seen their own smaller gaming markets emerge. The Middle East is one such area that has seen an influx of gaming startups that have developed exciting titles, connected entire communities of gamers, and supported the work of other industry players.
Here’s a look at seven of the coolest gaming startups that the Middle East has to offer:
Since its inception in 2015, Cryptyd has developed more than half a dozen games for mobile users. The startup focuses on pairing high-quality graphics with thrilling gameplay in each of its titles. Headquartered in Alexandria, Egypt, Cryptyd has created several games that target users in the MENA region, but it has also catered to global audiences with some of its titles. Most recently, the startup’s team has been working on its latest intellectual property, a multiplayer title called Cyberpunk.
Outside of game development, Cryptyd provides gaming-related services to others in the industry. The team frequently works with companies to provide art services for 2D and 3D developments. Cryptyd also specializes in localization and can help other developers optimize their titles for release in the MENA region. Those seeking comprehensive game design or development services can also work with the Cryptyd team to meet their needs.
BeeLabs is a leading developer of fun, educational mobile games for kids of all ages. Located in Amman, Jordan, it has developed a wide range of multilingual titles that provide both edutainment and more traditional gaming experiences to its audience. BeeLabs’ Karim and Jana, an iOS and Android app, helps young kids learn numbers and shapes. Other titles, like ShibShib War, pit players against alien invaders. However, BeeLabs is perhaps best known for DomDom Tak, which won the Jordan Application of the Year Award in 2014.
Lebanese entrepreneur Ziad Talge leveraged his lifelong passion for art and pop culture to establish Yayy, a gaming studio that develops exciting titles for mobile users. The startup hopes to become a major source of gaming media in the Middle East, with local talent developing content for users both in the region and across the globe. Since 2016, Yayy has released more than seven mobile games, from fantasy titles like Conquerors of the Realm to simulation games like Unicorn Slayer. The studio has tested several of its games in the U.S. and achieved similar performance to many of the most popular titles on the market.
Launched in 2011, the Beirut, Lebanon-based GameCooks began as a developer of mobile games but has since expanded into a myriad of other platforms. One of the startup’s earliest releases, a memory game called Deja Vu, became the top iOS game among audiences in Europe and South America mere weeks after its debut. In the years since, GameCooks has published more than a dozen other titles for both mobile devices and PCs. These games have garnered the startup over 10 gaming awards. More recently, GameCooks moved into the realm of virtual reality, for which it quickly developed five games.
GameCooks has also moved beyond traditional gaming, expanding its portfolio to include lottery and betting titles. These solutions facilitate both live and digital betting experiences for lovers of sports, horse racing, and more.
Egypt’s premier e-sports startup, GBarena allows gamers to connect with one another online and participate in thrilling challenges. The company works with tournament organizers from across the globe, helping them to set up and manage game tournaments. Toward this end, GBarena assists them in choosing moderators, distributing sign-up forms, finding players, and more. The startup also helps organizers find sponsors to support their tournaments.
Gamers that are looking to participate in tournaments can search for upcoming events by game titles. Using this information, GBarena provides them with a list of available events both online and in person.
Jordanian startup Tamatem is a unique entity in the MENA gaming sector. Instead of developing its own games, it partners with game developers across the MENA region and beyond to help them publish their titles in the local market. To date, the startup has published over 50 games in every genre ranging from massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) to trivia.
Tamatem focuses primarily on localizing developers’ mobile games so they can provide Arab users with titles that cater to their language and culture. The startup can also help its clients optimize their app store listings so more users will find their games. To boost user engagement further, Tamatem handles all facets of social media and influencer marketing. Developers can then track their game’s data using Tamatem’s analytics software, which enables them to broaden their audience even further.
The founders of Falafel Games sought to create a revolutionary gaming company that focuses on Arab culture. Launched in 2008 in Abu Dhabi, the startup was the first of its kind to put this unique spin on gaming, employing a team of Arab developers that created titles for an Arab audience. In the past, Falafel Games has released MMORPGs like Under Siege and Quraish, which are optimized for play in Internet browsers.
In recent years, however, Falafel Games has shifted its focus to helping other game developers produce their own titles. The startup provides monetization, localization, and marketing services to those who want to bring their games to the Arab region.