From Emirates NBD to du, big brands go after gamers

Big brands were out in force at the Dubai Esports & Games Festival 2023.

Billed as the region’s biggest ever esports and games festival, the five-day event included a GameExpo and a summit for industry leaders to connect and discuss trends from AI to the metaverse.

GameExpo included the du Gamers District as the telecoms company extended its branding, while KitKat and Vox were both involved in esports tournaments,

Banking group Emirates NBD sponsored the ‘Future Zone’ which allowed gamers to try their hand at the new and latest releases.

There were also more than 20 gaming brands present at the festival including Xbox, Ubisoft, Capcom, Playstation, Teleios, Moonton and RedBull. While influencers including MiniMinter and AboFlah attended the event.

Dubai Police was also involved, hosting FIFA 23 and Valorant tournaments for skilled virtual footballers and FPS players to showcase their talents .

State investment

The Middle East is keen  to put itself on the map in terms of gaming and esports, with significant government investments.

More than $3 billion was invested in the industry by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) last year, as part of a bigger $38 billion commitment by PIF to be used by its gaming vehicle Savvy Games Group (SGG).

A number of acquisitions have already been made in gaming companies by the PIF including Embracer Group and Scopely.

Klaus Kajetski, CEO and founder of YaLLa Esports, said: “I would say the most interesting brand I saw was Dubai Police. They are huge in gaming and use gaming for internal training but also wants to connect with gamers, positioning the police as gamer-friendly, and hence a easy approachable entity for the youth which I really liked.”

He was also surprised at the high level of interest for setting up gaming-related companies from aspiring young entrepreneurs.

“I think gaming is a perfect combination of tech, entertainment and art. There are now a lot of new entrepreneurs from all three spaces looking to create new valuable companies and solutions within the gaming space.”

The festival was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Media Council,