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Gaming in Egypt: A Billion-Dollar Industry on the Rise

May 28, 2024
Two people playing PlayStation. Photo credit: Canva

Egypt ranked second only to Saudi Arabia among Arab countries in spending on electronic games in 2023, with a total expenditure of USD 1.71 billion (EGP 80.71 billion), marking a 17 percent increase from the previous year, according to a report by Statista.

The gaming industry, which has been booming since the COVID-19 pandemic, continues to thrive in Egypt, driven by a youthful population and growing internet access.

“I don’t like to lose, so I spend money to get more tries and pass levels,” Radwa Mohamed, 24, told Egyptian Streets. 

A survey conducted by Niko Partners, a market research company specializing in gaming, investigated the three largest gaming markets in the MENA region: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates – collectively called MENA-3. In 2023, MENA-3 recorded 68.4 million players, with Egypt making up 58.5 percent of gamers, totaling 40 million. The fast-growing market of Egypt has a higher percentage of gamers under the age of 25 years compared to the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

When it comes to revenue, Egypt recorded USD 201.6 million (EGP 9.51 billion), accounting for 10.5 percent of the total revenue generated by MENA-3, which totaled USD 1.92 billion (EGP 90.53 billion).

“I’ve been playing games since I was a child, and I’ve played more than 350 games,” Mahmud Ehab, 29, told Egyptian Streets. 

Ehab explained that he plays on PC and Nintendo Switch, and does not spend money monthly often. Yet, on the occasions he does, he could spend from USD 20 (EGP 943) to USD 250 (EGP 11,786) per month, depending on the games available and in-game events in his all-time favorite game, Dota 2. 

“I play Dota 2 every day and I’ve spent more than 12,000 hours playing it, and over USD 4,000 (EGP 188,600) on games,” Ehab stated, adding that he spends money on in-game products in free games or to buy a game altogether.

Despite Egypt’s economic challenges, including an all-time high inflation rate of 38 percent in September 2023, spending money on electronic games is increasing. 

“I spend money on games because I have a great passion for gaming,” Ehab said. “It allows me to enter a complex world where I can move freely without constraints or authority over me.” 

Ehab is not the only video game fanatic or spender. Thirty four out of 1,048 Egyptian gamers surveyed by Statista Consumer Insights in 2023 admitted to making video game purchases.

“I purchase royal crystals that help me level up,” Yasser Ahmed, 28, told Egyptian Streets. “Progressing in the game just gives me an unmatched rush.”

Ahmed plays Lost Ark, an online role-playing game, on PC. Last year, he spent around USD 424 (EGP 20,000). 

“Some months, I spend around USD 42.42 (EGP 2,000), and other times, I don’t spend anything at all,” he shared.

Egypt’s video game market continues to grow rapidly, driven by increased access to the internet and mobile technology. It is projected to generate USD 1.9 billion (EGP 89.5 billion) in revenue in 2024.

As of 2023, the top three most popular games in the MENA-3 are PUBG, EA Sports FC, and Call of Duty, with two-thirds of all gamers playing these games, as reported by Niko. 

“Some of my friends play PUBG, FIFA, and Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) as a way to relieve some stress and relax on their phone,” Moatasem Monib, 25, told Egyptian Streets. He admitted that he does not personally participate in in-game purchasing, but rather downloads free games from the PlayStation Store.

According to Statista, Egyptian gamers play on PC, Xbox, PlayStation, and mobile devices, with the mobile gaming sector experiencing huge growth.

“I play PUBG, Ludo, and Royal Match on my phone,” Mohamed said. “I only spend money on Royal Match and not even every month. I spend money when I can’t level up because a level is too hard.” 

She admitted that after she passes a tough level, the game becomes easier, and she continues to win until another challenging level is encountered. In this case, she purchases more in-game products, depending on offers and discounts, to advance in the game.

“I enjoy playing on my phone and that’s why I spend money, but at the same time, once I get a taste of winning, I can’t lose,” Mohamed said.

The appeal of gaming lies in its ability to offer an immersive escape and a sense of achievement, according to interviewees. This enthusiasm is mirrored in the statistical growth of the industry, with projections indicating continued revenue increases in the coming years.

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