JEDDAH: Entrepreneurs and professionals in Saudi Arabia’s gaming sector were introduced on Tuesday to the Japanese side of the business during a special seminar staged in the Kingdom.

The Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) hosted the event titled “Game Development and Business Opportunities in Japan,” which was presented by Prof. Koji Mikami, from Tokyo University of Technology’s school of media science.

The professor discussed the development and current status of the industry in Japan and worldwide, and also spoke about game education in his country.

The seminar began with an opening speech by JCCI Assistant Secretary-General Mazin Kutbi followed by an address from
Japan’s consul general in Jeddah, Masayuki Miyamoto.

“I think the two countries (Japan and Saudi Arabia) share the same Eastern values,” said Miyamoto. “This is a good opportunity to exchange views and engage in fruitful discussions.”

During the conference, Mikami highlighted similarities between the gaming culture in Japan and Saudi Arabia, most notably the public willingness and desire to spend on entertainment.

The professor noted that a recent Newzoo report had placed Japan third in the world, after China and the US, for game consumer revenues in 2019. However, he said Japan’s population was only one-fifth of China’s and one-third of America’s, while its revenues of $18.6 billion were 52 percent of those of China and the US (around $35.5 billion).

The figures were based on consumer spending in each country and excluded hardware sales, tax and business-to-business services, etc.

According to Mikami, Saudi Arabia’s gaming market has huge potential to become a good source of revenue.

“Saudi Arabia’s market is one of the rapidly growing markets in the region and is a high-density market for a small population,” he added. “I think Saudi Arabia has the same case as Japan, people pay a lot to play games.”

He advised academics to collaborate with the industry and step up research and development to help define and understand the domestic market and grow it in the right way. “Research doesn’t make an immediate impact on the market, but it contributes to building its future.”

He also suggested that academics should not only follow the current demands of the market but also create its future needs.

“Students can easily learn about the market’s current needs online. Professors need to focus on teaching them how to impact the future and create their original market.”

Many gaming enthusiasts were among the audience, including business owners, young entrepreneurs and market professionals.

One delegate, Mashael Abul-Naja, an independent game developer, said the seminar, the first of its kind to be held in Jeddah, had been “very informative.”

She told Arab News: “I have newly joined the market and have begun working on my own games. I am here to gain ideas on how to start and what to do, and what kind of business model I should follow.”

Abul-Naja added that while the Kingdom had a lot of talent in the field of gaming development, it was not given enough exposure to the market and individuals needed support and real opportunities.

Freelance business developer and award-winning apps designer, Eman Nahas, said the event had provided a “golden opportunity” to meet with professionals and take her business to another level.

“I realigned many new ideas that can help me develop my pending game plans. I have been working on a virtual-reality game for the past year, but I needed a little help with a few things, and I think I found what I needed today,” she told Arab News.

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