Dubai, UAE: With the number of gamers in MENA’s three largest markets (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt) expected to reach 86 million by 2025, top global brands are looking for innovative and creative concepts to reach this lucrative audience.

The month of Ramadan brings added opportunity for brands to target the gaming community as past research shows audiences turn to their mobiles, and specifically gaming, for entertainment during the holy month when working hours are cut, schools are on vacation and people find themselves with double the amount of free time.

Research conducted by adcolony and GWI during Ramadan found that 50% of respondents in KSA spends 1-3 hours online on their smartphones and 48% of them state they spend 30 minutes to 2 hours playing mobile games daily during the holy month, with the most preferred time to play mobile games being between 12pm to 6pm. Over the holy month this equates to individuals spending 15 to 60 hours playing mobile games.

UAE-based Power League Gaming (PLG), an insight and data driven, full-service gaming and eSports company, have worked with some of world’s leading brands across a wide spectrum of industries, from F&B, consumer technology to beauty brands, throughout this Ramadan to expand their presence amongst the  gaming community.  This moves beyond serving advertisements and into the engineering of omni-channel gaming experience and content ecosystems.

Matt Pickering, Power League Gaming CEO, said: “For brands across industries, Ramadan is one of the most important periods of the year to reach consumers and our Clients are now turning to gaming as an effective tool for doing so. The Gaming and eSports sectors, which have shown further sustained YOY growth, with estimates on the past 12 months at CGAR 13.8%, annually peak during the holy month of Ramadan, creating an optimal ecosystem for brands to reach customers, the majority of this audience being Gen Z, a notoriously tough demographic resonate with.”

One of the brands whic has activated over Ramadan is STC Bahrain, exclusively targeting the Bahraini gaming audience. Bahrain has been one of the most significant players emerging as a regional gaming hub. The country has recognized the potential of the gaming industry and have built an ecosystem with ambitious companies ready to take full advantage of the MENA’s $5.9 billion gaming market.

PLG and the Bahraini digital enabler launched their second tournament to position the brand within the growing gaming audience during Ramadan. After analysis of data driven insights on the most popular games in Bahrain, the second tournament was a Call of Duty Warzone competition to maximise brand awareness in the gaming sector.

PLG have also partnered with a globally renowned technology company to launch a campaign focused around activating MENA’s gaming community. An integrated campaign, ‘AppGallery Gamers Cup’ registered 384 of the region’s finest Free Fire teams, with the final stage of eSports action covered by five live streams and broadcasted from an immersive virtual studio to a global gaming audience.

The MENA region has an impressive and ever strenghtning female gaming population, with many female Arab gamers proving they are more-than-a-match for their male counterparts in the $5.9 billion industry (MENA). With 44% per cent of the MENA market identifying as females, they are an essential demographic to uniquely target, which PLG activates through its ‘Miss Esports’ and ‘Saudi Girl Gamer’ platforms.

Pickering added: “This Ramadan we have also worked with a leading beauty brand to connect them with the impressive regional female gaming demographic. We directly targeted them by launching a tournament - ‘Show Your Spark Challenge featuring Fortnite’  and content platform, promoted across the MENA region, exclusively for females with a $12,000 prize pool, furthering opportunities for the female gaming segment to present their skills on the regional stage. It’s essential for brands to still target the right demographic within the gaming community, depending on who their target audience is will influence the platforms, games and promotions utilized.”

Others are not only utilizing the Ramadan timing to target consumers, but are also making more of a concerted effort to include the Muslim celebration within games and events. In-game events are often based on real-world celebrations to emotionally resonate with the gamer, for example Christmas is represented in varying forms within multiple high-profile games. However, Ramadan and Eid, events observed and celebrated by Muslims, the second largest religious population on the planet, has often been left out. The gaming community are beginning to make subtle efforts to change this with lantern themed events inspired by Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr celebrations. PLG recognises this as an important element for game developers and brands to further improve on in the years to come.