NEOM, MBC Group to set up MidEast’s 1st AAA games development studio

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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Officials from NEOM & MBC Group during the signing ceremony.

MBC Group, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s biggest broadcaster, has formed a joint venture (JV) with NEOM, Saudi Arabia’s megacity project, to establish the first AAA games development studio in the Middle East.

The studio, currently being incubated with developers from all over the world, will relocate to NEOM’s Media Hub in 2023 and produce high-production-value games for local, regional and international gamers.

The partnership highlights NEOM’s push to develop a new center for the region’s media and creative industries by setting up a physically and technologically integrated creative media hub focused on screen production, gaming and digital publishing.

The AAA gaming studio will form a key part of the NEOM Media Hub, facilitating the continued growth of this rapidly expanding industry. AAA is a classification within the gaming industry that labels games produced and distributed by midsized or big publishers that usually have higher budgets.

Nadhmi Al Nasr
Nadhmi Al Nasr

“The future that NEOM envisions is being achieved through effective partnerships with various specialized entities. This is reflected in our agreement with MBC to establish a AAA gaming studio in NEOM. We know there is a growing convergence between gaming and the media sector more broadly, so by building one we are helping the other grow. Establishing this studio creates future-proof career paths and job opportunities in an environment that fosters creativity, entrepreneurship and talent development, in line with Saudi Vision 2030. We are now developing promising opportunities locally, regionally and globally by nurturing the Saudi game-development market.”

MBC GROUP is leading the development of new media industries that will further diversify the Saudi economy while providing exciting career paths for future generations. By attracting global talents to Saudi Arabia, the gaming studio will create opportunities for regional gamers and developers seeking to build a career in the industry.

Further to the core studio disciplines of game design, programming, art and audio production, the studio is expected to create significant job opportunities across many directly linked industries inclusive of distribution, marketing, publishing and supporting services. The studio will equip the regional industry to share its works with the world.

Mr. Waleed Al Ibrahim, Chairman of MBC Group, remarked that “Our partnership with NEOM unlocks new opportunities in the region’s media industry, which will enable Saudi Arabia to emerge as a leading global media hub. MBC will put all of its expertise behind this project to become an economic and technical incubator for a new generation of media talent, in keeping with the Kingdom’s efforts to support all aspects of the industry.”

Even though the size of the gaming market in the MENA has reached $6 billion in 2021, the region’s contributions towards the global gaming development is comparatively low, underscoring the potential for this new gaming studio in NEOM to develop the sector in Saudi Arabia.

The partnership between NEOM and MBC to launch the first AAA gaming studio in the region is a continuation of their collaboration across the media sector, in parallel with Saudi Arabia’s focus on supporting the media and production industry.

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