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How To Enter (and Win!) the $150Bn Gaming Industry, With Yousef BuHazza

Updated: Apr 16

Episode 7: How to Enter and Win the $150bn Gaming Industry with Yousef BuHazza

In this episode, we sit down with Yousef BuHazza, who is an active advocate of the gaming industry in the Middle East through Unreal Bahrain, to hear his insights on the gaming and e-sports industry. We discuss:

  1. What makes a successful game

  2. What you need to do to develop a game

  3. How to operate e-sports tournaments

  4. How to train to participate in e-sports

Unless you're a gamer, why should you care about the gaming industry?

The gaming industry is huge, to say the least (valued at $150 billion globally). The gaming industry has been the ONLY industry that has grown consistently since 2000 (out-riding the 2001 dot-com bubble and 2008/9 recession). However, only 3% of its value is attributed to the Middle East; the industry in the region is not mature, relative to other global markets.

Well, what contributes to a mature gaming industry in a region?

  1. Game development companies who know how to develop and sell games successfully (mentioned regional developers are Semaphore and Sandsoft, both in Saudi Arabia)

  2. Investors who undertake the returns of investing in games (extended 3-year time horizon and high level of risk)

  3. Skilled resources (across business, design, and development)

So you're sold on the opportunity. Now, how do you go about developing a game?

  1. Come up with an idea (either inspired or original)

  2. Identify your resources (e.g. storytelling, graphics, music)

  3. Purchase or create your own assets throughout production (the latter will ensure time saved and quality of output)

  4. Leverage a gaming engine (you can find one online, but beware: it can take 3-6 months to master the know-how of the engine)

  5. Develop your working prototype (tip: your first attempt at a game should not exceed 2 hours)

  6. Showcase to people to get feedback and refine

  7. Plug your game under an indie studio brand

  8. Approach investors for funding

  9. Launch and go hard on marketing!

Don't stress over the technical side of development, there are plenty of self-help resources across the web. The knowledge gap to make a game successful is really the marketing know-how.

You can even consider applying your gamification desires to non-gaming industries, such as FinTech & EdTech, with the purpose of making a task easier or more fun.

"Knowledge is being shared in the cyberspace everyday"

Can e-sports gamers' careers be compared to professional athletes'?

Well, they're definitely earning more! If you're competing in a Dota tournament, a prize pool of USD 30 million is up for grabs. How do you get good enough to compete?

  1. Practice, practice, practice

  2. Get recognized through competitions

  3. Consider a coach

Spectating at e-sports tournaments is made possible through:

  1. Streaming services and platforms (e.g. Twitch)

  2. Games being developed to be more engaging over the years

  3. Fan hype

Think you're the only one with FOMO for not being a part of this billion-dollar industry?

Other industries are tuning into the gaming opportunity, such as:

  1. Music (Travis Scott performed to an audience of 12 million people in April 2020, amidst the COVID-19 lockdowns, on Fortnite, a platform that at one point had 200 million concurrent users playing at the same time).

  2. Fashion (Burberry is experimenting with their own game “B Surf”, meanwhile Air Jordan shoes & Uniqlo are selling digital versions of their products within games).

And why should brands care? Because gamers become invested in their gaming avatars and want to impress others with them!

Spark! Studios blog

A big thanks to Yousef BuHazza who is the Founder of Unreal Bahrain

Follow them on social media to stay up to date with their activities.

  • Meetups to showcase games and discuss progress and challenges

  • Game jams that challenge aspiring developers to build games in a certain time frame

  • Organize game events, e.g. Comic-Con

  • Partnerships with universities, school etc. to build the gaming ecosystem regionally


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