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One of the few sectors which have been positively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic; achieving robust growth as a result of spikes in consumer demand during the lockdown is gaming. According to GfK Point of Sales tracking of the sector in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, the first six months revenue generated by gaming hardware surged by 29 percent to bring the overall value of the market to $256 million.

Gaming notebooks (32%), video game consoles (31%), and gaming and leisure devices (17%) account for the top three largest shares of the pie, contributing over $207 million to this sector in January to June 2020. During this period, the fastest-growing categories were gaming monitors and gaming keyboards/mice, which generated 110 and 77 percent respectively more sales revenue compared to the same period last year. Exponential growth was also recorded for gaming notebooks and gaming headsets, which both reported a 60 percent surge in sales value.

Growth in the gaming segments tracked by GfK has sustained post lockdown in the two markets. Findings in the second-quarter reflected devices such as gaming monitors and keyboards continuing to record increased sales by over twofold (+155% and +135%), while regular monitors (-22%) and keyboards (12%) either decelerated in growth or slipped into decline. Similar trends can be seen across other products such as notebooks, headsets, peripherals, etc.

“At the onset of the global pandemic, we witnessed the emergence of diverse trends in the technical consumer goods markets, sequenced over multiple phases – panic, adapt and new normal,” highlighted Shika Samuel, Analyst for IT panel at GfK. “We observed consumers warming up their appetite for gaming devices as they started exploring socially-distant ways to keep themselves occupied and amused amid the pandemic lockdown.”

According to the GfK Consumer Pulse survey conducted in the midst of the lockdown, nearly half (46%) of all respondents surveyed in Saudi Arabia said they dedicated more of their leisure time into gaming than usual during the COVID-19 lockdown. More than half (51%) of the respondents also indicated playing video-games as one of their key sources of indoor entertainment, ranking it a more prevalent option than others such as listening to the radio (30%), watching sports (37%), streaming music (49%) and videos-on-demand (50%) and just below the more traditional option of watching movie/series (71%).

One of the many innovations of gaming devices today which has gained significant popularity with gamers is the capability to provide an immersive experience, specifically to real-life events/sports through AR and VR Gaming devices. During the pandemic, Indoor VR workouts and sports are popularly used to keep fit while staying indoor during the lockdown. Based on the GfK point of sales tracking, the virtual reality industry in the United Arab Emirates in the first half of 2020 achieved a total value of USD 1.5 million—representing a growth of 46 from the same period in 2019.

“Technological developments and innovations in the digital space, including the highly-anticipated rollout of 5G will continue to fuel the rapid growth of gaming globally, post-pandemic,” said Samuel. “In the constantly evolving and very competitive marketplace, it is important for brands and businesses to have a good understanding of their gamers and what makes them tick, in order to succeed in the gaming industry,” she concluded.

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