Next World Forum Concludes, Saudi Arabia’s Push for Esports Dominance
The Next World Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, recently came to a close after bringing together industry experts and developers from all over the world to discuss the evolving esports and gaming industry. Held at the Kingdom Centre, the two-day event featured a lineup of esteemed panelists who engaged in discussions covering a wide range of topics.
Among the notable panelists were renowned movie director Michael Bay, internet entrepreneur Gary Vee, and Welsh footballer Gareth Bale. They tackled various subjects, including the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on creative fields like movie making and game development, as well as the potential of gaming to become a future economy.
One panel, titled The Big Fat Acquisition: The legalities of Companies Acquiring Game Studios, explored the potential ramifications of significant gaming acquisitions, such as Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, on the industry as a whole.
Saudi Arabia’s esports federation made it clear during the event that the country is determined to become a major player in the esports and gaming scene. The Next World Forum, along with other similar events, will serve as crucial stepping stones in Saudi Arabia’s quest for dominance in the field.
The panel titled High Score: When the Celebrity Begins to Play in the Industry featured Gareth Bale, Michael Bay, and Gary Vee discussing industry buzzwords such as AI and the implications of celebrities entering the gaming industry. Michael Bay expressed concerns about AI’s lack of soul and its potential to make users lazy, particularly highlighting his worries for his music artist friends. In contrast, Gary Vee championed AI and NFTs, stating that they have the power to change the world and likening their current dismissal to the skepticism surrounding the Internet in the early 2000s. He encouraged people to perceive AI as a thinking partner rather than a job-stealing threat.
Gareth Bale, co-owner of Ellevens esports and a former Real Madrid star, expressed his positivity about esports catching up with traditional football. He also emphasized the opportunities that gaming offers children, allowing them to interact with peers from around the world and pursue their passions.
The first day of the Next World Forum featured the presentation of the Gamers8 Club Awards. The Saudi Arabian team Twisted Minds emerged as the winners, securing a grand prize of $1.5 million. The overall prize pool for the event, titled Gamers8: The Land of Heroes, amounted to a staggering $45 million, the largest in esports history.
During the event, His Royal Highness Prince Faisal Bin Bandar Al Saud, Chairman of the Saudi Esports Federation, delivered a speech outlining Saudi Arabia’s ambition to become a global gaming and esports hub. Hosting events like the Next World Forum is a vital part of the country’s journey towards achieving this goal.
The second day of the forum delved into some of the controversial aspects of esports and gaming, including leadership in the gaming sector. Topics discussed included the future of gaming and esports facilities, conversations between industry changemakers, the impact of politics on gaming, challenges faced by women in gaming leadership, the next chapter for the Saudi Esports Federation, and where to draw the line with AI.
The conclusion of the Next World Forum also marked the end of the annual Gamers8, an eight-week event held in Riyadh. It featured 16 tournaments across 13 esports titles, more than 30 live concert performances, and a plethora of activities, cementing its status as a key event in the gaming calendar.
Saudi Arabia’s commitment to becoming a dominant force in the esports and gaming industry is evident from its hosting of the Next World Forum and its substantial investment in the sector. As the country continues to make strides in this field, it remains poised to shape the future of esports and gaming on a global scale.