Esports and gaming in general have become an integral part of the Saudi Arabian government’s drive to diversify the country’s dependence on oil. Now thanks to the growing investment in the industry – events like Gamers8 are possible – where eSports professionals from around the world compete on an international level for several titles for big prize pools.
We had the opportunity to interview His Royal Highness Prince Faisal Bin Bandar Al Saud, Chairman of the Saudi Arabian esports Federation on how this Gamers8 season went, what he thinks about esports painting a new story for the “creator economy” and if India and Saudi -Arabia can cooperate in the field of e-sports.
Speaking to ReturnByte Tech, HRH Prince Faisal said that this year’s Gamers8 has been a “great season”, with a total of “12 tournaments across different games” at the event, which will run for a total of 8 weeks. He notes that while this season was heavy in terms of work and competitiveness, “at the end of the day, an opportunity to bring people together, an opportunity to have people come here (Gamers8) and see for themselves what’s happening on the field, and an opportunity to showcase our community, our young men and women — and the talent we have here – that’s the heart of it all.”
ReturnByte Tech: How do you see the cooperation opportunities between India and Saudi Arabia in the field of esports?
HRH Prince Faisal Bin Bandar: The Chairman notes that “there is so much room for collaboration. We have been talking to the Indian Federation and the South Asian Federation because there is so much to do and when you talk at the Federation level, it has to be at the grassroots level.” This allows you to “talk to people from different areas, get their point of view and get their point of view.”
He added: “Working with the Indian federation and working with many other federations – not only in tournaments – but also in ‘cultural missions’ where we can come home in some way – we bring the young Saudis to India and see what is happening face to face.”
He also recalled the first time at the Asian Games, when esports was part of the event for the first time. He remembers that “several unions were sitting down, and everyone was a little nervous – and didn’t know what was going on.” He said that’s when some players started talking, exchanging player tags and reminiscing about their playing time. “Suddenly – all these people from thousands of miles away – were friends. That’s something only gaming can do!” he said, noting further that as a union, his role is to facilitate this at the “grassroots level.”
The Gamers8: Land of Heroes event is now over, with a total prize pool of $45 million distributed across different competitions over 8 weeks – from July to September. It was followed by the Next World Forum, where more than 2,500 delegates, industry experts arrived to share their views on gaming, esports, artificial intelligence and how big names like Microsoft can shape the industry.