RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s growing army of video game players has received a further boost with world-leading games festival Insomnia making its Saudi debut as part of Riyadh Season.
The four-day gaming expo will run until Nov. 30 at the Riyadh Expo Center in the city’s Front.
Insomnia Gaming, the UK’s biggest video games festival, said that the electronic sports (e-sports) market in the Middle East and North Africa region is growing by about 25 percent every year, the fastest rate in the world.
In 2018, Insomnia signed a multi-year agreement to bring the festival to the region, starting with Cairo, then Dubai and now Riyadh.
Azzam Al-Omran, Riyadh’s Front Zone manager, said that Saudi Arabia “is a great location for Insomnia to break ground.”
“The gaming industry in Saudi Arabia keeps getting bigger and bigger,” he told Arab News.
“There is a local precedent for gaming events in the country, with past events such as Gamers’ Day and Gamers’ Con. So it was easy for us to localize the event, bringing some of the best players in the world.”
Casual and professional gamers can enjoy a variety of activities that appeal to gamers of all ages.
Major e-sports companies have set up booths where players can test out the latest tech and see the latest developments in the sport.
Some of the year’s most popular tournament games, such as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Fortnite, Overwatch, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare are also available.
Younger audiences can sample the latest additions to the Pokemon franchise, Pokemon Let’s Go! and Pokemon Sword and Shield, seated comfortably under a giant inflatable Pikachu as they enjoy the game on Nintendo’s latest console offering, the Nintendo Switch.
The event features a series of competitions, with all of the available player-versus-player games getting their own tournaments.
Prizes range from SR9,374 ($2,500) to SR33,750, and registration is open to anyone with a ticket.
The expo’s featured guests include members of the FaZe Clan, one of the world’s biggest names in e-sports.
The team will be available for meet-and-greets, and will give out tournament prizes.
Insomnia also offers other types of entertainment, and is sponsoring two cosplay contests — one for professionals aged 16 and above, and the other for amateurs aged 12 and above.
The gaming festival also features a stage with shows, dance performances, skits and tributes to famous video games, BMX bike and skateboard performances and a lip sync battle.
Tickets to Insomnia are available on the official festival website.
The expo is open daily from 4 p.m. to midnight.