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Overview: E Gaming and its Overarching Legality in the UAE

Published on : 06 Nov 2021

E Gaming and its Overarching Legality in the UAE

The term "e-Gaming" refers to the entire computer gaming market, which includes everything from video game consoles to PC and smartphone games, as well as internet entertainment platforms and the eSports industry.

Likewise, first-person shooter (FPS), multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA), and battle royale games are the most common forms of e-Gaming games. Some of the games that are played in e-Gaming competitions and other gaming and eSports activities around the world include Dota, Counterstrike, StarCraft, and Overwatch.

The inception of the concept of e-gaming began in the early 2000s. However, the concept of competitive e-gaming can be traced back to the early '70s, where groups of students gathered to play 'space war', a period-correct game of the time—likewise, e-gaming streaming networks like Twitch. Tv has started investing in venues and rights to broadcast events. This injection of cash, combined with well-established game styles, has paved the way for gaming's rapid expansion.

Understanding the Commercial Appeal of E-Gaming

The industry's appeal comes from many of the same positions as professional sports, with a few main differences. The key difference being the games' analytics that is specific and targeted, in turn giving e- Gamers more opportunities to participate with statistics, monitor success, play against peers, and improve their gaming skills.

Likewise, this appeal extends to the promoters, business interests, and advertisers. Increased viewing results in a significant increase in revenue than can be raised in conventional ways, and the data gathered from this captive audience allows for the targeting of promotions to certain audiences.

Moreover, the global appeal of e-gaming leads to more global sales prospects, which will usually necessitate dedicated alliances and global broadcasting agreements. Many of these expenses and contract problems are decentralized due to the online existence of most eSports. One of the biggest benefits of the eSports industry over other types of professional sports is that it is less expensive.

The gaming industry has reacted with vigour to this newly increased market demand. It has also proactively introduced new eSports competitions and tournaments while streaming platforms have raced to create and release new games by inking lucrative agreements with their biggest content producers.

In recent months, cloud computing sites have proliferated, with Facebook unveiling a dedicated gaming app to compete with Twitch and YouTube. The gradual upgrade of the supporting infrastructure has stimulated the growth of cloud gaming. Likewise, BT, a British telecommunications provider, has teamed up with Google to provide cloud gaming.

Meanwhile, industry players are preparing significant investments in product pipelines as well as mergers and acquisitions in order to consolidate intellectual property and expand, especially in casual gaming, whose popularity has grown through the lockdown.

Likewise, another key dissimilarity between e-gaming and conventional sports is the element of inclusivity. It is notable that there is no specificity as to certain physical, with e-sports being more egalitarian, which in turn attracts a broader range of players. However, a high level of ability and reactive capability is required.

Similarly, by 2021, the GCC e-gaming industry will be worth $821 million (Dh3 billion), nearly $130 million more than it was in 2017, providing opportunities for regional telecommunications firms looking to diversify their revenue sources. Moreover, being the second-largest Arab economy, the UAE was the region's largest e-gaming market in 2019, but Saudi Arabia is expected to overtake it this year, according to the study.

On the contrary, relying only on infrastructure upgrades runs the risk of being an own target. Operators will help other businesses enjoy the profits of gaming by focusing solely on technology, although they will be limited to spectators. Instead, operators can monetize their technology assets by gaming. For instance, as e-gaming necessitates high-speed, low-latency networks, the launch of 5G is critical. Operators will form alliances with cloud gaming firms as they launch 5G, taking the prize with both hands. Operators will then provide quality gaming to their current and future subscribers on every platform.

Operators grappling with a reduction in voice market sales will profit from the growth of the e-gaming sector, which will have new revenue sources. The opportunity to enter and succeed in the GCC gaming industry prompt a greater brand placement for telecom brands while potentially increasing customer satisfaction.NFTs or Non Fungible Tokens and Blockchain games are being hailed as future of gaming industry. After all, crypto has changed the commercial landscape for gaming industry. In contrast to pay-to-play has now turned in to play-to-earn whereby instead of user buying a game or spend money on free-to-play title, the games these days award user to play it, often with other built-in incenstives to rewards users time.

Further, in an effort to support e-gaming and inspire non-gamers to enter the ecosystem, Etisalat, a UAE based telecom operator, has launched the region's first cloud gaming service

Revenue Streams through E- Gaming

Gaming is arguably the most lucrative medium of entertainment in the world, with mobile gaming, e-sports streaming, console sales, and more all contributing to the industry's profitability. The gaming industry is worth $148.8 billion globally, with the Middle East and Africa sector accounting for $4.8 billion. 

E-Gaming generates revenue in a variety of areas. The majority of the money comes from game developers. To fans and gamers alike, developers offer game units or extra piecemeal sales in the games, such as DLC. Tournaments and broadcasts double as advertisements for the product.

Similarly, to gain Overwatch's exclusive streaming rights, twitch paid $17 million, in turn pointing to the lucrative side of e-gaming. Likewise, due to its increasing prize pools, e- gamers can now rely on competitions for a living. These prize pools are further widened by tournament hosts, game companies, and the selling of passes and merchandise.

Regional E-Gaming Viewership Statistics

In the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, and Saudi Arabia, over 4.4 million people tuned in to thousands of outlets, with 556,391 views seen in May. Throughout the year, the video network, which helps users to live-stream their gameplay to fans all over the world, reported a total of 252,850 concurrent streams from countries all over the region.

Arabic Twitch streams rose in viewership by 95.3 per cent year over year and 36.9% month over month in March, while the annual rise was 109.9 per cent in April. Following a fall in viewership, as the #StayHome limits were relaxed, the numbers soared again at the end of last year, with 572,143 viewers tuning in.

Domestic Developments in the UAE

The newly unveiled Abu Dhabi Gaming (AD Gaming) partnership is a new project spearheaded by twofour54 Abu Dhabi that brings together the Emirate's efforts to create a vibrant gaming and esports ecosystem.

AD Gaming will provide a robust support framework for game makers, players, customers, and companies. The project will promote regional talent growth and introduce a year-round schedule of gaming activities to Abu Dhabi.

Moreover, AD Gaming will provide a robust support framework for game makers, players, customers, and companies. The project will promote regional talent growth and introduce a year-round schedule of gaming activities to Abu Dhabi.

Similarly, the Emirates Esports Association, Boss Bunny, Kashkool Games, Khousouf Games, and RobocomVR are among the 15 emerging gaming and esports companies that will join Yas Creative Hub when it opens in Q4 2021, according to AD Gaming.

The new creative hub will include a purpose-built Gaming Hub, which will be run in collaboration with business giant Unity Technologies and will serve as a physical home for Abu Dhabi's gaming industry. A variety of talent acquisition and market assistance programs will be offered to start-ups and aspiring professionals in the field.

Similarly, AD Gaming will also be launching, which will be a portal website for gamers in the UAE gaming industry. This portal will include an esports activities schedule as well as a list of Abu Dhabi-based game studios and businesses. AD Gaming will also have a dedicated twitch channel where domestic gaming talent will be highlighted.

Likewise, the Ras Al Khaimah based RAKEZ has also launched gaming business setup packages that include 18 main and support operation operations. Similarly, it has also been revealed that individuals intending to set up a gaming company would be in place to receive 3-year UAE residency visas for AED 7,725.

Furthermore, the package's renewal rate will remain the same for the duration of the business's life. Likewise, Investors can use their primary license to operate under a maximum of three activities while gaining access to the RAKEZ Compass Coworking Centre, which provides open or private workstations as well as the ability to network and connect with other professionals. Moreover, investors from across the gaming supply chain, including tech and hardware manufacturers, distributors, subscription media companies, and support services providers, can take advantage of the bundle.

Additionally, operators can make their brand more appealing to consumers is to invest in localizing content and making games. They can either build the requisite technologies in-house or create alliances with regional game developers to adapt global games to the GCC's language and culture.

E – Gaming and its Legal Viability in the UAE

The e-gaming boom has been seen by telecom operators Etisalat and Du as an opportunity to boost data use and sales. Etisalat unveiled the first cloud gaming service in the UAE in 2019 to support e-gaming.

However, certain legal constraints tend to arise in this domain when one draws a Venn diagram between e-gaming and gambling, of which the latter is illegal in the UAE, whereby the points of convergence include cross-marketing of gambling and a gradual introduction to gambling like features.

Likewise, in collaboration with the National Media Council, Etisalat, and Du, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has adopted the Internet Access Management Regulatory Policy.

This policy consists of several internet frameworks and categories that must be considered by UAE internet service providers in order to guarantee internet protection and shield end-users from inappropriate websites that contain materials that are counter to the UAE's moral and ethical standards, like gambling.

Furthermore, the UAE government has established a set of national guidelines for media content, which mandates that all local mass media institutions operating in the UAE adhere to them. As a result, all local mass media institutions operating in the UAE must not only honour the UAE's regime, symbols, and political structure but also refrain from violating the UAE's Islamic values.

Likewise, under Article 414 of the UAE Penal Code, anyone caught gambling face up to two years in jail or a fine of up to Dhs20,000 and a certainty of detention. Likewise, according to Article 415 of the UAE Penal Code, anybody caught operating a gambling enterprise in the form of a venue or in a public place faces a mandatory sentence of ten years in jail. Similarly, under Article 121 of the UAE Penal Code, an international gambler's custodial sentence can be amended by the court to expulsion from the UAE.

Furthermore, individuals who promote online gambling or any other content considered to have the potential to prejudice public morality are punished under Article 17 of the Cyber Crime Law. Anyone found supervising, establishing, or operating gambling websites face imprisonment and a fine ranging from Dhs250,000 to Dhs500,000.

Understanding Censorship

The UAE, just like the other countries in the region, have been steadfast in censoring content and content creators that have the possibility of hurting local cultural sentiments and national image.

To this note, the National Media Council (NMC) is responsible for monitoring the content of materials published in the country, including electronic games. More specifically, the NMC had played a crucial role in banning the game ‘Spec Ops’ for its damaging and incorrect representation of Dubai through its gaming maps.

Similarly, NMC banned the sales of the globally popular game Grand Theft Auto, as it violated common cultural and Islamic values pertinent to the country and the region. Alternatively, the UAE's has prompted its content creators to self-regulate under the country's cultural, social, and legal constraints.

UAE’s Strides in Promoting Gaming

The booming gaming industry in the UAE is something that Twofour54, a local content creation company, has been receptive to. The company has also partnered with gaming giants like Ubisoft to open a games production studio in Abu Dhabi.

Conclusively, it is evident that the UAE has been making positive steps towards promoting and regulating e-gaming within the country. As mentioned earlier, the sector highlights great opportunities while also shining a light on potential pitfalls. Hence, balancing both interests through a solid legislative structure will spur this area towards greater economic growth while hindering its capability to generate 'immoral income', through gambling etc.


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