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Riyadh: Saudi Arabia has become a multibillion-dollar market for gaming and anime, a Misk Global Forum session has heard.

A panel discussion entitled “Anime Meets Controller: The Synergy of Anime,” on the second day of the forum in Riyadh shed light on the Kingdom’s growing community of anime and esports fans.

The discussion featured Shuzo Shiota, president and executive producer of Polygon Pictures; Essam Bukhary, CEO of Manga Productions; and Yves Blehaut, senior vice president of strategic partnerships at French video game company Microids; and was moderated by Daliyah Abuabah. 

During the panel, Manga Production presented its latest game, “Grendizer,” while speakers highlighted the growth of anime and gaming in Saudi Arabia.

“We have 13 million viewers of anime and 23.5 million lovers of games in Saudi Arabia. And the size of the market for video games in Saudi Arabia is $1 billion,” Bukhary said. 

“This market is expected to grow to $13.5 billion for games and esports.” 

“Grendizer” was developed in partnership with the French firm Microids, and Blehaut said that he was surprised by the strong interest in anime in the MENA region. 

“When you try to tap into markets, what’s really important is not the money, it’s not geography, it’s the product. If you don’t have the product, you cannot do anything,” he said. 

Blehaut also discussed the benefits of incorporating an adversary into “Grendizer.”

“Why do a game? It’s because the anime was so powerful in terms of storytelling. The beauty of ‘Grendizer’ is that it carries value that is pretty much worldwide,” he said. 

According to Shiota, the MENA region, especially the audience who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, adore ‘Grendizer’ and its message.

In order for an audience to invest in a story, they must fall in love with the world and the characters of the game or anime, he said. 

Shiota spoke about future collaboration between the Misk Academy and the gaming system. 

“I believe collaboration is the key to understanding each medium’s strength and playing on that strength. And I think it is more and more important now because of the wealth of content that’s available, especially after the streamers have come in, and especially currently, with the predominant medium, which is smartphones, and people enjoying shorter and shorter content.” 

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