CAIRO: Saudi Arabia’s gaming industry is poised for a major uplift with UAE-based esports network True Gamers planning to establish 150 centers in the Kingdom.

Established in 2019, the company aims to make video gaming more accessible by combining entertainment, technology, and competitive elements to offer an immersive experience to a wide range of players.

In an interview with Arab News, Vlad Belyanin, co-founder of True Gamers, discussed the strategic expansion plans for Saudi Arabia — which is expected to double the company’s current network.

“True Gamers has been closely monitoring the burgeoning esports and gaming scene in Saudi Arabia, a key player in the MENA region. Recognizing the tremendous potential of this market, we have embarked on a strategic expansion into the Kingdom, aligning with the ambitious Vision 2030 development plan,” Belyanin said. He further stated that True Gamers has reached a major achievement by signing a master franchise deal with entrepreneur Nawaf Al-Bishri, who has a background in healthcare and investment.  

This collaboration marks a $45 million investment to develop a strong esports infrastructure in Saudi Arabia. It includes launching over 150 True Gamers lounges, significantly enhancing the gaming experience for numerous fans and boosting the country’s growing esports scene.

Game on

The inaugural True Gamers lounge, a cutting-edge facility, is set to open in Jeddah in the first half of 2024. This opening marks the beginning of the company’s ambitious expansion efforts, signaling a new phase of immersive gaming experiences for gamers in Saudi Arabia.

“We are employing a franchise strategy to accelerate our expansion across Saudi Arabia,” Belyanin said, he added, “Furthermore, the True Gamers franchise is open to other market players seeking to collaborate with our proven business model and jointly propel the Kingdom’s esports industry.”

Belyanin stated that True Gamers has established key partnerships with industry leaders like Logitech and BenQ to cater to the Saudi market, ensuring their lounges feature the latest technology for an unparalleled gaming experience.  

He also emphasized the company’s openness to future collaborations with other businesses and organizations to further enhance the Kingdom’s gaming ecosystem and elevate the esports scene.

The company has set a goal to open 10 centers in the Kingdom by the end of 2024 and is optimistic about reaching its target of establishing 150 centers by 2030.

Belyanin mentioned that True Gamers is set to launch a series of local and international esports tournaments in Saudi Arabia, following their successful events in Dubai which drew over 1,500 participants.

“These tournaments aim to inspire the younger generation to develop their gaming and social skills, particularly communication and teamwork,” he added. 

These tournaments aim to inspire the younger generation to develop their gaming and social skills, particularly communication and teamwork.

Vlad Belyanin, Co-founder of True Gamers

Belyanin highlighted that True Gamers’ approach is in sync with the expected growth of Saudi Arabia’s gaming industry, projected to hit $2.8 billion by 2026.

“With an estimated 21 million active gamers, constituting a remarkable 58 percent of the country’s population, the Kingdom presents an unparalleled opportunity for True Gamers to revolutionize the gaming landscape,” he added.

To Saudi Arabia and beyond

The company has also embarked on further expansion plans beyond the Kingdom.

In the UAE, the company is independently establishing new clubs, aiming to open more than nine gaming centers this year by establishing a presence in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

Talks are also underway for a project in Egypt, with prospects of extending to nearby nations such as Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, and Kuwait.

Business fundamentals

Belyanin noted that True Gamers’ clubs offer a variety of amenities, including automobile simulators, PlayStation lounges, and luxurious VIP capsules.  

Their game library features over 120 titles, including popular games like Fortnite and Valorant. Since its launch, True Gamers has grown significantly, expanding to 124 clubs across the UAE and Eastern Europe, generating over $20 million in revenue, and attracting over 450,000 gamers last year.

The company’s commitment to the esports industry is demonstrated by a $13.5 million investment for expansion in the MENA region.

“Additionally, we have invested over $11 million in creating world-class cybersport infrastructure, ensuring our gamers have access to the best equipment and facilities. This dedication led to a 140 percent growth in 2023, increasing the company’s valuation from $10 million to $24 million, cementing its position as a leader in the esports industry,” Belyanin said.

As the company expands, it is focused on ensuring that both its centers and franchisees consistently achieve growth and progress.

True Gamers is dedicated to supporting offline and online franchisees. The company facilitates a smooth onboarding process through in-person meetings with representatives.  

Additionally, online educational resources provide franchisees with all the essentials, including comprehensive commercial and technical documentation, necessary equipment, training materials, marketing tools, and a detailed brand book.

“Our primary objectives are to foster a thriving gamer community, empower gamers through education, and inspire gamers to pursue professional esports aspirations,” Belyanin said.

The company has not only diversified its offerings but also its business model to secure various sustainable revenue streams.

True Gamers generates consistent income from royalties and direct sales to clients, including ticket sales and memberships. A significant part of its revenue also comes from franchise sales in the MENA and Eastern Europe regions.

Additionally, Belyanin mentioned that the company earns from additional services like marketing, equipment supply, white-label solutions, and sponsorship contracts

Currently, True Gamers is focused on securing strategic investments to support its core operations and is also exploring opportunities for funding its various projects, which encompass new technologies, innovative ideas, and potential partnerships with industry leaders.

A True Gamers emergence  

Belyanin recounted his lifelong passion for video games and esports, starting from his youth spent in internet cafes mastering games like Battlefield Hardline and Counterstrike.  

His entrepreneurial journey began with organizing entertainment events and marketing for parties, where he met his future business partner, Anton Vasilenko, the CEO of True Gamers.  

They recognized a market demand for esports lounges and embarked on the journey in 2019, starting with an $80,000 investment in their first lounge.

The success of their franchise model, especially in smaller cities, contributed significantly to their growth and social mission of providing access to professional gaming facilities for young people from diverse backgrounds.  

True Gamers is now focused on innovation, including the introduction of robotic dog waiters in their Dubai clubs, developed in collaboration with engineers and specialists from the UAE and Central and Eastern Europe region, with an investment of over $100,000.  

These robots offer accessibility and opportunities for employees with disabilities, aligning with their commitment to corporate social responsibility.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

SAMA to host 43rd IFSB council meeting in Jeddah  

RIYADH: The role of Shariah-compliant funding in fostering sustainable economic growth will…

MAGRABi restructures board for global governance standards

RIYADH: Eyewear retailer MAGRABi is reworking its board structure by introducing industry…

Saudi Arabia is a regional powerhouse and global policy shaper: World Bank official 

RIYADH: Mobility firm Dubai Taxi Co. has commenced its subscription period for its upcoming…

Federation of Saudi Chambers hosts Irish trade envoy

RIYADH: Irish Minister Neale Richmond TD spearheaded a trade mission in Riyadh…