The Saudi Esports Federation, organizers of the Riyadh, Saudi Arabia-based esports and gaming festival Gamers8, announced that the 2023 event will return this summer with a total prize pool of more than $30M USD. This year’s event, “The Land of Heroes,” will run for eight weeks beginning July 6, and will feature esports competitions, live music, gaming festivals, community gaming events, and more.
The 2022 Gamers8 event featured a prize pool of $15M and multiple esports competitions in Rocket League, Dota 2 Riyadh Masters, Fortnite, Rainbow Six Siege, and PUBG Mobile. Details on which games will be the subject of this year’s competitions will be announced at a later date.
Like last year, Gamers8 will conclude with the Next World Forum, an esports and gaming conference featuring esports and gaming industry professionals.
Gamers8 is funded by the Saudi Esports Federation, which is led by Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud, who serves as its president. The event falls under the umbrella of the Saudi Arabian government’s “National Gaming and Esports Strategy,” which was announced by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (MBS) in September of 2022. The initiative aims to make Saudi Arabia a “global hub” for esports and gaming by 2030 and is also part of “Vision 2030,” an overall initiative to open up the country to global commerce, create jobs, and provide different types of entertainment for citizens and international visitors.
While some have expressed strong concerns over Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment fund-backed investments (for example ESL FACEIT and Savvy Games Group, which owns stakes in a number of game developers around the world) due to geopolitical issues, military operations, and human rights issues, it should be noted that the most popular esports in the world have ties to Chinese conglomerate Tencent Holdings, which owns 100% of League of Legends and Valorant maker Riot Games, and has minority investments in Fortnite and Rocket League maker Epic Games, Rainbow Six: Siege developer Ubisoft, and Call of Duty, Hearthstone, and Overwatch owner Activision Blizzard, among many other major esports-related IPs around the world.