x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Virtual shisha, flying horses and lions tempt Abu Dhabi's twofour54

The Abu Dhabi media zone twofour54 invests in two online gaming companies, eying growth in sales of virtual goods.

Businesses selling 'virtual' shisha and flying horses do not immediately sound like viable ventures.

But twofour54, the Abu Dhabi media zone, has just invested in two video-game companies that specialise in just this.

The government-owned media hub has taken minority stakes in the Arabic online games companies Tahadi Games and Jawaker.

Both derive the majority of their revenues from the sales of 'virtual goods' in games.

Tahadi Games was established in 2008 by the founders of Maktoob.com, the Arabic web portal that was purchased by Yahoo. Its revenues are derived from the sales of items within games - which include virtual lions and flying horses.

The Jordan-based Jawaker is a multiplayer card game website which launched in April 2009. Most games are free to play, but users can pay to enter tournaments and send each other virtual cups of tea and shisha.

Wayne Borg, deputy chief executive and chief operating officer at twofour54, said that "gaming represents a huge area of growth".

He cited research by Gartner that found that consumer spending on online games is expected to double from $11.8bn this year to some $28bn by 2015.

 

bflanagan@thenational.ae