Qiddiya City Esports Arena Creates Immersive Gaming And Esports Experience
December 15, 2023
With a design portfolio that includes some of the most advanced esports facilities in the world, including Esports Stadium Arlington, Fortress Melbourne and the NBA 2K League Broadcast Arena, Populous is at the forefront of cutting-edge venue design for the ever-expanding live gaming experience.
Saudi Arabia is at the forefront of esports participation and interest. The National Gaming and Esports Strategy and Saudi Vision 2030 aims to make Saudi Arabia a global hub for gaming and esports and attract up to 10 million visitors by 2030. Meanwhile, research conducted by Populous and YouGov in 2022 revealed that as much as 29% of the Saudi Arabia national population is interested in esports, demonstrating the substantial appetite for live venues.
A key focus for the National Gaming and Esports Strategy is the Qiddiya Gaming and Esports District, the world’s first mixed-use gaming and esports district, set to attract gamers from across the globe and cement Saudi Arabia as the global epicentre of gaming and esports.
One of Saudi Arabia’s new giga-projects, Qiddiya, promises a city wholly dedicated to play, an epicentre of entertainment, sports and culture that will welcome Saudi nationals, residents and tourists alike, exemplified by its promise of “Play Life”.
Within the Qiddiya Gaming and Esports District, the Populous-designed Qiddiya City Esports Arena stands out. Combining the largest combined total video screen area of any esports arena in the world, as well as 4D haptic seats where visitors can sense, feel and even smell the action taking place in front of them, the striking design creates an iconic venue, capable of adapting to multiple experiences and events. Featuring a distinctive architectural identity, the 5,300-seat multifunctional venue will provide a best-in-class experience for players and spectators alike. Extensive sightline studies have been carried out to optimise seating in the main auditorium for the best views, and parametric design tools have been utilised to refine screen locations, resulting in an innovative “digital chandelier” placed centrally within the seating bowl for enhanced gameplay content delivery.
The combination of screen size and 4D haptic seats, together with specifications for the most advanced AV systems available, ensures visitors will enjoy a fully immersive and ever-changing experience.
Rhys Courtney, a Senior Principal at Populous EMEA, says:
“We are proud to have been able to combine our extensive knowledge of esports facilities and technology with Qiddiya’s vision to create a world-leading arena for competitors and fans alike. This arena will be unique in esports in both scale and user experience.”
The design philosophy for the arena is centred on creating a fantasy world for fans. The general admission experience is carefully crafted, with two concourses wrapping around the seating bowl, offering unique designs and functions. These include a centralised arcade with breakout zones for gaming, a food ‘souk’, retail and an immersive entertainment zone. This design ambition extends to the food and beverage offering, providing variety and choice through diverse typologies such as self-checkout markets and gaming bars. Many of these spaces can be operated prior to an event or fully on non-event days, with access from the podium, which increases the operation of the venue and its integration into the community.
Premium hospitality, constituting 20% of the arena, introduces six unique concepts, declining standard hospitality conventions in favour of themes aligned with gaming culture. Meticulous attention is also given to the design of the back-of-house and event production spaces, positioning the venue as the preferred choice for fans, brands, athletes and promoters.
The final word goes to Shireen Hamdan, Senior Principal and General Manager of Populous KSA:
“The Qiddiya City Esport Arena is a state-of-the-art esports venue that will serve as a centrepiece for this incredible global gaming hub and will be a complete representation of Qiddiya’s ‘Play Life’ ethos.”