Arzan VC, the venture capital arm of Arzan Financial Group, just invested an undisclosed amount in Jordan’s Tamatem Games. With 11 million downloads to date and 1.4 million monthly active users, the game development and publishing company is on a mission to dominate Arabic game stores.
This recent investment follows a first round of $450,000 in September 2013 from Mena Venture Investments and 500 Startups.
Tamatem Games CEO Hussam Hammo said they are out to develop and promote “culturally relevant high-quality games that will make all Arabs proud.”
A Good Candidate for Scaling and Growth
Arzan VC seeks to invest in growth-stage MENA startups, but these are relatively few. The Kuwait-based VC fund was drawn by the motivated and detail-oriented team behind Tamatem Games. “It is worth noting that the team is continuously achieving milestones with limited resources and capital. Hence, if we would like to bet on the region’s gaming industry, Tamatem would be by far our best and most suitable bet,” said a source at Arzan VC.
There are two parts in the gaming industry: Game development, and game publishing. The former usually involves more risk, which is why Tamatem Games opted for balanced model: The team divided their efforts in developing in-house games and pioneered in publishing Arabized third party games. This has therefore made it easier for the company to scale.
How to Succeed in the Gaming Industry
“We have been focusing on building experience and capacity. We have learned a lot since 2013 and managed to face challenges and obstacles successfully,” said Hammo. “Mobile is the platform to be in right now and for the next few years at least,” he explained.
To take advantage of its high number of users, the company relies heavily on cross promotion between its different game titles to increase traffic.
For now, income is generated from in-app purchases and advertising. Hammo said they are currently working on a freemium model for new games.
In a region that has little or no statistics about the gaming industry, Tamatem Games had to create its own data. “We understand the opportunity and how underserved the market is,” said Hammo. Game development at Tamatem Games starts with a careful analysis of the market based on the team members’ experience. Saudi Arabia represents 70% of the company’s total downloads.
“Yet even with a long experience in gaming, users will still surprise with what they like and what they don’t. It is still not exactly clear how to manage expectations when it comes to a release. My advice is not to spend a very long time preparing a product for launch without having focus groups and allowing users to test the product at an early stage,” he said.
Among Tamatem Games’ most popular titles is Malik Al Tawsil (Delivery King), a pizza delivery game that is especially popular during Ramadan, which reached close to a million downloads. The drifting gameShare3 El Mawt (street of death) and the quiz game Alsou2al Al Qawi (the hardest question) also totaled over one million downloads each.
Does the MENA Region Have What It Takes?
Hammo said the Arab world is getting more and more mobile gamers every day. “More and more users are coming every day. The adoption rate is crazy high and the purchasing power is increasing.”
“We are noticing attention from international brands and studios to our region, which means more spending on ads. I also believe that with the opening of Apple stores in the region, we will see a great jump by the end of the year.”
According to Arzan VC, there is enough room for several players in the gaming industry to co-exist in the MENA. “Moreover, we invested in Tamatem because we like the gaming industry and believe in its potential,” said a source there.
On the downside, the MENA lacks skilled employees adapted to the gaming industry, according to Hammo. “Building games is one of the most complex jobs, but it is not rocket science. We need more engineers and designers. If there are any, I am afraid they are not visible (at least to me).”
Source : Arabnet.net