The article was published on AdColony’s blog on January 13, 2017 as part of their Publisher Spotlight.
Captivating users at a global scale is the aspiration of many mobile publishers, but there’s one that’s reaching the Arabic market better than most: Tamatem. Founded in 2008, Tamatem is a mobile games publisher focused on the MENA market. Specifically, they partner with game developers around the globe to produce localized versions of popular IPs for the Arab market.
“In 2008, we saw a great opportunity with a hugely successful German browser-based game called Traivian that been localized into 50 languages, but Arabic wasn’t one of them. So we found that creating and publishing games in Arabic is was what the market was waiting for.”
Indeed, with only 1% of the apps available on the App Store being localized for the region, the need was clear. Fortunately for Tamatem, the demand followed. Their localized titles have already driven over 31 million installs, and the company has grown 155% year over year. Sawalha noted a few particularly successful titles:
“Our most successful game to date is Shake the Metal that has unlocked more than 5 million downloads and topped charts across the region. The sequel, Shake the Metal Rush, was also a huge success and has achieved more than 3.5 million downloads so far.”
What made these particular apps successful? They weren’t simply language translations of another IP. In-app content was truly customized for the local market, with everything from cars, environments, and music customized to appeal to local tastes.
The Tamatem team is a close-knit crew of nearly 30. The majority of the team is located in their Jordan office, though a few call Egypt home. Here’s a video that offers a glimpse of the team and their typical day:
Style and Inspiration
While each artist at Tamatem has a unique personal style and area of focus, they focus on maintaining a realism that is true to the IP while relevant to the local market. As Sawalha notes,
“We listen to what our users love and what they are excited to see next in a game, we believe that customizing games to the wants and needs of our users is key and they are our inspiration for making and publishing games.”
Growth & Engagement
As a publisher of numerous titles, Tamatem has found considerable success in leveraging cross promotion to entice current users to check out their new apps. To grow this base, Tamatem uses regionally targeted social campaigns.
But how do they engage their users to drive better retention rates? Tamatem understands that users need fresh content to stay hooked, so they are “always creating new content through updates” that change with the season or holiday. For instance, to celebrate Ramadan, Tamatem games featured giveaways, custom environments, and seasonal music.
Beyond seasonal promotions, Tamatem also leverages the desire for competition to keep users hooked. In particular, they leverage leaderboards, friend challenges, and more to drive the socially competitive spirit.
To ensure every user is able to access their content, Tamatem is quite flexible with its monetization methods. Users can either pay to access premium content immediately, or they can wait, unlocking the content slowly. This encourages repeat sessions that can be monetized through advertising without mandating an immediate purchases, which creates an enjoyable user experience.
So what’s the biggest lesson the Tamatem team has learned thus far in their journey, and how will it affect their subsequent projects? In short: the game comes first, but you need strong marketing. As Sawalha advises:
“If you have great marketing and an okay game, it won’t make the game successful. Even if you have a great game and zero marketing, it won’t work. They come hand in hand, and one cannot work without the other.”
Clearly, it’s working. Beyond enjoying strong install numbers for each of their titles, 22 of their titles have reached the top 10 of their respective app charts, and 25 of their games have been featured in the app stores.
Advice to New Studios
If Tamatem could give one piece of advice to a new studio, it would be to think about how games are tailored for each market. Beyond simple language translation, Tamatem even advises customizing monetization methods for each region to appeal to regional preferences and trends.