Fact vs. Fiction: The Mobile Gaming Industry in the Arab Region

Fact vs. Fiction: The Mobile Gaming Industry in the Arab Region
June 8, 2017 David Mel
This post appeared on Chartboost‘s Medium page & was part of a collaboration between Tamatem and Chartboost. 

The gaming industry across the Arab region is often overlooked from both a development and marketing perspective. Though the past 10 years saw many changes that set the stage to drive this region toward significant mobile industry growth. With more than 400 million population and 28% between ages 15 and 29, mobile phone penetration is rising quickly as is mobile game popularity. According to Newzoo, in 2015 the mobile games market in the MENA secured more than USD 2.1 billion in revenues and is expected to triple by 2020.

Being an emerging market for mobile and mobile games, here are a few assumptions about the region to challenge and some key facts that you should know.

Fiction: Arabs don’t play games

The Arab region has one of highest grossing mobile games market in the world, with Saudi Arabia bringing in more than $ 314.4 million in revenue. The video gaming industry is currently worth more than $ 1 billion and is expected to quadruple by 2022, according to Strategy&.

Keep in mind the mobile gaming industry has been stealing the spotlight from console games over the past few years due to the rapid increase in overall mobile growth. Arabs love playing games, especially games tailored to their language and culture. Mobile gaming companies like Super Cell and King have recently started to support the Arabic language in their games.

Fact: Localization is key

With more than 400 million Arabic speakers worldwide, localizing games is a major factor when marketing for the Arab region. Especially for countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other GCC countries, those are incredibly attached to their language, culture and religion. Customizing games and making them culturally relevant is the key for a successful game in the Arabic market.

Localizing is more than just the language. It should include customized characters, environments, and music. Everything in the game needs to be transformed to attract the Arab user.

Fiction: Monetization is tough

Research has show that the average Saudi mobile gamer pays an average of $ 10 — $50 on games and IAP. A man from Saudi was rumored to have paid $ 1 million just to find a way inside the Legend League, in Super Cell’s games Clash of Clans.

Whether this is true or not, there is proof that Arab players are dominating the uppermost league of Clash of Clans and some are spending more than $16,000. Which has proven that the Arab region has one of the highest average revenue per paying user in the world.

Fact: Trends are very important

Keeping up with trends in the Arab region is a major key when developing for the Arabic user. Looking at the charts on the Saudi Arabian for this year the emerging trends in popular games include strategy games like Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, and drifting and card games. Following whatever trend users are following will help Western devs understand the needs of the market.

Fiction: It’s hard for western developers to enter the market

Expanding your mobile game growth into emerging markets can be challenging, but it’s not impossible! Taking note of key tactics to success like full localization can help mobile developers expand faster. It’s also beneficial to find a local partner to help enter the market. Finding the right publisher to help you in tailoring, marketing and distributing your game will make it successful.