The Growth of the MENA’s Mobile Gaming Market
Written by: Simon Batt
When you think of publishing a game in a foreign market, the MENA region may not be one of the more obvious options available to you. However, the Arab region is quickly becoming a big mover in the global market for mobile game developers. In recent years, the market has seen a huge amount of growth, development, and smartphone penetration, yet still remains somewhat untapped by developers and publishers. This makes it a choice pick for those who want to be a part of an exciting, rapidly-developing world of mobile gaming. So, just how big is the MENA market?
First, let’s look at how well the market is doing. In 2016 alone, the users within the MENA market spent $3.2 billion on games, with more than $502 million of that coming from Saudi Arabia. It’s easy to assume that people within the MENA region aren’t big gamers, but the statistics don’t lie; the audience for games is definitely there!
However, this statistic only states how much was spent on video games as a whole. So, how many people are ready to spend on mobile games? You may find it surprising that 42% of all gaming revenue in 2017 went toward mobile games, with a predicted growth to 52% in 2022. This means the market is rapidly growing that will only get larger as time goes on.
So what’s causing this growth in games? Simple; the MENA market is full of people who love mobile games. More importantly, they’re willing to financially support the developers of the games they enjoy. The MENA market has what’s called the highest ARPPU in the world. This stands for ‘average revenue per paying user’ – basically, how much you can expect a user to spend on games. The MENA market’s ARPPU is $270, which is a great deal more than countries such as China, which has an ARPPU of $30.
In fact, the MENA region has become more connected to the internet and smartphones than most people would initially think. The United Arab Emirates was crowned the top region for smartphone penetration in 2017, with an amazing 80.6% penetration rate and a grand total of 7.5 million people with smartphones. In the third quarter of 2017, 75% of the population of Saudi Arabia were using social media, with their Twitter penetration rates being the highest in the world. It’s predicted these numbers will only climb in a short amount of time.
The MENA market also has its own predictable periods of increased sales. For instance, Ramadan is a big income maker for mobile game developers. During a period where work hours are cut in half, schools are closed, and the internet is the only main source of entertainment, people naturally turn to games to pass the time. Developers have a lot of fun adding Ramadan-themed items, events, and marketing to their games for an extra boost during this season.
As you can see, the MENA market is an exciting place to be in right now. However, it may seem daunting (if not impossible!) for people outside the region to publish their game in it. A lot of localization care has to be done introducing a foreign game into this market, such as translation and checking for anything that could be deemed offensive. This is why publishers can be such a huge help; with a large amount of experience under their belt, they know what needs to be done when localizing and marketing a game in a foreign market.
At Tamatem, we live and breathe this exciting market every day we’re at work. We love introducing games from all over the world into this rapidly developing world, allowing the world to experience this unique market for themselves. If you’d like all the excitement of this new frontier without any of the headaches of localization, submit your game to Tamatem and let us do all the hard work!