Peak Games: Conquering The Middle East
Peak Games sees the Middle East, North Africa, and other emerging areas as strong markets. Getting to the #5 position in the AppData leaderboards for social games is an impressive achievement, especially when you’ve done it without the USA, Europe, or Asia as part of your target markets. Peak Games has done just that. The Istanbul-based developer/publisher currently has over 4 million DAU (daily active users) right now, and has hit 7 million recently. How have they done it, and where are they headed? GamesIndustry International spoke with Peak Games’ marketing consultant Nicole DeMeo to get some answers.
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Peak Games raised $11.5 million in an investment round last year, fueling its expansion in the Middle East. The company has acquired studios in several countries, as well as publishing games from other places. “It’s both a development and a publishing model,” said DeMeo. “A number of the games have been developed in-house.” One of the keys to their success is proper localization, or what DeMeo called “hyperlocalization.” Games need to be culturally competent, which means being properly localized for the culture.
The top game for Peak is Okey on Facebook. This is a tabletop game that people have played in Turkey for years and years, brought to the Facebook platform. “What we’ve found is that users engage with the game in slightly different ways than are typical of other social games,” DeMeo explianed. “It’s very cultural. What happens within Okey is people are communicating quite a lot. It becomes a social form of communication. Being in parts of the world where it may not be as prevalent to go out to a cafe and socialize that way, this becomes a great way to connect.”
Peak’s game portfolio includes a wide range of games. Umaykut is a strategy game based on Turkish history; Erlikhan is a strategy game with a fantasy theme on Facebook. “In the MENA (Middle East, North Africa) region we have Happy Farm, which is the second largest farming game in the world; it’s Arabic only,” noted DeMeo. “Saudi Arabia is a very exciting market, with a very high number of ‘whales’.”
More than two-thirds of Internet users in Saudi Arabia play games online, and the country has one of the highest average revenue per user (ARPU) rates in social gaming. There are a number of high-paying customers in the Gulf region, where wealthy families make up a good percentage of those who have easy access to computers and smartphones.
Sidar Sahin, chief executive officer and founder of Peak Games, has had many game startups in his past, and he and his crew have extensive experience in the area. “He’s worked with many of the team members for ten years or more,” noted DeMeo. “I think there are a lot of important lessons here, such as hyperlocalization. If you are completely immersed in a culture, you get it, you can make that connection. I think some companies have come into these countries and some of these translations are so bad they’re offensive.”
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