But in any industry, there’s always going to be variance in the rate of growth across different geographical markets. This rate of growth, particularly in online industries, is dependent on technology and as other countries continue to catch up, there may be some surprises when it comes to lucrative markets.
A Newzoo trend report published in February 2012 that investigated casual social games certainly threw up some interesting results. Of the most significant figures to those trying to turn a profit through social games was the percentage of casual game players that were payers – in other words, users who were prepared to part with their hard-earned cash.
In the US 22% of 126 million players had paid for their casual/social gaming experience while just 18% had done the same in Europe. Compare that to the 29% of payers in Brazil, Mexico and Russia as well as the 46% that paid in China and Korea and you begin to get an idea of just how important these markets are.
Of course, the size of the markets remains significant as the 22% of paying US players equated to 28 million while the 29% in Brazil, Mexico and Russia totalled 23 million. But given the potential size of the market and the growth which, given the greater reach of increased technology, is showing no signs of stopping, then social game makers would be well advised to begin directing their attentions toward these countries.
Turkey, Middle East and North Africa
One developer that has already begun to travel down this route is Peak Games who are already reaping their rewards. Since the beginning of the year, Peak has increased its revenue by 600% while they now achieve 9.7million daily active users across their various titles. This has led to them becoming the third largest social gaming developer behind Zynga and King.com.
All of this has been possible thanks to a focus on Turkish and Arabic markets with games designed and created in order to attract a particular geographical market. Games such as Okey, Okey Plus and 101 Okey Plus serve as examples of this as they represent variations of Turkey’s most popular game.
But Peak Games haven’t just had success by taking local games and putting them online, they’ve adapted other games to their markets as well. Baloot is a popular French card game and has been a big hit in Peak Games’ home markets while Backgammon Plus has modernised the board game that we all know and love – or at least know!
With offices in Istanbul, Ankara, Spain, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, Peak Games are based well within their target market meaning that there are few issues with learning the culture of their targeted region. The amount of recruitment that has, and continues to, take place is a sign of the clear success that the company is having.
This success has not gone unnoticed in one of the areas where money for investment is no shortage when compared to other regions. It’s reported that there is already $100 million in revenue from online gaming in the Middle East and this figure is likely to only go one way.
The Middle East online gaming community is now considered to be the fastest growing and with the number of internet users set to hit 150 million in 2015 compared to the current 70 million, we can expect something of a boom in this area. With particular regard to social games, 2.89 million Arabic gamers are currently playing on Facebook and Peak Games estimate the market to currently be worth $100 million.
Even now, many consider South America to be relatively untapped – especially when compared to the saturated markets of the UK and most of Europe. But where the real money gambling market may have been made to wait to prosper in Latin America, social gaming companies have more or less been able to wade straight in.
When speaking about South American gaming markets there is one major player that is always at the forefront of discussions – Brazil. The country is expected to account for 52.3 million of the 95.1 million social gamers in Latin America and given the size of the country’s population and its developing nature, Brazil is soon to dwarf its neighbours where social gaming is concerned.
Already with their fingers firmly in the Brazilian pie is Mentez – a start-up with offices in Miami, Sao Paulo, Bogota and Mexico – who are dominating the Lat Am market. But rather than focusing on Facebook as so many social gaming companies have been doing, Mentez’ primary social network to contend with is Google’s Orkut. The company has more than 20 games on Brazil’s most popular social network and could even be considered the Zynga of Brazil.
One definite similarity between Mentez and Pincus’ behemoth is that they have both developed wildly popular social poker games – a fact which is bound to excite iGaming investors looking toward the social arena. Sociedade Poquer is the work of Mentez and as was the case with Zynga Poker, the translated title of Social Poker keeps things simple.
Also worth mentioning in this market is Vostu who have grown up in the Latin American market while BigPoint has made a concerted effort to enter the area with their move to a Brazilian office.
They will all be hoping to gain their fair share of the $432 million that the social gaming industry in this region is expected to be worth in 2014. An increase of more than 110% in Brazilian social network users in the past year suggests that this figure will continue to increase past this point.
Reflecting Real Money Gaming
Asia has been referred to as the biggest emerging market for some time now, for so long in-fact that it’s hard to still label it as one. Operators are now established in the area and while the legal situation means that it isn’t exploited perhaps as much as it could be, many companies continue to reap Asian rewards.
But when it comes to social gaming, it would appear that we haven’t quite reached that stage yet. AJ Glasser, managing editor of the Inside Network, explains that in some ways social gaming will be following a similar pattern to that of iGaming.
She says: “We see the Asian market becoming more tempting to developers a year from now as the games networks there continue to reach out to Western developers lured by the promise of higher ARPDAU and an entirely new audience not already on Facebook.”