After announcing a pivot into mobile gaming and a deal with leading international publisher 6waves, Wizards Productions is continuing to build a global brand, announcing a partnership with mobile advertising platform Tapjoy and acceptance into YetiZen, a San Francisco-based accelerator that is focusing on gaming startups.
Wizards' partnership with Tapjoy will allow the Jordanian game publishing company to monetize its lineup of upcoming mobile games, which include Experiment Zero, a strategic isometric shooter game in which the main player tracks and shoots zombies.
Wizards, will release the game in November, leveraging Tapjoy's global network of over 800 million mobile users to increase its visibility, and also reach out to targeted users through Tapjoy's Mobile value exchange marketplace, where users can gain virtual currency in their favorite apps by watching videos, subscribing to services, installing applications and participating in other types of advertisements.
"We're very excited about this partnership," said Wizards Productions CEO Sohaib Thiab. "Tapjoy hasn't seen any major games coming out of this region."
The game will be free to play, which some analysts argue is without a doubt the way to go lately (see Trey Smith's analysis on The Fall of Angry Birds and how premium $0.99 games are being quickly overtaken in popularity by free-to-play games). Experiment Zero will offer different upgrades, weapons, and characters.
Their other game, Aqua Jam, is also doing very well; since its launch on August 20th, just two weeks ago, the game has reached 83rd in the U.S. app store's overall ranking and has broken the Top 100 in the games category in 40 country app stores including both the U.S. and UK.
Aqua Jam, which is more of a casual game, focuses on a rescue mission: the player must rescue three children from pirates who have kidnapped them. "It's similar in play to Angry Birds," says Thiab, explaining that the user shoots at pirates who are shooting back. The game, also free to play, offers upgrades for weapons and armor within the game that Thiab says are already gaining a good amount of traction and generating revenue.
Either way, Thiab and CPO Hussam Hammo, who are also Endeavor Jordan entrepreneurs, aren't resting on their fledgling success; they've joined gaming-focused accelerator YetiZen with the hope of accelerating on their momentum. "It's an effort to re-energize Wizards and give us the push we need because we're switching gears. We need all the help that we can get to grow quickly in this market," says Thiab.
Each round at YetiZen is limited to 10 candidates and offers access to 150 mentors, 50 angel investors, and 10 game venture capitalists, as well as virtually every major game publisher. Wizards will undergo its three month acceleration remotely from Jordan, and then will journey to San Francisco to undergo the final phases.
After a lull and recalibration, Wizards is clearly now taking advantages of all available opportunities to succeed on the global stage. While Thiab says that the company will continue to focus on building games for the region in the long term, its first foray into the mobile gaming space reveals a distinct shift; their previous games, Arabian Hitman and Operation Arabia, both in Arabic, saw over 95% of users coming from the Arab World. Yet Aqua Jam and Experiment Zero both see about 10-15% of the users. Reaching the top 10 list in games in the Arab World was only an indirect effective of the marketing, says Thiab.
"2012 will be a split between addressing both markets," he says. Will the region finally see a breakthrough game put the Middle East on the mobile gaming map? Stay tuned for more on AquaJam's gameplay.