For the gaming industry of the Middle East to grow, developers need to expand to other markets. Equally, the region needs to present a fertile ground for outsiders to join a grow, but a lack of data about the industry is presenting a problem.
Daniel Inn, the cofounder of 24platform, an Amsterdam-based company that creates mobile marketing strategies for game developers. During a panel at MEGA, the region’s first gaming focused conference, Inn cited the statistic that revenues from the gaming market in western Europe were about $15.4 billion in 2014. He felt however, that the only comparable figure he could find for the MENA region, $1.4 billion, was one that could not be representative of the actual revenues.
For someone like Inn, the lack of data from those in the gaming industry in the Middle East is a real problem if he is to help clients grow beyond Europe or Asia.
Wamda caught up with him post-panel to discuss some of the issues he raised.
“You have to consider what applies to European developers going to MENA, you can’t just send a game and expect it to be taken by the users,” said Inn. Unsurprisingly, localization of a game is key to its being able to take off in a market foreign to its founding; a game that is heavy on Arabic history, for instance, isn’t likely going to be an instant hit in Europe.
Inn, who was visiting the Middle East for the first time, said that the market has huge potential but cited issues impeding the market's development, including the tendency of companies to work alone and keep their dealings private. “Even though they’re competitors they can learn a lot from one another,” he said.
Inn also sees the region's dearth of marketing agencies focusing on the games sector as something working against the industry's growth: “everyone has their own strategy, everyone is looking for themselves,” he lamented. With no particular guidelines on what to do best, or which channels to use, Inn said that one guy will be using Facebook only while another will use normal CPM (corporate performance management) models from advertisers, rather than using proven industry best practices.
And that missing data? Inn found that there was a big black hole when it came to his research. Asked what companies in MENA could be doing to remedy this he said first of all developers should be tracking user behavior. How long does each user play? Which buttons were they pressing? The way users spend money on the games could also provide useful data. “Here in MENA they need to gather, anonymously, and share,” he said. “I don’t want to know how much revenue you make but I want to know how much revenue is made in the region as a whole. It’s just the gathering of information in order to learn, and do better.”
Check out the video for more insights from Inn.