“Online challenge games are very popular in the region. However, most of them are only available in foreign languages. That is why we decided to build the first social trivia game in Arabic that is based on two-player challenges where you have to answer questions throughout several stages,” says Ayham Gorani, an entrepreneur of Syrian origins who launched the free AlMwajaha app on the App Store in April 2014.
Gorani established his first company, called Widget Lab, back in 2007 with his cousin Saed in Germany where they both were living. Four years later, in 2011, they launched Alpha-Apps in Abu Dhabi which is still operating as a mobile game and apps-on-demand developer for clients.
AlMwajaha is the company’s first signature, self-published product. “The Arab world needs more games developed to fit the culture and language of its people, and when we noticed the huge popularity that trivia games receive around the world, such as the German QuizDuell, we decided to build the first game of this kind for the Arab world,” says Gorani.
QuizDuell, the game Gorani aspires to imitate, has more than 15 million users out of the 80 million German mobile game users, and its team is preparing to launch the game in the form of a TV show.
AlMwajaha contains questions and answers only in Arabic, classified into categories such as general information, history, religion, geography, nature, movies, medicine, TV series, music, and literature, science and technology, and logos and mottos.
The most important element in the game was also the team’s biggest challenge: preparing the questions and answers. “In the West, you can buy trivia questions by category in a quick and practical way whether in English or in other languages. However, there is no similar database available in Arabic,” says Gorani. To tackle this challenge, the team had to recruit editors, researchers, and proofreaders to work together on preparing the questions and ensuring high quality.
In doing this, Al Mwajaha has built one of the first Arabic trivia questions database; there is no doubt that this will contribute significantly to enriching the Arabic digital content.
After downloading the app, users log in with their Facebook account and start sending challenge requests, either to random people or to their friends. As soon as another user accepts the challenge, the two players start answering questions, each in turn. Each challenge is divided into five rounds, each of which comprises three questions. The winner of each round then picks the question category for the next round, which makes the game more challenging, as a player can gain a large experience in a particular category and increase their chance of winning when playing with friends.
The app’s algorithm tries to understand what users like best by culling from their personal information and experiences, then offering them the opportunity to suggest new questions for each of the available questions.
Even though the game is available for free, there are still some paid features, such as obtaining detailed statistics and sharing them, choosing the challenge’s screen background, and getting an ad-free version of the game.
The founder affirms that the game is receiving a decent amount of attention, especially that the team has not as of yet launched any marketing campaigns. “We are focusing for the moment on improving the product as much as possible and making a big effort in terms of collecting players’ feedback and views through the chat rooms that are available in the game,” says Gorani.
Over the last few months, the game has gathered 110,000 play hours and 500,000 challenges, while the first couple of weeks after the launch saw players coming back more than 150 times to play the game. Gorani says that the highest number of players come from Saudi Arabia, followed by Kuwait, the UAE, Egypt, Qatar, and Algeria.
In the global mobile games market there two other games that largely resemble AlMwajaha in terms of design and mode of operation: the German QuizDuell and English Quiz Up. At this point only QuizUp provides the possibility to play opponents in real time. Personally, I prefer to play directly with my opponent as it adds more enthusiasm and motivation to the game, with players interacting with each other and sometimes having little chats after the game.
Despite Gorani’s statement that AlMwajaha is closer to QuizDuell in the way it operates, in that it does not rely on direct playing, there is also a big similarity in the two apps’ logo design. Gorani says that he preferred not to build the game on a simultaneous challenge basis because the chances “that two people will be available at the same time and ready to play is relatively low.”
“We hope to achieve the first success story in the field in the region and to encourage investors and entrepreneurs to create other games and apps in Arabic too to help the industry grow and prosper faster,” says Gorani.
It seems AlMwajaha might indeed be the first in a series of quiz apps focused on the Arab market. Last weekend, entrepreneur and programmer Piotr Yordanov launched another trivia game for the region called SwypeTag, in English for the time being. The principle of the game is a little different as it offers only true-or-false questions, with the player swiping right for ‘true’ and left for ‘false’.
Time will tell how the region prefers to test its trivia knowledge.