The Turkish gaming market – so hot right now, especially in mobile. Just consider the latest headline-grabbing deals in the mobile game industry over the past few years:
So all this begs the questions: Why is mobile gaming in Turkey so big right now? Why were 20% of the top 100 mobile games in the U.S. in May 2021 from Turkey? What are these mobile game developers doing that’s allowing them to dominate the mobile game market worldwide?
In markets like Japan that have long been dominated by console-centric video games, many digital gaming companies are still putting in a lot of resources into major console releases, even if they have begun launching mobile-first properties in recent years.
In contrast, the majority of gaming companies in Turkey are mostly or solely focused on hypercasual titles. This means that their sole focus is on producing many different titles quickly, with the hopes that one or a few will become a major success. This comparative nimbleness has paid off, with many titles made by Turkish gaming studios routinely cracking the top games in the App Store and Google Play.
"A [Turkish] studio can come up with 10 to 15 hyper-casual games in a year and if it's not popular it is easy to scrap the project," said Ozgur Karayalcin, deputy chairman of the Game Developers Association of Turkey. "They are succeeding in creating good hyper-casual games in a short time that become commercially successful."
It also helps that there is a sizable, mobile-first audience within Turkey itself. For one thing, there are more than 30 million mobile gamers in the country. Overall, around 79% of all adults in Turkey play mobile games.
And the number of players continues to grow. During 2020, gameplay increased by 30%, with 65% of people in Turkey saying they play mobile games at least once daily.
Part of this domestic growth is because of the fact that Turkey is truly a mobile-first market. There will likely be close to 53 million mobile phone users in the country by the end of the year, meaning that around seven in 10 people in the country will have a smartphone.
It’s also important to see how economic forces have combined to make Turkey a hub in the mobile gaming industry. For one thing, Turkey’s currency the lira has been declining in value of late. This thus makes it more affordable for global gaming companies to acquire Turkish studios.
In addition, with slowdowns in the Turkish economy, it often makes fiscal sense to expand internationally to grab ad dollars from mobile gamers in more lucrative markets like the U.S. and Japan. Of course, this path to worldwide growth is taken by studios and developers regardless of where they are located or local economic conditions, but regional economies can make global expansion more of a necessity.
But it is interesting to see just how dependent Turkish gaming studios are on international demand. According to data from the Game Developers Association of Turkey, around 95% of all gaming revenue is coming from abroad. Overall, gaming studios in Turkey made around $880 million in revenue in 2020, with around 50% of that coming from mobile games.
Another reason why the industry is so hot right now is because of investment in and support from both on the part of government agencies and various universities, such as the ATOM acceleration program within the Middle East Technical University (METU) Teknokent in Ankara.
In addition, the Turkish government compensates local app developers for the costs they incur by listing apps on the App Store and/or Google Play. Even with KVKK, or Turkey’s law on the protection of personal data, on the books, Turkey’s government is materially supporting gaming app developers, even those that monetize through in-app advertising.
On top of all that, there are now dedicated sources of funds for mobile gaming companies, including WePlay Ventures, Actera and startup.watch, among others, alongside a robust crowdfunding scene. This helps to explain why the number of acquisition and funding deals and deal sizes have increased exponentially since 2018.
And of course, success breeds more success. As soon as one mobile gaming studio in Turkey sees success, others want to get in on the action.
How will the mobile gaming industry in Turkey evolve? What will be the next mobile gaming unicorn in the country? Let us know your thoughts on social media! You can reach out to us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
Interested in learning more about InMobi and how we work with gaming publishers in Turkey and across the globe? Head to https://go.inmobi.com/gaming/ or https://go.inmobi.com/gaming-turkey/ for more information.
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