Over the last several months, the biggest Western social gaming companies have been making moves, and attracting attention as a result. Japanese gaming giant GREE bought Funzio for $210 million to help it move into Western markets, and Zynga grabbed Draw Something creator OMGPOP for $183 million. Meanwhile, European social gaming companies, like Sweden’s King.com and Germany’s wooga have been steadily moving up the developer leaderboards.
While the bigs all focus on Western markets, Istanbul-headquartered social gaming company Peak Games is busy taking a different tack, producing titles specifically for emerging markets, like the Middle East and North Africa. And it seems to be working. With just under 30 million monthly active users (MAUs) and 9.5 million daily active users (DAUs), Peak Games said today that it has become one of the three largest social gaming platforms in the world.
The company’s chief strategy officer Rina Onur says that the company has been able to do this in just a year-and-a-half based on its laser focus on building social titles based on popular card and board games that are native to the region and are tailored to Turkish and Arabic (local) markets, in their native tongue.
It’s a defensible strategy, Peak Games believes, as this approach to building games based on native, offline games (in the native language) can’t just be whipped up or ported in a few weeks. The startup has been quietly acquiring local development operatios, like hardcore strategy game studios Umaykut and Erlikhan (both of which are Turkish), as well as its recent purchase of Saudi Arabian social games giant Kammelna Games. At the time of its acquisition, Kammelna’s popular Arabic-language title Happy Farm had some 2.2 million daily active users.
Again, these moves were made as part of the company’s effort to expand into markets underserved by gaming companies with localized, culturally-specific titles. Why? Well, for starters Onur says, young people in these regions are coming online en masse and they love games. There’s also the fact that Turkey and MENA have increasingly connected populations, and Turkey, for example, has the seventh largest Facebook markets, with over 30 million+ using the social network.
What’s more, in February, Onur told us that more than two-thirds of Internet users in Saudi Arabia were playing games online and that “the country has one of the highest average revenue per user (ARPU) rates in social gaming.”
Today, Peak Games seems to be benefitting in kind from this active gaming market, as Onur tells us that it’s seeing an average of between seven and eight cents in daily average revenue per user (DARPU) in Gulf countries — a rate which, she says, is noticeably higher compared to what’s seen in the U.S., U.K. and Germany.
Not only that, but of its some 10 million DAU and 30 million MAU, Onur says that an average of 2 percent convert to paying users on Facebook, 5 percent on iOS and 20 percent on the iPad. This led to Peak Games seeing a 10-fold increase in revenues in Q1 2012 over the same quarter in the year prior. And apparently this revenue growth is accelerating, as Peak’s revenue has grown 600 percent since January 1st.
There’s no question that Peak Games is growing fast and that it’s localization strategy is finding validation in a market that’s exploding with new gamers. But, as to its claim that its now the third largest social gaming company? If you look at AppData’s developer leaderboard for DAUs among gaming companies, Zynga is in first, King.com in second, EA in third, wooga in fourth, and Peak Games in fifth.
But, according to Onur, that some 5.7 million DAUs that one sees on Peak Games’ AppData profile page doesn’t include DAUs for their published titles. Adding the 3.7 million from their 11 published titles, one gets the 9.5 million number the company announced today, which sees them leap-frogging over EA (8.8 million DAUs) and wooga (8.2 million DAUs) into third.
These numbers are subject to change, and AppData is not always reliable, so these numbers should be viewed in that context. However, Peak Games certainly has reason to consider itself now part of a handful of the largest social gaming companies on the planet.
On the heels of this growth, the startup is also attempting to build out its leadership team to help it move beyond social into mobile and online platforms in emerging markets. Today, Peak announced that Ali Kutay, an angel investor and former CEO of WebLogic and GoldenGate (both multi-billion-dollar companies acquired by Oracle during his tenure) will be joining the company’s board of advisors.
Robert Unsworth is also joining the startup as director of business development. Unsworth was previously the VP of global sales and business development at Digital Chocolate.
The company is backed by $18 million from Earlybird Venture Capital and Hummingbird Ventures and now has over 170 employees.
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