The mobile gaming market in the MENA region is proving to be a sleeper hit with consumers – and a prime area for investment by advertisers.
Leading mobile advertising platform AdColony EMEA partnered with OnDevice to conduct a survey of mobile gamers and mobile gaming habits, and the results reaffirm global trends where mobile gaming is a demographically diverse audience that continues to expand and grow in the region.
The global gaming market is estimated to reach over $115 billion in 2018, according to the survey.
At over $50 billion, the mobile gaming industry accounts for nearly half of all the global gaming revenue. In 2017, 42% of all gaming revenue went towards mobile games with a predicted growth to 52% in 2022.
Don’t worry, we got you covered for the ME region.
The Middle East gaming business
Statista revealed that the Africa & Middle East region generated revenue in the “Mobile Games” segment amounting to $320 million in 2018.
“Revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate between 2018-2022 of 7.3% resulting in a market volume of $424 million in 2022,” said the site.
“User penetration is at 17.3% in 2018 and is expected to hit 21.1% in 2022,” it added.
Statista calculates the average revenue per user (ARPU) as currently being around $10.2.
Is there money to be made with Arab gamers?
Following AdColony’s research, UAE, KSA, and other countries from the MENA region seem to mirror this international growth in their own local markets. Mobile gaming is proving itself time and time again as a rising behemoth that will soon establish itself as a mainstay among the vast array of platforms available to advertisers, developers and publishers.
Samantha Billingham, Regional Sales Director at AdColony EMEA shares this belief, saying that “almost 90% of the smartphone owners in United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are playing mobile games. You might not consider yourself a mobile gamer but this doesn’t change the fact that you are playing games on your mobile phone.”
In the UAE, 87% of men and 84% of women are playing games on their phone, with approximately 80-85% of people aged 16-64 attesting to be gamers. This proves that the mobile gamer demographic is in fact quite diverse and pretty generic, something for brands and advertisers to keep in mind.
Iftar, family time, and a helping of Candy Crush
Last year, ad spend on mobile surged a staggering 44.5% to $112 billion, making it the second-largest ad channel after TV, according to WARC, a marketing intelligence service.
The current survey reveals that with the advent of Ramadan, working hours become significantly reduced, meaning that employees have more free time on their hands. While mobile gaming might seem like a natural fit for quick, bite-sized entertainment for a bus or car ride, 77% of Arab gamers are in fact playing from home. This supports the fact that Ramadan is indeed a boon for advertisers looking to reach a wider, more diverse array customer base.
In fact, 85% of the UAE mobile gamers prefer watching video ads for extra lives and/or in-game content in general, as this method proves to be the least intrusive for the player. It is during those periods of intermission and high excitement that audience engagement is at its highest, therefore an ideal spot for ads, both for the business and the consumer. These “rewarded ads” have become so integral to the mobile gaming experience, that fans of the Angry Birds Transformers app were quite vocal and upset when developer Rovio removed these rewarded ads from their game.
But why stop here?
Advertisers abroad have dabbled with brand-centric gaming experiences – sponsoring a developer to design new levels themed after the brand in question, branded game menus, and even branded virtual items and character costumes. This hits on an important note that all advertisers strive to meet – business-customer engagement, in a way like no other. These interactive experiences are mostly simple and not too costly, yet very effective.
A prime advertiser opportunity, but the clock is ticking
The gaming industry in the MENA region is still in its early stages, and this applies doubly so to the mobile gaming market. Now is the perfect time for advertisers seeking to branch out to this platform, before it becomes flooded with advertiser money. Establishing a relationship early on with the local, up and coming game developers will pay dividends in the upcoming years, as our local games begin to flourish and take center stage.
As the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm.