I am always on the look-out for new markets with good potential and a recent article on AdWeek’s SocialTimes caught my attention about the Arabic-language markets. Most of the buzz in the last year or so has been around sub-Saharan Africa, and while that is an intriguing markets most of their economies still lag significantly, and even more so technologically, behind the Arabic geographies.
The article quotes a study from Northwestern University in Qatar that a disproportionately high number of the top Facebook pages, YouTube channels and Twitter accounts are in Arabic. Saudi Arabia actually leads the world for YouTube viewers on mobile (50 percent of videos consumed) and the United Arab Emirates also posts impressive numbers (40 percent).
Games and entertainment represent a particularly interesting opportunity. When you breakdown the regions traffic, entertainment is first or second in every market (jockeying with interest in brands). The UAE, in particular, is a strong consumer of entertainment content.
I am not saying that you should pivot to focus on the Arabic-speaking market but you should look at it as a serious opportunity. Test user acquisition in the key markets (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait). If you see traction for your app, consider translation into Arabic and potentially further localization of your content. In today’s hyper-competitive world of user acquisition, you cannot neglect potentially lucrative markets.
- The Arabic speaking markets represents an emerging opportunity and should be in the same conversation as sub-Saharan Africa.
- Entertainment content, and thus games, is particularly successful in these markets.
- You should test user acquisition in the key Arabic markets and then consider translation and localization if you generate traction.
Many companies, particularly in the game space, have failed to match their local success in international markets. Ones that believe they are particularly data-driven have often had the worst results. The biggest single contributor is that these companies experience false negatives, negative results that they then extrapolate to the opportunities outside their home market. I refer to this phenomenon as “The Exporter’s Dilemma,” as a homage to Clay Christensen’s seminal work, The Innovator’s Dilemma.
Parallels with The Innovator’s Dilemma
In The Innovator’s Dilemma, Christensen shows that successful companies have trouble innovating because they know their customers too well. Innovating is about creating products that initially appeal to a new customer, which then evolves to penetrate the existing market. Existing customers do not find the new offering compelling, thus the company believes it is not an opportunity.
Successful companies also have trouble innovating because they are successful and they have built a structure that does not support small opportunities. Thus, an innovative opportunity may only contribute one percent or less to the bottom line, and thus the company does not put any resources into growing the disruptive innovation. Instead, a small competitor takes the opportunity and grows it into a business that then undercuts the established companies existing business.
There are parallels to both these issues when building an international social games business. Great games have already optimized for the core market. A top social game team is going to be a top team because they look at the metrics for their existing players and evolve the game to generate the best metrics from those players. That could include features that will perform well or licensing IP that resonates with the players.
When the company expands internationally, features that a Frenchman might like may be unattractive to an Australian. The Frenchman might like a feature where players work together to create beautiful art, while the Australian might prefer that by cooperating you create a race course. With IP (intellectual property), some of the strongest IP in one market may not have value in other markets. While a science fiction game in the US around the Star Trek IP would have a strong fan base, the same IP would not generate any traffic or appeal in Italy. Continue reading “The Exporter’s Dilemma”
With the growing importance of social casino products to the mobile and social gaming space, it is important to look at an important evolution in the land based casino world that will probably impact game companies. I have blogged many times about international opportunities for game companies, and these opportunities are going to become more important in the social casino space. A recent article in The Economist, “The rise of the low-rollers,” highlights how the Asia-Pacific region is expected to become the biggest market for casinos by 2015 (as recently as 2010, the United States made up nearly half the global gambling market). This evolution is likely to be mirrored in the social casino space. In this post, I am going to lay out some developments on the land-based side and you can extrapolate how it might impact the social casino space.
Macau leads the way
When you look at Asia, you need to start with Macau, the former Portuguese colony now part of China. Described by Sheldon Alderson, the Chairman and CEO of Sands Corporation, as “The Las Vegas of the Far East,” its casinos generated $38 billion last year. Continue reading “Asia looms large for social casino games”
One of the most frequent mistakes in the game industry is making decisions based on a false negative. A false negative is a result of a test that shows as absent something that is actually present. One example of this is drug test that comes back negative but the person being tested is actually taking drugs and has taken masking agent to mislead the test. I have seen false negatives applied to virtually every element of the game industry, from green light to development to international markets.
False negatives in green light
Many games have not even been started because of false negatives. When determining the market potential for a game, one of the key criteria is the performance of similar titles. Frequently, though, people stretch to define “similar titles,” and this leads to projects being rejected. Continue reading “Avoid the false negative”
I have spoken at several conferences and written occasionally about opportunities for social games on (Web) networks other than Facebook. When I first moved into social gaming, some of the most exciting international economies (Germany, Brazil, Russia, Japan and China) were dominated by social networks not named Facebook. As the landscape has evolved, however, this opportunity is now less important for social game companies.
Continue reading “Whither social networks other than Facebook”