The process of creating a mobile game takes a significant amount of time for planning, designing and fixing. But when it comes to choosing of the primary distribution markets all becomes more apparent. Western publisher traditionally goes to the “West” (the US, the UK, Canada, Germany, France, Australia, etc.). Eastern publisher goes to the “East” (China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, etc.). All the countries mentioned above, despite the location, have something familiar – the huge revenue.
At the moment, China is an absolute leader of mobile games market with $10 billion of revenues in 2016. North America, Japan, and Western Europe going right after China with total revenues of $18 billion as of last year. But what about emerging markets? And what is important to bear in mind while choosing a new promising market for spreading your mobile game? Let’s take a look!
Usually, the primal choice is English-speaking countries (United States, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand). And it’s no wonder: these markets are profitable. Also, it takes fewer efforts for the developer to enter: no need for localization. And, finally, it’s safer: these markets are well explored, culture is similar, so there are less underwater rocks.
Switching from the Western part of the market to the Eastern part, it’s easy to emphasize China, Japan, and South Korea for tremendous revenues, which make the most of APAC region. Without these three countries, APAC is hardly able to outperform North America and Western Europe. But it’s matter of time: SEA (Southeast Asia) is the one of the world’s fastest growing mobile games region. Mobile revenues here are increasing with an astonishing CAGR (2015 – 2019) of +45.3%. And it’s well above the global average of +14.6%. This region is also known for the high level of engagement among local players and the massive number of beginning players. Young mobile gamers are the main reason for the rapid rise in revenues in the region. In Indonesia, for instance, the difference between male players aged 10-20 and 21-35 is only 3%.
Another important factor driving mobile game spending in Southeast Asia is how often people play. Gamers in the region usually play mobile games on daily, providing game makers plenty of opportunities to cross-promote new titles and upsell existing customers on new game features.
Mobile revenues for the entire Southeast Asia region reached a mark of $1.5 billion in 2016. 95% of revenues are coming from the “Big 6” countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Rapid growth in these six countries over the coming years will lead to revenues of $3.9 billion by 2019.
Among this “Big 6”, Indonesia is the fastest growing and largest SEA market regarding revenues. On the other hand, Singapore is the smallest Southeast mobile market in terms of gamers but has the fourth largest revenues ($211 million) due to a very high average spend per paying player of $226.
LATAM (Latin America), consisting of Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina, as the primary mobile markets in the region, is the second-fastest-growing region in the world after Southeast Asia. The mobile market in Latin America has grown from $0,9 billion in 2015 to $1.4 billion in 2016. At the moment, it takes a mark of $ 1,7 billion with a strong tendency to grow. It’s going to reach a mark of $3 billion in 2019, accounting for 48% of the gaming market in the region.
Last year, while PC and console gaming was taking up the majority of the market, 77% of paying console players in Argentina and 64% in Mexico were also spending money on mobile games, pushing mobile games on the top of revenue leaders in a segment of video games.
MEA (Middle East Asia) region is, for real, dark horse of mobile games landscape. For the last years, it was the least interesting region for the most of the game devs due to several factors. It is accepted by western publishers to consider this area as a hard for entering and monetizing. Also, there is a high prejudice that this market is unprofitable. Nevertheless, MEA, at the moment, one of the most grossing mobile markets in the world. The revenue leaders here are Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and UAE. Saudi Arabia, by the way, has the one of the highest average revenue per paying user in the world. As of now, it’s about $270 (In China, for comparison, ARPPU is about $32).
The last couple of years shows the strong leadership of MEA and LATAM, as regions with the most prominent percentage of year-on-year revenue growth.
The relatively small online populations in Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam will increase rapidly as the spread of smart mobile devices drives the internet penetration. In the same time, Malaysia and Singapore have already matured as markets with the vast percentage of people, owning a smartphone (51% and 87% respectively).
The smartphone penetration index in Brazil remains quite low (48,2%), unlike in Chile or Mexico.
In MEA region, UAE is a country with one of the highest indexes of smartphone penetration in the world (82,1%). Saudi Arabia on the second place with 76,7%.
The average revenue per user – the metric, which is entirely different depending on a country (with such constant ARPU leader as Japan) and game genre (hardcore genres, like RPG and Strategy, have higher ARPU than casual ones). To create an approximate picture of ARPU index among emerging mobile game markets, we are putting a table with data below.
Averagely, the SEA market shows the best result regarding revenues from each player on a game. And we expect the fastest growth of ARPU in emerging markets precisely among Southeast Asian gamers.
Like ARPU, Cost-per-install also changes significantly depending on some variables, including platform, vertical and region. The range is extensive. The lowest CPI on emerging mobile game markets of East Europe and Latin America. The highest one goes for Loyal User in North America and the most developed countries of APAC. A “loyal user” has a different definition. But in the case of a game, it can be considered as “reaching level 5” or “completing a micro-transaction.”
As was mentioned above, the difference between regions is truly significant. But what the difference between specific countries of the emerging markets? As we can discover from the data below, among three one, Latin America has the lowest CPI for both platforms. SEA countries have averagely the same CPI, except Singapore, which is quite more expensive for obvious reasons. In MEA, Saudi Arabia has the highest CPI for iOS, while Turkey – for Android.
Compared to such huge Asian mobile game markets like China and Japan, there is a much higher English proficiency in SEA. In Singapore and the Philippines English is the official language. But that’s not the same everywhere: according to the EF EPI, Thailand still demonstrates very low English proficiency, while Indonesia, the largest SEA market, only has moderate proficiency. So localization in these countries makes sense.
Talking about localization in LATAM, should be mentioned that European Spanish (español) and Latin American Spanish (castellano) have enough of differences; so localizing two Spanish versions will be a good idea, considering that the LATAM mobile game market is bigger than Spanish mobile game market itself.
Localizing games in MEA region means a lot, especially, in GCC countries. At the moment, the absolute leader of the Arab mobile game market is Revenge of Sultans (انتقام السلاطين). It is a rip-off of Game of War, but it’s performing much better there than the original. The primary factor here is a full immersion into local history, customs and, of course, the presence of Arabic language.
In 2013, when the US mobile game market was almost a four times bigger than the Chinese, it was hard to imagine, that China will be on the top just in few years. Who knows where will be the next mobile gaming “Sangrail”? At the meantime, game developers can get the most of the new and very promising game markets, like SEA, LATAM, and MEA, thanks to the following advantages:
Let’s emphasize three countries from each of the emerging markets and summarize why these countries are cool:
With revenues of $331 million, Indonesia is the largest mobile games market in Southeast Asia. Indonesian mobile gamers have one of the highest day 1 retention rates in SEA. And the highest day 30 retention rate among Southeast Asian countries on Android (4.4%) and iOS (7.7%). Also, CPI in Indonesia is one of the lowest in the region.
The most of the game developers are used to consider the Middle East and Africa the last for new game releases. So MEA market is missing the quality well-localized mobile games. Among MEA countries, Saudi Arabia is the one of those, which consuming mobile products in significant amounts and is ready to spend money on it with the one of the highest ARPPU in the world.
Not so far, Brazil has passed the leader’s laurels to Mexico. Now we can see the new LATAM leader in terms of revenues. Mexico looks attractive as a decent market for upcoming and existing mobile titles due to several factors. It has one of the highest growth rates among all emerging countries; the high percentage of gamers who spend money on mobile games. And, finally, a quite low CPI rate.
Getting in touch with new markets and receiving the most of the user acquisition is better with an experienced partner. You can get more insights about the emerging markets and conduct your next marketing campaign there by contacting our manager.