abstract image of hands holding a smartphone with a map of turkey on the screen
Mobile Data , Mobile Games

Mobile Gaming in Turkey: A GEO with a Generation of Gamers

A young population and a pool of experienced developers. Given the right cultivation and conditions, this can be the precise success formula a region needs to become a breeding ground for gaming startups. 

Turkey emerged as the region’s gaming hub only around a decade ago. With 70 percent of Turkish people aged between 15 and 69 years old and heavy investment in the form of both money and professional training from universities and startup accelerator programs, mobile gaming in Turkey is thriving like never before.

We’re talking billion-dollar success stories: Gaming in Turkey brought in a total of 1.2 billion US dollars in 2021, and is set to climb by a compound annual growth rate of around ten percent by 2026. Now for a narrative in numbers – let’s dive into mobile gaming in Turkey.

1. Native Gamers: A Young Generation

While age is just a number, the number in this case is significant. With a population of over 84.5 million, around 15 percent of the total population is aged between 15 and 24. Even more interesting to note is that Turkey’s young population is higher than that of other EU countries.

And of this young population, 85 percent are digital natives who use the Internet regularly; the nation’s smartphone penetration rate is around 65 percent

This environment provides the perfect conditions for game development – with extensive career pathways including apprenticeships, bootcamps, accelerator programs, and degree programs geared toward the gaming industry. This is the gateway to gaming as Turkey knows it – and its ticket into a highly profitable ecosystem. The rise of the gaming industry has encouraged professionals from many verticals – including, software, film, and animation – to jump ship to join this industry.

a pair of hands holding a screen showing age group percentages in Turkey

2. Mobile Gamers by the Masses

Today, mobile games drive engagement from millions of users. From every age group. 

According to Gaming in Turkey’s latest market report, just under 80 percent of adults in Turkey play mobile games; this amounts to around 40 million people. The report also mentions Turkey’s average weekly gameplay duration, which tends to add up to ten hours a week in almost 50 percent of cases.

Hypercasual and casual games are still highly popular among Turkish gamers, with top-ranking games including Get the Supercar 3D, Subway Surfers, and Stick War: Hero Tower Defense. And the power of these verticals don’t seem to be heading anywhere any time soon.

3. Turkey Trumps Other Nations for Investment

In the aftermath of the pandemic, demand for mobile games increased significantly across the country. With the country facing an economic downturn, costs for gaming ventures became more affordable and attractive for foreign investors. In June 2020 Istanbul-based Peak Games was acquired by Zynga for 1.8 billion US dollars, making it Turkey’s first unicorn startup and widely acclaimed success story in mobile gaming.

Turkey is now a haven with a lot of hype for investment. In the first half of 2022, a total of 1.4 billion dollars was invested into Turkish business. And guess where just under a quarter of this investment went? Straight into gaming startups.

When you look at the investment poured into Turkish gaming startups, other nations fall far behind. The nation received 333 million US dollars in the first six months of 2022, up from 266 million US dollars received for the entire previous year.

bar graph showing investment for gaming in turkey compared with other European countries

After Turkey, the United Kingdom is in second place with 158 million US dollars. Norway is in third place with 60 million US dollars.

4. Profits Impress in Turkey’s Gaming Sector

Ranked for revenue, mobile gaming firms in Turkey are among the nation’s top profit powerhouses – this is according to Fast Company’s list of the top-100 Internet companies in Turkey.

If we look at Turkey’s three highest-earning mobile gaming firms – Peak Games, Rollic Games, and Gram Games – each is a subsidiary of US mobile games publisher Zynga.

  • You might know Peak Games for its casual puzzle games Toy Blast and Toon Blast, and Zynga acquired Peak Games in August 2020 for a total of 1.8 billion US dollars.
  • Rollic is best known for Hair Challenge, High Heels, and Tangle Master 3D. Zynga acquired hypercasual games developer Rollic Games in October 2020 for 180 million US dollars.
  • Gram Games produces merge titles, such as Merge Dragons, Zynga paid 250 million US dollars for Gram Games back in May 2018.

5. Turkish Titles Drive More Downloads

With 178,000 game publishers and over 493,000 game titles, app stores, such as the Google Play Store, are home to around 10,160 Turkish mobile games and over 2,850 Turkish publishers

Mobile games born and bred in Turkey by Turkish publishers attract an average of 944,330 downloads from keen mobile gamers. Meaning, Turkish gaming titles enjoy far more downloads – in fact, roughly 70 percent more – than the average for all mobile games, which is just under 550,000. Turkish-developed mobile games also accounted for 20 percent of the top-100 downloaded titles in the United States last year. Not a bad feat.

Why? Remember that geographically and culturally, Turkey is in the middle of both the east and the west. This means it benefits from its ability to adapt to different cultures. We can see this in the nation’s game designs.

Will Turkey Continue to Triumph Despite Turbulence?

The past two years have not been easy for Turkey. Especially, with the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent currency crises, which proved challenging for numerous businesses. That being said, one sector stormed to success: mobile gaming.

The sector celebrated its most lucrative days and achieved record revenue numbers. But wary heads are slowly turning toward the ever-increasing competition across the region. New studios are popping up every day, highlighting the importance of speed and agility in keeping up with the pace of the industry. Creativity is, however, at the very core of this market and requires time.

Luckily, with such a young population at the helm of Turkey’s gaming industry – a generation who tends to stray away from bureaucracy – the mindset to think outside the box and move fast is already there. As are the resources.

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