Can gaming be as big as automotive industry for Turkey?
When talking about trends in the past I have always allowed room for gaming. By now, everyone realizes that gaming is serious business. It has become mainstream. From our early childhood days to our final days as an adult we play games. Some play on the streets, some play board games and some play computer games.
This latter group has grown exponentially across the globe. Turkey is no different. In our country, there are more than 30 million people who have played some sort of a computer game in 2017. The global market for computer games is $165 billion. The Turkish market alone is worth $800 million, 15 percent higher than last year, which makes the Turkish gaming market the 16th largest globally.
The entire Middle Eastern market is worth $3 billion and rising steadily. In Turkey alone, 13 million people have purchased a computer game or related product at least once. It is expected that the Turkish gaming industry will hit an import potential of a staggering $2 billion dollars within a few years.
That is why recently Zynga has acquired the mobile card game studio of Turkey’s Peak Games for $100 million in cash. Peak Games focuses on casual games that are popular worldwide, such as spades and gin rummy. Peak Games titles grossed more than an estimated $165 million from the App Store and Google Play worldwide during the first three quarters of 2017, according to measurement firm Sensor Tower. Compared to the same period in 2016, this revenue grew approximately 145 percent. Its highest-grossing title, Toy Blast, earned more than an estimated $124 million, or about 75 percent of the total. After Toy Blast, its next largest earners are card games Okey Plus, Spades Plus and Gin Rummy Plus, which grossed an estimated $18 million, $9 million and $8 million respectively, during the first three quarters of 2017.
There are around 600 game development studios in Turkey. Bahçeşehir University, Istanbul Bilgi University, İzmir Economy University and İpek University have departments devoted to gaming. Middle East Technical University and Hacettepe University are planning to open gaming departments soon.
There are of course a few conferences and exhibitions that also treat gaming. The biggest of them is Gaming Istanbul (GIST) from Jan. 31-Feb. 4. I urge everyone to attend. I had the opportunity to talk to GIST Marketing Director Meriç Eryürek and he told me the show will have something for everyone.
There will be seminars for professionals in the industry. These will focus on the gaming technologies and the business side of the industry. In the exhibition hall, numerous companies will showcase their latest games and technologies. Ubisoft, Pearl Abyss, Türk Telekom, Garanti Bankası, Media Markt, ByNoGame, Param, Xbox, Playstation, Epin, Monster Energy, Redbull, Vestel, Papara, Game Satış, Adore Mobilya, Seti Medya, Ewaapro, Xdrive, Oyungezer, Proud Dinasours, GearBest, Beluga Global, Codemodeon, Binary Games, Zocco’s, QP bilişim, OverGame, Zeren’s Universe, Appodeal, Admost, TCA, Portable Marketing ve Rising Tech, Bilizzard and Nvidea will exhibit at the show.
There will also be a “cosplay competition” with a 10,000 Turkish Lira prize along with other gaming competitions.
So, back to the title of this piece. Can the gaming industry be as big as the automotive industry for Turkey? The automotive industry exported $26 billion worth of products in 2017, some 18 times more than expectations for the gaming industry in 2018 or 2019. So in the short run it is impossible. But in 2016, China’s gaming industry created $25 billion in revenues. If we focus our efforts today, in five to ten years we could catch up with the likes of China.