Turkish gamers and designers eyeing lucrative market
ISTANBUL - Anadolu Agency
AA PhotoTurkey is home to a multi-million-dollar piece of the world’s digital game industry, which has steadily grown from the preserve of teenage bedrooms to become a powerful and profitable business sector, while domestic developers are working to maximize the country’s potential in this ever-expanding and lucrative market.
Istanbul recently hosted a major gaming summit which attracted thousands of players, designers and industry figures to Turkey’s largest city, while the country has also produced award-winning games for mobile phones and PCs.
The total revenue of Turkey’s digital game industry hit $464 million in 2015, forming part of a $91-billion industry worldwide, according to a report published by the Turkish Game Developers’ Association. The popularity of gaming in Turkey can be partly explained by the high number of Internet users - roughly 41.3 million out of a population of 78 million. Over 54 percent of these online Turks play games.
However, despite Turkey’s nearly half-billion-dollar market size, foreign digital game companies have obtained 95 percent of the total revenue. The Turkish Game Developers Association data shows that the country’s game industry needs to be improved to take advantage of the domestic market’s potential.
“There is serious consumption in Turkey… people love to play games,” one expert told Anadolu Agency.
Güven Çatak, a professor of computer architecture at Istanbul-based Bahçeşehir University and the founder and director of the university’s game design graduate program, said, “The reason why the Turkish sector’s output is not enough is that there is no strong ‘production line’ in the game industry.”
Çatak claimed that although the Turkish game industry has accelerated in the last five years, it is an “interdisciplinary zone” which requires art, design and technology and musical skills.
“Creating a game only is not enough; it must be marketed,” he said.
According to Newzoo - a leading research company in the game market - Turkey is sixteenth on the list of total national game revenue with $464.3 million from a 78.6-million population. However, Germany was fifth with game revenue of $3.6 billion coming from a population of 80 million, while the U.K. was in sixth place with $3.5 billion and a 64.7-million-strong population.
Çatak said government policies must match the sector’s needs and regulations should encourage game developers.
He gave Canada as an example. The North American country changed policies nearly 10 years ago to provide tax allowances to game developers. This prompted many Europe-based game creators to shift to Canada to lower costs. Consequently, Canada’s game industry revenue has risen to $1.8 billion despite only having a population of 35.9 million.
In Turkey, game studios, developers, software companies and designers have established two associations in the capital Ankara and Istanbul.
“They have become a communication tool between the sector and the government… they are trying to fit the regulations to the industry,” Çatak said.
‘22.5 million gamers in Turkey’
These advocates play a significant role in the global market as they organize exhibitions, conferences and open-space meetings.
Istanbul hosted a second leading game exhibition called Gaming Istanbul with over 300 software companies, game developers and leading businesses from the sector taking part in early February.
The organizer of the Istanbul expo, GL Exhibitions Turkey CEO Mustafa Gürbüz, told Anadolu Agency that “Turkey would be a country that links Asia and Africa and Europe in the digital marketplace.”
“Turkey is the biggest digital game marketplace in Europe with more than 77 million people, 40 percent of whom have an Internet connection at home,” said Bartosz Skwarczek, CEO and co-founder of G2A.com, the world’s fastest-growing online video game distribution marketplace.
Skwarczek said Turkey had great potential in the digital game market in terms of the number of players. “There are 22.5 million gamers in Turkey. I believe this can be much more,” he said, adding that new gamers were joining their ranks every year.
However, while Turkey stood at sixteenth in the list of total revenue of the world’s game industry in 2015, China was first with $22.2 billion and the U.S. followed with $21.9 billion.
The worldwide digital game industry’s total revenue last year, some $91 billion, overtook the music and film sectors combined, according to a recent report published by the Ankara-based Digital Game Developers’ Association.
Turkey has some outstanding game companies, including Peak Games, which produces global-scale mobile offerings and is very successful in its business and marketing phases, said Çatak.
It has released 18 products and had 30 million monthly active users last year.
Another popular Turkish company is TaleWorlds, creator of the medieval role-playing game series Mount & Blade.