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The coronavirus outbreak, an opportunity for the mobile gaming industry

While the Covid-19 epidemic is destabilizing global financial markets, the mobile gaming market has never been better. The situation rapidly evolved as an opportunity for the companies from the online and mobile entertainment industry, which are making profit of the globalized boredom imposed by the quarantine. This is the case of Tamatem, the leading publisher and developer of mobile games in the Middle East, which has seen its growth climb since the beginning of the crisis.

Founded by Jordanian entrepreneur Hussam Hammo, Tamatem has quickly become the leading mobile game provider in the Arab market, even if it aims to extend its expertise beyond the Middle East. Just before the start of the pandemic, the company raised 3.5 million dollars from a venture capital, money that its founder plans to invest to reach new emerging markets, but also to set up in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where the gaming market is booming and estimated at 165 million dollars for 2020.

What drew you into gaming back in 2013 ? How did the Middle East market look like at that time?

In 2013, I came up with the idea of localizing mobile games for Arab gamers. After studying the market, I noticed that Arabic is the 4th most spoken language and yet, only 1% of online content is available in Arabic. In addition, the region boasts the world’s highest ARPPUs (Average Revenue Per Paying User) presenting a great opportunity for international developers interested in the MENA market. This is how I embarked on a journey to Silicon Valley to be the first arabic company to join “500 startups” program. Today, with high barriers to entry for foreign developers due to language complexities, cultural specificities and unique monetization mechanisms, Tamatem became an ideal publisher choice for any mobile games studio looking to maximize their global reach.

How the Covid-19 has affected Tamatem business ?

Covid is an unfortunate event for the world, it came surprisingly and affected all kinds of businesses. In our case, Tamatem belongs to the entertainment industry, people are asked to stay home during this time and so more and more people are spending time on their phones, watching movies, playing games, or chatting with friends. Therefore, Tamatem saw a tremendous growth in its business during this time, in March, our revenue grew by 35% in comparison to February and April is looking great as well. The gaming industry in general is seeing 20-40% growth and so the same is happening with Tamatem. We also took advantage of those times in getting more and more people to play our games, as part of the campaigns of keeping people safe at home. We offered the gamers more bundles, offers and packages to encourage them to stay in and stay safe. Also, our team is doing great working from home, we followed best practices and everyone is motivated and is being even more productive.

How did you adapt yourself to the situation with your employees ?

We were the first to work from home, even before the official government announcement. Our employees health is our main priority and we wouldn’t want them to get hurt in any way. Working from home is looking great for us, everyone is motivated to work and is being productive. We are following best practices, over communicating, adding some fun to our work days (Walk in the sun, virtual coffee, after work games and activities), and most importantly we are motivating our employees and communication all the time as if we are in the office. We are also one of the few companies that are still hiring and onboarding virtually, our business is running and so we need resources and to create employment opportunities.

What were the main challenges ?

Our B2B business is the main challenge, as it is a bit challenging for us now to get new partnerships as the economy is risky. So we decided to concentrate on our games for now and keep the new partnerships till this situation is clearer. The uncertainty of the situation can be considered a challenge but all in all we are doing great so far and are adapting well.

What are your projects for the post-crisis phase?

Post corona, we want to make sure our players keep the games on their phones and start playing more and more, we want to make sure their experience is great enough for them to keep the apps and use them. We will also get back heavily to our B2B business and get more and more leads and partners. Our plan also includes hosting more offline events for the brand to increase brand awareness and hopefully open another office, possibly in KSA.