The following interview was conducted with Rina Onur, Chief Strategy Officer at Peak Games. Peak Games is a huge force in social games publishing with a focus on emerging markets. They also provided us with two awesome infographics you can see below.
The idea behind the interview was to shine a spotlight on the game development scene in Turkey. Similar
articles will follow, featuring other global hubs of social game development.
Before we start, a quick overview of Peak Games:
Peak Games (http://www.peakgames.net/) is the largest and fastest-growing gaming company focusing on emerging markets such as Turkey, MENA, Latin America and Mexico. With more than 16 million active players drawn from one of the world’s fastest growing gaming markets, Peak Games already ranks among the top 10 largest social gaming companies globally. A key to Peak Games’ success is unrivaled expertise in creating and publishing social games that fit the unique interests and cultures of emerging markets. The company is funded by venture capital firms Earlybird Venture Capital; Hummingbird Ventures; a strategic, regional investor; and serial business angels Evren Ucok and Demet Mutlu. Peak Games have offices and game studios in Istanbul, Ankara, Amman, Barcelona, Berlin and San Francisco.
VSG: Is the Turkish game developer scene a vibrant one? Are people from different companies getting together and sharing learnings or is everybody working in their own cave?
RO: I think it is surely getting there. If you look at Asia, you’ll surely see hundreds and thousands of gaming companies. This shows you that there is a gaming ecosystem there. Turkey is extremely vibrant in terms or consumer demand, retention, engagement and usership bit content providing – especially in terms of social gaming. That’s also one of Peak’s goals, to create an ecosystem in turkey and MENA for gaming and disrupt the market. We want more gaming companies to emerge in these regions to foster interaction in terms of content providing.
VSG: Are most game being built in Turkey targeted for the MENA market or a more global market?
RO: We’re focused on the global market – and more specifically emerging markets like Turkey, MENA and Latin America/Mexico. We’ve focused on taking care of the high–growth Turkish market, taking care of our players here and really dominating our home market. We’re also very focused on MENA as well and have an office in Amman and once again focus on localization and deep cultural relevance. And a good game is a good game so we’ll come to market in other languages as appropriate.
VSG: Istanbul seems to be world leader in social game development? How did this come about? What is the history of the industry?
RO: Actually Istanbul is filled with young talent having studied or worked either in difrerent industries here or abroad. Amman on the other hand, where we have our MENA office, is the technical hub of the Middle East. Turkey has 30 million Facebook users with 70 percent of people actively playing games. There’s a very similar situation with MENA. So when you have people demanding this and others who are trained to provide it, the market emerges. Nevertheless we transfer know-how and talent from Germany, Spain and the US- that’s one of the reasons why we have offices in 5 different cities around the world. We consider Peak as a school for all our of team members. Regardless of your past experience, we’ll make sure to teach them everything we’ve learned over the past 10 years being involved in different aspects of online gaming.
VSG: What are the biggest success stories in the Turkish game dev scene?
RO: Can I be extremely un-humble here and say Peak Games? I’m extremely proud of all our team, top management, advisors, super-suppotive investors. We’re a less than a year-old company and we’ve raised multiple rounds, commanded leadership position in 2 of the hottest emerging markets in the world, expanded into other regions and made the name of a Turkish company heard worldwide. Again, all because of the immense dedication of our team.
VSG: Are their many foreigners working in Turkish game development or is it all people born and raised in Turkey?
RO: Mostly Turks in Turkey and Arabs in MENA, but we have a lot of people who have studied/worked or lived abroad for years. Those are usually the people who come back with invaluable know-how. We also work with expats who’re located in our countries of operation, but mostly locals.
VSG: How do games built for a Turkish audience differ from those built for other countries? Is there a difference in mechanics, culture, content or anything else?
RO: Of course- both the Turkish and MENA markets are extremely peculiar and unique. The language is different, the culture is different, the history and habits are different. The advantage is that the two regions are extremely similar to each other and share a lot of the cultural commonalities, but they’re a different universe from the rest of the world. Thus, the next trend off the block might not always fit the bill in these regions. For the games we develop, we always develop what the world might consider ‘niche’ games, because they’re culturually relevant to the people we target in these emerging markets. Also for the games we publish, we localize both the text and the assets heavily and provide community support/ promotions and advertising in the local language respecting local culture.