Turkish and Middle Eastern developer Peak Games announced a $5 million round of series A investment today, led by Earlybird Venture Capital. This brings the developer’s total funding up to $7.5 million toward expanding its social games library in Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa (abbreviated as MENA), and other regions.
According to our social game traffic tracking service, AppData, Peak Games currently enjoys a combined 8.4 million monthly active users and 1.6 million daily active users across both its in-house developed games and its published titles. Its top performing in-house titles are variations on the Turkish tile game, Okey, which is a form of rummy. Its top performing published title is a farming sim called Komşu Çiftlik, developed by TheBroth.
What makes Peak Games truly unique is its success in emerging regions that Western developers often dismiss as regions as places that don’t monetize well. Peak Games CEO Sidar Sahin explains that this is a misconception of these regions that comes from developers that don’t understand the audiences of the region. For its part, Sahin says that Peak Games has seen much higher average revenues per user in Turkey and MENA than it has in Russia, China, or Eastern Europe. He explains that Peak Games succeeds in monetizing in these regions because the developer knows what the audience wants, whereas other developer stumble over fundamental cultural difference.
For example, Sahin and Peak Games co-founder/CSO Rina Onur explain to ISG that in Turkey and the MENA region, day-to-day socialization between potential social game players doesn’t occur in the same places or with the same frequency as it does with Western social game players who can go out to bars or tennis courts to meet people. This means that actual socialization in-game is something the Turkish and MENA audiences crave, usually in the form of private chat rooms and in games that require multiple players to participate online at roughly the same time — like board games and card games.
Peak Games succeeds at monetizing with this audience by providing a “VIP” subscription access to its games, which allows users to form private chat rooms to interact with other players. While subscription models haven’t performed well in Western-developed social games, it does seem to be a winning strategy in the MENA region. We’ve recently seen a strategy “VIP” paid level of access in Israel-based Playtika’s Farkle Pro. It seems this model lends itself well to lifetime user value and overall conversion of players. Peak Games estimates the lifetime value of a board game player at one year.
The trick for Peak Games will be keeping its brand distinct, even as competing developers encroach on its game types. For example, Turkish developer Mynet has a similar lineup of titles that feature the Okey game type. Peak Games will also have to look at expanding to other regions, which the developer has begun to do in Latin America with a new studio recently opened in São Paulo, Brazil.
For now, Sahin says the focus of the funding will be on hiring new staff for in-house development, some investment in new regional offices and new talent for those offices, on mobile platform expansions, and also on marketing and user acquisition. Up until now, Peak Games has relied primarily on viral growth — and it seems to have paid off, with several of its games recently appearing on our top 20 lists of games by growth.