How To Launch A Game In The Middle East and Not Lose FansApr 13, 2021
TL;DR Players in the MENA region know the pain of network weakness well. Since it’s an overlooked issue, they will reward you for ensuring a low-latency playing experience. You know that high-quality connectivity is one of the biggest ingredients of success. If it's not at the top of your priority list, you’ll want to move it up. Estimated read time: 7 minutes Are you ready to launch a game in the Middle East? You want to win over as many potential players as possible, and of course, you don't want to lose fans. Whether this a brand new game or if you're porting an existing title to the region, there’s one major issue you're most likely to run into—lag. As a game publisher, you have a lot on your plate. Launching a game is a delicate balancing act, and ultimately, not every factor is in your control. Game launches can and do flop for any number of reasons. Launching a game in the Middle East and North Africa market takes three steps: Translate the game into local languages. You want to remove barriers to entry and ensure that your players can engage and understand your game. Run a regionally-focused marketing blitz. Every region is different, and every target audience in that region will have their own specific reasons for wanting to play your game. Ensure you are ready for your new players. You've already built the best game, deployed the best servers, and leveraged CDNs, but the weakness is in the network itself. Most game publishers ace steps one and two. Translation can be time-consuming, but its payoffs are clear. If you want to go a step beyond language localization, it is worth considering “adapting or modifying game characters or other important graphic assets, making them more suitable for different cultures.” A little investment in relevance and relatability can go a long way. Engaging regional influencers and streamers can take some incentivizing, but it's quite fun to get them excited about being the first to showcase your game—nothing beats word of mouth advertising! Both are important steps in increasing your ROI. Connectivity Is Not The Same Everywhere It's step three that can be tricky, and not because you didn't plan for capacity. Everyone knows you have to be able to handle new players; capacity is table stakes. And almost every major online game now has Middle East servers, but that only highlights the fact that the main issue is connectivity, not capacity. You can't take connectivity for granted. Even though the biggest games have regional servers, players complain about lag all the time. Failing to factor in connectivity can cost you dearly. The last thing you want is to launch a game in MENA and lose fans because connectivity wasn’t considered. Some game publishers aren't aware of the issues with latency. Most certainly have no idea how it can cost them fans. If you did everything right, your potential players are awaiting your game’s launch with excitement and anticipation. But what happens when they finally hit play, only to be met with high ping, huge latency, and lost framerates? Instead of screaming their lungs out on a thrilling roller coaster, they're stuck on a broken ride. As latency increases, players' performance decreases, and players’ stress level increases, as one study shows. The only solution is to get off the rollercoaster and never come back. Excitement quickly changes to frustration and disappointment. Their friends and followers are going to be the first to know. When your game is unplayable, word on the street spreads fast. Adding Servers And Using Peering Is Not Enough Many parts of the world simply do not have the quality connection many of us have learned to expect, or even the conditions that we are used to developing our applications under. Even the biggest game publishers on the planet have made this mistake before. They throw servers and peering at the problem and think that's that. More servers help if the initial servers are overloaded. More peering helps too, but only to an extent—lag still persists. When you're doing your testing, it’s important to make sure you are factoring in local latency. Preparing in an optimized environment from an optimized location can lead to pretty big blind spots. "If you add more servers, sure, gamers at the very top level will be able to train and compete on a more level playing field, but that's a very small number. The real issue is the lack of a gaming infrastructure across the region," says Luciano Rahal, an esports consultant in Dubai. "The investment into gaming long-term is really just beginning [in the Middle East], and it’s still behind compared to other global markets. Some leaders see investing in gaming as a short-term win, either to increase popularity or to make quick money. But most countries lack the infrastructure, the development [programs], lobbyists, academies, and training facilities to create an environment for top gamers." The region is undergoing infrastructure upgrades and prioritizing the gaming market, both essential to expanding the reach of player pools and putting their players on the map—but partnerships are the keys to unlocking its full potential. Players in the MENA region know the pain of network weakness well. Since it’s an overlooked issue, they will reward you for ensuring a low-latency playing experience. You know that high-quality connectivity is one of the biggest ingredients of success. If it's not at the top of your priority list, you’ll want to move it up. Quality Connectivity Happens With Subspace Achieving quality connectivity requires "billions of measurements from every network/geo combination to every piece of infrastructure in use (clouds, CDNs or private data centers)," as this VentureBeat article explains. "These measurements must be made available to the global traffic management engine in real-time. But this is not enough for an industry that demands flexibility and scalability. What is also needed is the ability to consume this service as an API that allows the gaming client to be an informed participant in this decision tree." As a game publisher, you may not have the time or resources to build the necessary infrastructure to handle these measurements. That’s time that’s best spent creating and optimizing your gameplay and assets. That’s where Subspace comes in. We’ve built a network platform that is truly optimized for real-time applications. You make gains almost immediately by plugging your game into a super-highway made for predictable, low-latency performance. With precision measurements and continuous optimization, we are democratizing access to quality, high-speed networks around the globe. We have successfully launched, and continue to expand, partnerships that deliver near-plug-and-play access to quality connectivity in MENA. Learn more about the role of networks in your game’s success and profitability in this whitepaper.