Last week, Sandsoft Games entered the games industry. The new video games publisher and developer is aiming to bring entertainment to MENA players. According to the team, the MENA market has seen twenty-five percent annual revenue growth. This makes it the highest rate of growth for video games globally. To welcome the new company, we talked with Mo Fadl, the CEO of Sandsoft Games. Without further due, let’s get into the interview.
“I believe MENA has incredible potential to become a global leader”
As you mentioned before, the MENA market has the highest growth rate. However, it is considered as an emerging market and the ecosystem remains underdeveloped. What are Sandsoft’s plans to change that?
It is indeed still considered an emerging market. Which is strange when you consider the consistent revenue growth, the young population with strong purchasing power and a thriving esports sector. I believe MENA has incredible potential to become a global leader and the gaming community is untapped and hungry for better experiences.
There are a few things we’re looking to do that we believe will shift the market: Create endemic experiences for MENA players through culturalization and not just localization. Providing more than just publishing services to help create a broader ecosystem for developers and publishers to launch their games in the region including in-house developers and leveraging the wider MENA infrastructure such as payment gateways, cloud services and retail thanks to our investment partners Ajlan & Bros and finally, we plan to invest in local talent – we’ll be hiring 60+ people within our first year with offices in various countries across the region; we’re hoping that this structure will allow us to create a strong sustainable gaming ecosystem in the MENA.
Sandsoft Games: Compared to the West, there is less cultural crossover with MENA
There’s a great potential in the MENA market. Can you tell us about the challenges of making a game that is suitable for Middle Eastern gamers?
There are unique challenges with making a game for MENA compared to other territories. As ultimately there is less cultural crossover with us compared to the West. This is why we are going further than other companies and making efforts to culturalise; keeping in mind that culturalization will vary from region to region within the MENA, which is a big reason why it is important for us to work with a diverse and multicultural team across development and publishing.
Specifically to the games, there are lots of gameplay, visual, story and other elements to keep in mind when adapting content for MENA. With one of the first games we’re working on, we had to adapt the music to fit more culturally to the Middle East. As the previous music was for an entirely different market and didn’t really resonate. A small detail that is often overlooked is that Arabic is read from right to left. The UI is generally not changed to reflect this. There are lots of small and big details like this that can really help make a game feel like it was made for MENA players.
MENA has more than 1Bn mobile users
Which platform is the most popular in MENA?
In recent years, Mobile gaming has really overtaken all other platforms in MENA. It has been the top earner since 2014, which isn’t surprising given the growth in popularity of Smartphones in the region. MENA has surpassed 1Bn mobile users and is forecast to hit 1.5Bn in 2021. PC games are also growing exponentially as the internet has been more readily available throughout the region.
As we already know, Sandsoft Games will publish for all platforms. Which one will the team focus on the most? Also, why?
For phase one, we will start off with 3rd Party publishing and developing mobile games. Then, we will follow this up with PC games. Though as a multiplatform 1st and 3rd party publisher and developer we will be working across all platforms.
Our team is quite diverse in terms of the games we play and this will no doubt be reflected in the games we develop and publish. It’s also important for us that we offer a wide range of games as it reflects the AAA development and publishing experience of the team so we can ensure we’re creating something for everyone.
We are all eagerly waiting to see Sandsoft Games’ upcoming projects but what is the team’s ultimate goal?
At Sandsoft, our ultimate goal is and has always been to create games which feel truly endemic and native to the player. We want to offer them the very best entertainment and gaming experience. Furthermore, we will do that by staying true to our culture and create games that are true to the Middle East. We also want to expand the industry and position the MENA as a global market leader while supporting home-grown talent.
Thanks to Sandsoft Games
That’s all we talked about with Mo Fadl. We learned many new things about MENA and developing games for the region. We are excited to see what Sandsoft Games is preparing, keep your eyes on Mobidictum for future coverage. The team is looking for new people. You can apply for the job by sending your CV to [email protected] or you can apply through LinkedIn.