Sci & Tech

Raging Success of Mobile Games

Raging Success  of Mobile Games
Raging Success  of Mobile Games

Supercell has joined the club of foreign game developers to accept the Iranian currency rial, at least for its flagship title Clash of Clans.

"The mobile gaming giant struck a deal on March 24 with the largest third-party app store in Iran, Cafe Bazaar, which plugs Clash of Clans into its local payment gateway," Amir-Esmaeil Bozorgzadeh writes for Venture Beat magazine.

This enables Iranians to pay for in-app purchases using their debit card by way of an interbank system called Shetab.

Supercell is left with 61% of revenues after a 9% VAT is deducted and Cafe Bazaar claims 30%. The metrics on Cafe Bazaar site clock over 5 million purchases to date for Clash of Clans and over 1 million for Clash Royale.

Other members of the club include Elex-Tech and its rival title, Clash of Kings.

The company can’t be happy after having Supercell bump out its competitive advantage in the market—and so soon after the technical upset in February when its hosting provider, SoftLayer, decided to suddenly block all user traffic coming out of Iran.

Its gamer base had to start using VPNs to access Clash of Kings. However, in combination with this move of Supercell, the future does not look too bright.

To give you a clearer picture of the landscape Supercell is dealing with, Bozorgzadeh ran a survey involving 1,030 mobile gamers between April 22 and April 24 in Iran.

Sixty-four percent of mobile gamers in the country are playing Clash of Clans and 30% are playing Clash Royale. Compare this to the 9% share for Clash of Kings and you get a better sense of Elex-Tech’s plight.

There is simply no other contender to be seen, which effectively monopolizes the entire country.

Clash of Clans’ popularity has grown exponentially in Iran during the past few years and the newcomer, Clash Royale, became an immediate hit upon its global release.

This is not necessarily surprising since the whole world is witnessing the stunning success of this elegant card collectible-strategy hybrid.

GamesBeat’s Jeff Grubb recently reported on Newzoo latest figures indicating that Clash Royale is nearing the $1 billion mark globally in record time. The same figures indicate that the Middle East only contributes a paltry 1% share, according to an article on Venture Beat's Middle East website.

A major element to what makes the game so successful in Iran lies in the social aspect. Over two-thirds say that clans are important to them when it comes to Supercell games.

It’s quite common these days to find that friends or even couples in Iran met through playing one of these mobile hits.

Telegram is the messaging app of choice in Iran and that’s where clans like Lajevardi’s “Persian Gulf” anchor all of their communications.

Dedicated Telegram channels to Supercell titles are springing up all over the place. It’s where they share the latest game news, strategies and details on offline events that offer the gamer community an opportunity to connect in real life.

The enthusiasm has even extended into "e-sports". Iran Cyber Games ran a Clash Royale tournament for the first time this month. It consisted of a double elimination of 50 players hosted on the "Toornament esport" platform. Each player paid $2 (60,000 rials) as a registration fee, with a grand prize of $400 up for grabs.

That’s a considerable sum when you take into account that two-thirds of mobile gamers in Iran make less than $571 per month.

“I have spent around $2,000 (60 million rials) in Clash of Clans but already $1,000 (30 million rials) in Clash Royale,” added Lajevardi. “I know a lot of players who spend $100 (3 million rials) a day to stay in the top charts.”

Supercell’s deal with Cafe Bazaar is certainly a step in the right direction, but it needs to address a few stumbling blocks. One is that 43% of respondents said they don’t trust paying through Cafe Bazaar for their in-app purchases on Clash of Clans.

Like Lajevardi, they prefer to pay using gift cards that are trafficked illegally into the country in abundance, which allow them to stick to the official app stores.

In fact, about 48% of the Android gamers indicate using Cafe Bazaar. The other half (52%) are downloading games primarily on Google Play. Even more telling is that 82% say they would prefer to use the official app stores over third-party ones, if they were simply more readily available. The other issue is that global pricing of the in-app items is simply too expensive for ordinary Iranians.

Over half or 53% of those who play Supercell games have never even made an in-app purchase. Of those who do pay, 46% primarily pay by Shetab, 34% by credit cards somehow acquired in foreign countries and 21% by gift cards.