Over time we have seen MENA’s mobile gaming market to be one of the world’s top profitable markets. This is particularly surprising given the fact that it has not been tapped into very much. In the MENA (Middle East and Northern Africa region) market, whales make up less tha 10% of total users yet they generate nearly 60% of a given game’s revenue. Join Tamatem Inc.’s Monetization & UA Manager Lamia Shreim at Casual Connect Europe as she described how to manage whales from the MENA which have proven to be more challenging than whales in other areas of the globe. Language barriers and cultural sensitivity and two big contributors to this challenge. This talk titled The Importance of Managing Whales in MENA focused on the importance of managing whales from the MENA with an emphasis on why localization is the key to unlocking this market.
Lamia Shreim is Monetization & UA Manager at Tamatem Inc., the leading mobile games publisher in the MENA region. Lamia handles all their monetization and user acquisition. Her work involves analytics, in-game promotions and working on the financial modeling for all Tamatem’s games. Lamia initially heard about a job opening at Tamatem three years ago through a social media post; she had just finished her university education and were looking for a job in a startup in the Amman area.
A Passion for Analytics and Data Science
This job with Tamatem is Lamia’s first job although she did three internships while at university. She always planned to work at a startup rather than a traditional company. She is passionate about analytics and data science and, as the first woman in the Arab region to hold such a position, is a pioneer in the field.
Hussam Hammo, the CEO of Tamatem, has been an important force in Lamia’s career, During Lamia’s initial intervier, Hussam was very enthusiastic about hiring someone for this position although no one in the region had previously had such a position. Hussam guided Lamia through everything in the new job as she became more and more passionate about the work. Lamia emphasizes, “This wasn’t just a job I settled for, I enjoy everything about what I do, and I think it’s rare for someone to find their passion at such a young age.”
Freedom to Try New Things
Lamia appreciates the trust she gets from every member of the team, insisting that every new challenge is a great experience because she has full freedom to test and try out new things. With in-game promotions, Lamia enjoys segmenting users, A/B testing segments and promotions, and tailoring promotions for users. After each promotion she enjoys analyzing the data and using it to make enhancements to the next promotion. But the best part for Lamia is the overall work environment, a fun and loving culture that would be hard to find anywhere else.
At first working in the game industry was difficult for Lamia, in an important and essential position with no experience. She wanted to prove she was capable and able to handle everything in monetization and user acquisition. But now everything about the job is fun! “I never do the same thing twice, every day is a new challenge and every day I learn something new.”
Learning about monetization, user acquisition and games in general was Lamia’s first challenge and she wanted to excel at her work. She began taking courses, doing research, reading articles and she faced new challenges head on to grow her skills and abilities. Lamia started working with monetization, then analytics, then user acquisition, and then took over doing a financial model for the company. She is continually looking for new challenges.
In Lamia’s short career there have already been many exciting and satisfying moments. The most recent of these was when Hussam asked them to represent the company as a speaker at Casual Connect Europe 2018.
A Region With Great Potential
The growth of the mobile gaming market in the Arab region is exhilarating for Lamia and is something she expects to continue as it becomes very significant during the next few years. “There is so much potential in this region that foreign devs don’t know about,” she emphasized, “and with Tamatem growing more and more every year, I think the Arab region will become the target market for a lot of other developers.”
Monetization brings its own challenges, including dealing with all the ad networks, getting users to convert to paying users and keeping whale users engaged. Lamia was mentored in these challenges by Tamatem COO Eyad Al Basheer, who taught them the best practices, how to do it and what material to learn.
Starting in 2014, Tamatem’s monetization was based on ads. Then, in mid-2017, they started to focus more on IAPs, promotions and subscriptions. They always A/B test everything, allowing them to understand how to improve their monetization and to come up with new strategies. But the competition is tough! Right now subscriptions and cosmetics are on the rise so this will be their emphasis in the future.
Lamia has these recommendations for smaller companies in addressing their monetization issues: “Paid apps are declining now and users are no longer interested in them. Always go for the freemium model. You always have to keep your users engaged, and focus on retention. The game has to be engaging and should have subscriptions.”
Tamatem has several ways to keep players engaged and paying. They have localized 24/7 community support. They always have events and special tournaments for the players. And they segment users to give them tailored promotions, allowing a huge value discount.
The Important Things
Family and friends are a huge part of Lamia’s life so she spends much of her free time with them. She also enjoy squash and basketball and are always planning her next adventure in a new country. Lamia also admits to an obsession with Italian food.
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.