Turkey in the Digital Game Sector and E-Sports

There are 5 Turkish games in top 10 mobile games around the globe and the foreign investment in Turkish mobile game developers is increasing every year. In addition to mobile games, there are almost 30 Turkish games – developed by Turkish companies – in the top 100 PC games.

Turkey in the Digital Game Sector and E-Sports
International entertainment and games expo Gaming Istanbul (GIST) 2019 kicks off in Istanbul, Turkey on January 31, 2019. Anadolu Agency

Turkey’s Minister of Commerce – Ruhsar Pekcan – stated that the export of the digital game sector in Turkey in 2018 has exceeded 1 billion dollars since 2016, when it was only $500 million. The number given by the minister during the meeting ‘Digital Game Software Export Numbers’ – organized by TOGED (Turkish Game Developers Association) and TIM (Turkish Exporters Assembly) – indicates a 100% growth in the sector, making it a sector appealing for foreign investment.

Not only the export numbers of Turkish game developers, but the numbers of the Turkish market in 2018 also reveal a lucrative business. The total number of gamers in Turkey is 32.8 million, which constitutes a concrete amount of the population, and the total market revenues are almost $815 million, making it one of the top 20 countries in the digital game sector around the globe. The number of game developing companies is around 60 and the total export of these accounts to $420 million.

The total number of gamers in Turkey is 32.8 million, which constitutes a concrete amount of the population, and the total market revenues are almost $815 million, making it one of the top 20 countries in the digital game sector around the globe.

85% of console gamers in Turkey are men, while 51% of mobile gamers are women. Turkey is also one of the leading countries in consumption time of mobile games per person, with 42.4 minutes.

The age group that spends the most time on games is between 12 and 30. The number of players in 2020 is expected to be over 50 million, while reaching almost $2 billion in total revenues.

Interest in the gaming sector has been quite positive since 2018. The annually organized Gaming Istanbul exhibition, organized by TOBB (The Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchange) – with the participation of sector partners, provided support to the sector last year by giving free booths to game developers with less than 50 thousand TL in order to promote their original content.

The 2019 Gaming Istanbul exhibition took place last weekend, with the participation of over 100 sector companies, both Turkish and international game studios and distributors, game console producers, mobile game producers, game developers and designers, academic institutions, conventional and interactive media organizations, technology store chains, toy producers, software developers and sector professionals, including sector pioneers such as Play Station and Epic Games.

There are 5 Turkish games in top 10 mobile games around the globe and the foreign investment in Turkish mobile game developers is increasing every year. In addition to mobile games, there are almost 30 Turkish games – developed by Turkish companies – in the top 100 PC games.

Although Italian, Spanish, and particularly Indian game developers have significant revenue numbers as well as promotional activities in the global market, Turkey can be described as one of the rising stars of the sector. There are currently 5 Turkish games in top 10 mobile games around the globe and the foreign investment in Turkish mobile game developers is increasing every year. In addition to mobile games, there are almost 30 Turkish games – developed by Turkish companies – in the top 100 PC games.

Another advantage of the Turkish gaming sector is the rapid development of E-Sports. E-Sports has the same logic of ‘competition’ as conventional sports, but the competition takes place via video games. Since 2010, E-Sports has been a significant factor shaping the sector and the International Olympic Committee, which has been working to include E-Sports into future Olympic Games.

Speaking to The New Turkey, Alper Afsin Ozdemir, founding President of the Turkish E-Sports Federation, stated that the turning point for Turkish E-Sports in the sector was the establishment of the federation in 2018. Ozdemir highlighted that the number of people aware of E-Sports in Turkey is around 32 million, and out of this, over 4 million are following E-Sports as fans. There are more than 15 thousand amateur E-Sports teams and the number of players in these teams are over 60 thousand. Out of the total number of E-Sports players in Turkey, 56% are male and 44% are female.

E-Sports is officially recognized in Turkey and players can get official ‘player license’ in order to become professionals. Currently, sports clubs like Fenerbahce, Galatasaray, Besiktas, Basaksehir and Bursaspor all have E-Sports teams.  

Ozdemir emphasized that with the establishment of the federation, E-Sports is officially recognized by the state and that players can get official ‘player license’ in order to become professionals. He added that a Turkish club has been the first professional club to invest to E-Sports in the world, and this was followed by other clubs in Turkey. Currently, sports clubs like Fenerbahce, Galatasaray, Besiktas, Basaksehir and Bursaspor all have E-Sports teams.  

Currently, the total number of E-Sports audience is 380 million in the world (215 million occasional viewers - 165 million e-sports enthusiasts) and the number is expected to increase to 557 million by 2021. The total number of revenues in 2018 was 1.6 billion (media rights, advertisement, sponsorship, merchandise and tickets, game publisher fees), and the number is expected to increase to 3 billion by 2021.

The total number of game players around the world is 2.3 billion; this number is expected to be more than 3 billion by 2020. The total revenue in the world is 134.9 billion USD and this number is expected to increase to 160.5 billion USD by 2020.