The MEA is in chaos now. Let’s talk about how the chaos would work on the local game industry.?This interview is done with Muhamed Said, the CEO of 2M.Net of Egypt.
1. 2M.Net is an unfamiliar company to Korea. Please introduce yourself to us. Specifically what business do you run?
2mdotnet is founded in 2007 as a distributor for online games, via our established reseller network and our offices which are located in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UEA, and Kuwait.
Moreover, 2mdotnet is providing our partners with full details about our local market and helping them to achieve higher market share. In other hand, we are offering a localization service for game publishers and that is by our professional gamers translators.
As I mentioned above, 2MDotNet not working currently as publisher, we just focus to build our market very well and doing our best to learn the Arabian player about MMO games and other kind of online game in all MEA region then the Arabian player will have a good knowledge about the games and what is the different between every game
2. How did you make connections with Korean companies?
On October 2007 2MDotNet got its first distributing agreement with Joymax Ltd., it was our first challenge for new industry which we were not familiar with, and I shall express my deep and sincere appreciation to Joymax whom were very helpful and cooperated with us to understand and start this kind of business,
So, through our various visits to the international exhibitions such as (G-Star, GamesCom, … etc) and through our past experience which gave us the reputation in the field we are now connected with the most known companies in Korea, China, Europe and USA, searching the best opportunities available and best quality can be provided to our customers.
3. We would like to know the gaming environment in Egypt such as internet population, ISP, average internet speed, average PC specs, internet fee, and size of the internet cafes.
As a matter of fact, I have to clarify that there is no official researches which can explain the gaming environment in Egypt which explain about the game trends or gamers attitude, and that’s why we are always depending on ourselves to conduct our own researches and surveys which enabled us to understand the current situation of our markets, the following points may explain some about the gaming environment, such as:
- The internet population in Egypt in 2010 up to last governmental reports its hit 22.95 mil user in November 2010 compare with November 2009 was 16.62 mil (annual growth rate 38.88%.)
- There is many ISP working in Egypt which creating a hard competition reflecting on high quality services to the end users with reasonable prices, the most common connection cost about 16 USD monthly, and that was very helpful and effective to increase the internet users rapidly.
- The average speed is 1 MGB for just 16 USD monthly with unlimited download while 1 Mps is the most common between Home users, most of PC caf?s try to give better connections to attract more customers so they are using 2 Mps or 4 Mps connections.
- The PC caf?s in Egypt are vary also between small and medium size, as most of PC caf?s containing average of 10 ~ 20 PCs, and some others containing average of 40 PCs, and very limited number of PC Caf?s may containing more than 40 PCs.
4. What is the most popular game in the MEA?
In Egypt the most popular Game is SilkroadOnline as MMORPG game Client but if we talking about another kind of game such as web browser games, for sure it will be Zinga games through the Facebook and then Trevian and so on. But in Gulf Area, you will find that World of War Craft As MMORPG game client is much popular.
5. What is the most popular game of yours? Can you tell us the details about it like CCU(concurrent user) or revenue? Which payment methods did you adopt?
Again we are not game developers or publishers yet, the information we have now are related with our partners and we are not able to disclose about it without their permissions, but we can ensure that we have a huge numbers of users whom are interested in our services.
As for payment methods, we are on continued researches to find out the best payment modules which can add simplicity, easiness and make us reachable by our customers, we already provide wide range of payment methods to satisfy our customers all over the region.
6. Which payment method is being used the most?
Physical prepaid charging cards coming on the top of our list of payments, as it’s the most common way of payment known for our end users, also we developed these cards many times to reach the best quality and secure materials can be trusted and accepted by the customers.
On the other hand, currently we are studying to develop our own Game Wallet which may provide many games services, hope this service could be launched soon.
7. What is the most challenging point for running business in the MEA?
Well, the most challenging point for running such business in MEA, we have to be very aware about the traditions, values, and culture of our market. For example, the words and sentences and even characters customs that prohibited in Islamic religion.
The second challenging point is the customer relation management, which is the key for success.
Last but not least, the payment method is vitally important issue. We have to consider it and find a multiple payment solution for our customer because the Arabian gamers are not familiar and not trusting in using credit cards online.
8. What elements are needed in order to succeed launching online games in the MEA?
The essence to succeed in lunching your game is first to know and to have a very good knowledge of your game. In other hand to know which market segment you are targeting (Gender, age, class) here the innovation of reaching our customer in vitally important to attract and keep new gamers, for that you will need a local partner who have a very good market experience to help you to reach your segment target. The Secondly, you got to be care about their traditions and values of your targeted customer. Third point is localization of the game, gives you more target spectrum.
9. I found 2M.Net is sponsoring GNGWC. How is the e-sports doing in the MEA? Do gamers like it?
2MDotNet is sponsor the GNGWC since 2008 till now for just silkroadonline only because we like to give our Egyptian customers chance to compete with their friends in the game over the world and this way push us to thinking to have an big competition for all online gamers in many games and held it in Cairo, and about the e-sport games it’s very popular in MEA region and the first type is soccer Sport such as FIFA and Winning Eleven.
10. Today’s situation of the MEA is dramatically changing. Egypt has succeeded changing the government under supports from the world. Would the change affect the local game industry in any ways?
First of all, I would like to point out something very important, is that the Egyptians through an epic historical revolution to ensure to the whole world that Egyptians are able to change their destiny by obtain freedom and political rights, but without any damage to the safety of their country or its facilities, they form a scene that the world has never seen before while they protect the security of their homeland, but they considered as the only rebels who rebelled? and after achieving their goals, they back to clean the place of their revolutions, and that’s all happened with full moral & emotional support ONLY from the whole world.
What is happening now by political events in many countries of the MEA underscores the extent desire to which these peoples to self-determination and the desire to build democratic societies allow intellectual pluralism and reinforce the principles of freedom and social justice.
As it is known also, that democracy always accompanied by economic and scientific activity of the community, therefore, what is happening now in MEA will have a considerable positive impact on the local game industry, the expected economic activity will enhance the capacity of citizens to allocate more funds for entertainment and enjoyment, the scientific and technical activity expected would increase the number of Internet users, as well as competencies and thus create new generations of users or qualified personnel.
The coming days will locate Egypt as the main hub for gaming industry all over MEA region, with its unique location, democratic basics, Scientific and technical advancement, growing economy and its population of 85 mil, I believe all of these will make Egypt lead the gaming industry in MEA for the next years.
11. I heard the internet was disconnected during the revolution. Can you tell us more about the situation? How did you manage the games you publish? Please describe it precisely.
The previous regimes had many means to suppress freedoms and impose controls on political activists, one of these means are Internet control policies through cancellation or prosecute those people blogging on social networking sites, starting of 28th of Jan. 2010, almost all of Egypt was without internet or mobile services, this last for about 4 days till the internet services back to work normally on 2nd of Feb. with full absence of monitoring and control, as the revolution was controlling and regulatory and security authorities did not have any active role in the meantime.
As for our business, again we are not publishers so the games we are serving was running normally without any kind of problems, our sales stopped through the revolution for about 24 days and then we back to work normally.
Picture from Wikipedia
12. In restriction or support aspect, how you foresee the changes in Egyptian game industry later on?
That is not yet clear First we was have to monitor the market changes very well and go in deep with the internet caf? because, home user is already have a lot of time at home now and also no problem for him to play, that is because the government make delay on school back so that helped well to make all of them searching about games or back to play them games, and about internet caf? it’s back to work not prefect like before but they working now stable and fine and we also keep monitor the market.
The problem with the price of the games cards because the exchange rate for USD
13. As to the changes you said to the question 13, how should Korean companies do?
As we have stated that there was an unexpected economic and scientific Renaissance occurred soon on Egypt, this is an opportunity for all companies in all fields of business to come and invest in Egypt, for gaming industry, Korean companies recently come on top of the list of global companies operating in this field, great opportunities and very promising for investors whom are able to take investment decisions in similar times.
For Korean company they have big chance to enter all MEA countries through Egypt and then expand to another countries so any Korean company want to start in Egypt just put your plan and start don’t worry about anything Egypt will going to be better and better so it’s chance to any company to success in Egypt now. Be noticed that our political revolution came first or started from facebook, that is means that online user will increasing in the near future which will be a very good chance to have new customers.
14. How do you foresee the future game industry in the MEA? What changes would be made after the democracy movement?
As democracy expected to affect the economical and scientific situation of Egypt it will also affect the people customs and behaviors, and this would lead to more openness and reduce some community restrictions that might impede marketing some games, the spread of democracy to this intellectual pluralism would help to reduce or abolish numerous laws in some countries that do not allow the exercise of many games that carry values alien to the traditions and customs of Arab and Islamic societies
15. Please tell anything for Korean companies.
Well, I would like to say to them its time , and it’s a profitable opportunity to invest in the MEA because MEA have many essential resources such as low cost labor, and also is that the major percentage of the MEA population is youth, which is their target customer. Off course Egypt is the hub of all Arabian countries and to make Egypt as a start of their business is a step ahead for success. In other hand we are as 2mdotnet appreciated and welcome any Korean organization need any help or information about our region.
Again I am very great full to have this interview with you, and happy birthday.