Turkey’s Peak Games raises $5M for social gaming

Dean Takahashi

Turkish game publisher Peak Games has raised $5 million to make social games for emerging markets.

The deal shows that investors are looking beyond established markets to emerging countries where social games are still catching on. Peak Games, which has more than 10 million monthly active users on Facebook, is targeting its games at Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa.

Earlybird Venture Capital, an early-stage venture capital firm in Europe, made the investment in the company, which is based in Istanbul and has offices in San Francisco.

Sidar Sahin, chief executive of the company, said in an interview that the company hopes to expand its roster of social games into markets such as Brazil and the broader Middle East region.

“We believe the next big Facebook games will come from an emerging market,” Sahin said.

While other companies try a one-size-fits-all approach for international markets, Peak Games focuses on making local versions of games that are culturally relevant to the people in the region. That’s key to getting a higher monetization than normal for an emerging market, said Rina Onur, co-founder and chief strategy officer.

Michael Pachter, analyst for Wedbush Morgan, said that Peak Games shows that the social gaming market is a global one and that it may already own a leadership position in markets such as Turkey and the Middle East and North Africa.

Sahin founded the company in October, 2010, and it already has 50 employees and 10 games. The company has 10 million monthly active users playing traditional Turkish and Arabic card and board games on Facebook.

Onur said that the company’s method is to understand its audience and make games directly for them. She noted that Turkey is the fourth-largest market for Facebook, with more than 28 million users. The number of Facebook users in the broader region grew 78 percent from a year ago.The company says it can reach as many as 56 million Facebook users now and expects that to grow to 250 million by 2015.

Previously, Peak Games raised $2.5 million from Hummingbird Ventures and serial business angels Evren Ucok and Demet Mutlu, bringing the total amount Peak Games has raised to $7.5 million in six months.

On a daily basis, 2 million people play the company’s games across five time zones, four continents, and five languages. The titles include Okey, Okey Plus, Poker Star, Komşu Şehir, Komşu Kabile, İkon Kız (FabGirl), Bizim Dünya, Komşu Çiftlik and Petiler. Okey, a card-based game, has more than 4.5 million monthly active users.

The company developers its own games and has also partnered with several leading social game developers in the West, including The Broth and MagnetJoy.

Rivals include Zynga, Disney-Playdom and EA-Playfish, as well regional rivals such as Brazil-focused firms such as Mentez and Vostu.

We’ll be exploring the most disruptive game technologies and business models at our third annual GamesBeat 2011conference, on July 12-13 at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. It will focus on the disruptive trends in the mobile games market. GamesBeat is co-located with our MobileBeat 2011conference this year. To register, click on this link. Sponsors can message us atsponsors@venturebeat.com. To pitch a startup at the Who’s Got Game contest at GamesBeat 2011, click here.

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