Tips for engaging players during this special month
Developers from around the world have found that during Ramadan they see an increase in activity from people in the many countries where the holy month is observed. This provides a significant opportunity to reinforce or increase engagement, uplift monetization, and enhance a game’s success.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It’s observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection, and engaging with the community. As the Muslim calendar is lunar, the dates of Ramadan in the Western calendar vary. This year Ramadan starts on April 2 and finishes on May 1. The end of Ramadan is marked on May 2 by Eid al-Fitr, a national holiday in 19 countries.
In 2021, according to World Population Review, some 1.9 billion people were followers of Islam, meaning that approximately 24% of the world’s population observed Ramadan. Most Muslims live in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Indonesia, for example, is the world’s largest Muslim country and home to 13% of all Muslims.
How games are affected
During Ramadan, people abstain from food and drink from dawn to sunset to cleanse the soul and practice self-restraint and control. They also stay at home more and work less, meaning they often have more free time. This behavior results in higher digital activity in many countries, often focusing on games. For example, according to eMarketer, 44% of Indonesians choose online gaming as their preferred digital activity in the first week of Ramadan.
The market is also significant. According to Newzoo in 2021, Islamic Asian & Middle Eastern countries (ID/MY/PK/BD/SA/TR/UAE/EG) generated $4.32 billion in mobile revenue and had about 300 million mobile players.
On Google Play we have seen a 20% YoY growth in people who spend on games in the Middle East, Africa and SouthEast Asia. When we look at the effect of Ramadan (2021) we see that compared to the 31 days before Ramadan games show a:
- 18% MoM growth in new paying users (NPUs).
- 12% MoM growth in games revenue.
We also highlighted the Ramadan effect in the different sub-regions for the past two years. In 2020, we noticed a higher growth, which is expected due to COVID-19 lockdowns.
In Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, and Pakistan during Ramadan:
- Spending grew by nearly 7% in 2021 and 30% in 2020.
- New Paying Users grew by 17% in 2021 and 51% in 2020.
- Purchases grew by 12% in 2021 and 45% in 2020.
In Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar during Ramadan:
- Spending grew by 14% in 2021 and 26% in 2020.
- Purchases grew by 9% in 2021 and 26% in 2020.
Therefore, looking for ways to engage with players from the Muslim world during Ramadan has the potential to reap rewards.
Ways to engage players
Optimizing your player engagement during Ramadan starts with getting the basics right. Then look for ways to give your players something extra and ensure you’ve got the promotion in place so players know what you’re offering.
Get the basics right
Before you can boost your performance over Ramadan, you need to ensure that players can find your game and use it to its full extent. So:
- Make sure your store listing, game, and LiveOps are localized. In your game, pay attention to the UI, especially for Arabic, as it is written from right to left.
- Localize your pricing. Many of the target players are in markets that monetize well on Google Play — such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Qatar. However, you also have large potential audiences in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Egypt, where the habit of paying for game content is still developing. To convert more users in these markets, consider using Google Play’s Sub Dollar pricing option to offer your players more affordable purchases.
Give players a treat
The best way to engage with players during Ramadan is to offer them something extra during the month. For example:
- Create special offers and sales.
- Offer gifts that celebrate the month of Ramadan, such as unique skins, boosters, and alike.
- Add a Ramadan theme to your game, including new or time-limited characters and content. The theme could include historical figures, localized characters, or items such as clothing and content including special mini-games or levels.
- Offer Ramadan-themed creatives; typical Ramadan motifs include the moon, stars, lanterns, and minarets.
- Allow users to play more without additional payment. This approach encourages players to spend more time in the game and increases the likelihood of new players converting and converting players buying more in-game items.
Enhance your promotion
When you do something special for Ramadan, make sure your audience knows about it. So, in addition to in-game promotion, consider:
- Using your social media channels and videos featuring the new offerings on YouTube to spread the word.
- Consider partnering with local payment partners and carriers. These partners look for special offers they can share with their customers.
- Use push notifications for Ramadan events, particularly for daily events and perks.
Tip: Through all of these activities be mindful that players are fasting during Ramadan, so avoid showing food and beverages.
How other developers found success
Tamatem created an overall look for Ramadan
For Ramadan 2020, Tamatem Inc. adapted Fashion Queen’s environment and promotions to increase engagement and revenue. They changed the game’s icon, Play Store previews, loading screen, background music, outfits, and neighborhood decorations to celebrate Ramadan. They also ran LiveOps for the month that included exclusive Ramadan-themed outfits and events.
These initiatives achieved a 20% increase in average session time per user and a 12% increase in subscription revenues during Ramadan.
“Ramadan is the most anticipated season of the year. We usually expect a 50% revenue increase in our LiveOps promotions and offers during the month and an increase in user engagement. We plan months ahead to ensure the best experience for our users in this special month ,” Dina Rashdan, product manager at Tamatem said.
Rise of Kingdom introduced special Ramadan bundles
In 2020, LilithGames produced a special Ramadan gift bundle in Rise of Kingdoms, and their players loved it.
Following the success in 2020, they created a Ramadan-themed package in 2021 called Stars and Moons. The theme pack contained an Islam Theme Frame, Tome of Knowledge, Dazzling Starlight Sculpture, and other items. The package name and items reinforced the connection to Ramadan. For example, the crescent moon and stars are important symbols in Islam, with the new moon’s crescent signifying the beginning and end of the fasting during Ramadan.
“Ramadan is one of our important seasonal offers. The 2020 Ramadan-themed IAP package brought a 40% increase in a 7-day average billings in Southeast Asia,” the LilithGames operation team said.
Moonton enhanced the festival atmosphere for Ramadan
Moonton localized many of the in-game materials of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang to strengthen the connection between the game and the Middle East community during Ramadan. Updated game elements include:
- Islamic style design elements, such as crescent moons, mosques, and alike.
- Themed designs, including UI and avatar borders.
In 2021, these changes achieved a 15% increase in first-time downloads and a 6% increase in daily active users.
“Satisfying players with in-game cultural elements increases player loyalty and enjoyment. In turn, this helps maintain the healthy long-term operation of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang” — Moonton operation team.
Babil Games goes big during Ramadan
Babil Games prepares diligently for the holy month of Ramadan, as it is the crucial event in the year for MENA LiveOps. For their game, Nida Harb 3: Alliance War, this planning culminates in:
- Special offers.
- Exclusive events, including new weekly awards and daily login gifts.
- Exclusive Ramadan-themed and unique base decoration items.
- Chat decorations.
- Social media engagement posts and marketing creatives.
In 2021, these initiatives resulted in a 48% increase in IAP revenues and a 6% increase in daily active users during Ramadan.
“It has always been our focus to provide the best localized content for our players in MENA. Ramadan gives us the opportunity to take this to the next level with amazing themes and a color palette befitting the holy month,” Hisham Haddad, Babil Games General manager said.
Ramadan provides an excellent opportunity for you to grow your game’s success in the Muslim world. Following the best practices in this guide, you should find more users and improve engagement.
If you would like to find out more, read this post about finding more general information about driving the success of your game: Find success for apps and games in the Middle East and North Africa.
By Nimrod Levy
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