Turkey: A Profile of the Gaming and Esports Market

Our mission at Intergalactic Gaming is to build a social competitive gaming community that ensures all gamers and teams are fairly rewarded for participation and performance.

To do so, we must gauge a better understanding of the nature, perception, and provisions for competitive gaming and esports by country — or by region at least. The nature of competitive gaming is heavily fragmented and therefore varies across the globe; our passion for gaming, however is what unites us all.

Our first focus back in April was Denmark. How have Denmark established an infrastructure where they have allowed their young casual and professional gamers to thrive? To get a better understanding of Denmark’s competitive gaming scene, follow the link below!

As beautiful as the country is, Turkey, and some of its surrounding countries have seen many years of social unrest, which has been destabilising to overall growth. Generally speaking this brings with it questions regarding political, social and financial long-term sustainability. For both perspective and focus, the views expressed in this article will remain objective and bound to the growth of competitive gaming and esports; we are not financial or political experts.

The sole purpose here will be to shed a positive light on Turkey’s gaming scene. We will discuss the overall progress of the Turkish esports market, demonstrating how Turkey, with an average age of under 30 years old, and projected esports audience of 15 million, can holistically benefit from competitive gaming. We will conclude with an overview of how our current presence in Turkey will feed into achieving our overarching mission.

Turkey’s Gaming Scene: A Brief Overview

When the esports scene was taking off in Turkey, players experienced many challenges extending beyond that of traditional social stereotypes commonly faced. Poor internet connectivity, extremely low prize pools and scarcity of players and teams were prevailing barriers to regular competition.

The early-to-mid 2000’s was a crucial point in terms of establishing Turkey’s intent to storm the esports industry. A proliferation of internet and game cafés would provide access to computers for many, which naturally saw the formation of gaming communities spring across Turkey. We must acknowledge how influential these were to establishing niche, close-knit communities dedicated to improving the future of competitive gaming in Turkey.

In recent years, the huge spike in Turkey’s gaming and esports industry is evidently synonymous with general improvements with the accessibility and maintenance of internet services; gaming is far more accessible nowadays, too. Whilst Turkey’s competitive gaming and esports scene has drastically evolved, greater financial stability for players, teams and organisations will be greatly advantageous for closing the gap on their counterparts.

The Stats Don’t Lie: Turkey’s Gaming Market

Turkey’s population of 83 million has an average age less than 30 years old; very young in comparison to other countries. Turkey also boasts a total of 34 million regular players, which is suggestive of the strong network and keen engagement that has remained preceding traditional game cafés, as well as the issues explored earlier on. With such a young population, there is huge potential for esports to thrive in Turkey; what’s more, the demand is clearly there.

Newzoo, Newzoo Global Esports Market Report February 2019, “Global Esports Market Data | Top 50 Countries or Markets by Esports Enthusiasts | 2019”, 2019.

The global esports market is still very nascent, and with mobile gaming recently making its grandiose entrance, it has exponentially expanded both the gaming and esports markets. The nature of mobile games, in particular, lends itself to Turkey’s younger demographic, and considering Turkey’s inherent passion for gaming, it is not surprising mobile gaming has become so popular.

Gaming Agency and Esports Agency, Turkey Game Market Report 2018 (Lite Version), Slide 18, [https://www.slideshare.net/GaminginTurkey/turkey-game-market-report-2018-gaming-in-turkey-gaming-and-esports-agency], 7 March 2019.

According to the data above, a large portion of Turkey’s population (approximately 50 million people) have access to smartphones. So, considering Turkey’s inherent passion for gaming, Turkey’s Gaming Market Report paints an optimistic future for the Turkish mobile esports industry. Additionally, with the introduction of a 5G network service that will radically transform internet capabilities, investing in Turkey’s mobile esports scene promises to be an extremely valuable return of investment.

How has Turkey committed to supporting the transition from casual to professional gaming?

On 24 April, Turkey’s Ministry of Youth and Sports announced the establishment of their very first Esports Federation. The Turkish Esports Federation essentially aims to be at the centre of Turkey’s rapidly growing esports ecosystem, acting as a regulatory body to ensure esports’ continued growth. Esports is hugely popular in Turkey; according to a report by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the nation has ~15,000 grassroots teams across the country evidencing the country’s potential.

Directed government resources towards the formalisation of esports is arguably a fundamental cornerstone of providing a solid and successful esports framework. China, South Korea, and the USA, albeit at state levels, have already done so, which would offer a suggestion as to why these countries have such huge success within esports. Notwithstanding, whilst Turkey’s esports culture rose to prominence a lot later than the likes of China, South Korea, USA and parts of Western Europe, but that has not stopped them becoming one of the few leading nations driving the institutionalisation of esports.

The link below is an interview regarding theTurkish Esports Federation with Chairman Alper Afşin Özdemir.

Maximising Exposure: Sporting Entities, Sponsorships and Viewership

For clarity, these will be broken down into three parts; however, there is overlap between these. Sporting entities and sponsorships can work independently, or in tandem; these two factors also give rise to spectatorship. Likewise, high viewership and fan engagement without a sporting entities, or sponsorships will more often than not, result in the two.

Sporting Entities
Due to the large money that is projected to flow through the esports industry, there have been an ever-increasing number of sports teams fielding rosters. This year, the ePremier League kicked off giving FIFA players the opportunity to represent their chosen Premier League club in the FUT ePL championship. In addition to that, Ferrari have just joined esports meaning that all 10 F1 teams will annually compete in F1 esports — this has seen the prize pool rise to $500,000 this year! These, are just two of the many examples of sporting bodies taking the leap into esports.

Prestigious Turkish football teams 1907 Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray and Beşiktaş J.K, all field their own esports rosters that compete globally. In terms of the development of Turkish esports, sporting teams investing in esports, more often than not, will prove greatly beneficial. As will be explored in ‘Viewership’, established teams bring with them established fanbases: rivalries between these teams, will therefore encourage sustained fan engagement and longevity.

We must also consider that esports is far more than playing games. A strong argument in favour of why esports and some teams struggle to attract outside investment is due to the fact that the industry is very young. These young players are then expected to enter contractual agreements, manage finances and forecast their revenue and expenses; this is difficult, especially for those with no prior business experience. Sporting establishments that form esports teams therefore aid the scene as they possess the resources to ensure right personnel are managing the relevant areas that go beyond gaming.

At this point, it is also worth noting that we have had a Besiktas FIFA player compete in both our our platform development test-tournaments who has only great things to say about our platform!

Sponsorships: Brands and Revenue Sharing
Naturally, notable sports teams that enter the esports scene bring with them the potential for huge sponsorship. Take Turkish football club Beşiktaş J.K for example; their football stadium the Vodafone Park Arena, of course, is sponsored by British multinational phone company Vodafone.

Although Vodafone is not native to Turkey, their huge presence from sponsoring football and esports means that they are able use their global reach to tap into esports fans worldwide! The Vodafone Park Area also has its own designated gaming area. In addition, there are many more game houses in shopping malls and building estates located around Istanbul, subsequently demonstrating the potential opportunities for brand investment.

League of Legends is hugely popular in Turkey. In 2015, Turkcell, another of the country’s leading phone operators, sponsored Turkey’s official League of Legends Champions League, also sponsoring eight of the participating teams. In the build-up to the competition, Turkcell had prepared special promotional packages that were designed to draw engagement towards the event — extremely important when you consider the size of Turkey’s young population and huge mobile market.

With this in mind, Riot Games, themselves, have already heavily invested in Turkey as well; Istanbul is in fact home to one of the company’s 24 offices. Last year, Turkey became the fourth region to agree to Riot Games’ global LoL franchise network (for this year), which means teams can no longer be relegated from the LoL Champions League. In this case, and remembering that the demand for gaming is definitely there, we can see fantastic opportunities for teams to prepare for longevity. Further analysis will suggest that Turkish esports will benefit for the better as teams will be able to establish academies, subsidiary clubs, or “feeders” that will enhance the current scene.

Additionally this year, Riot Games have revamped their revenue sharing incentives meaning it will no longer be exclusive to main events. As of 31 May, beginning with the League of Legends Champions Series (LCS) 2019 Summer Split, Riot Games will offer two new revenue sharing initiatives through Fan Pass and Team Passes. These Fan and Team Passes, which are region specific, will provide a 50% revenue split with the agreed LOL esports leagues or teams, providing support for the duration of each season. Revenue sharing as a source of income has become commonplace for many gaming, esports, and non-endemic entities. With the right network, revenue sharing is an extremely effective tool that can be rich both in tangible value and social engagement.

Another brand driving the esports as a global mainstream entertainment medium is Red Bull. At the beginning of the year, Red Bull TV released a video showcasing the presence of esports in Istanbul as part of their gaming series

As outlined in this section, sponsorships, for the most part, promise the hope to be mutually beneficial; specifically in this case, Red Bull’s global reach provides great exposure to Turkish esports, brands are able to market their products to a large and engaged audience.

Viewership: The Rise of the Spectator
The chances are, those under the age of 16 will recognise gamers, streamers, esports teams or stars over famous actors, politicians and so on. According to an interview in 2018, Ninja, one of the world’s most famous Fortnite streamers, reportedly earned upwards of half a million dollars per month. Game streaming has provided the opportunity to reach audiences unlike ever before, and coupled with our desire for quick, exciting entertainment on-demand would explain why there is so much money in viewership.

The data published above presents Turkey’s esports viewership figures. In five years, we can see that the total esports audience will nearly double. This year, the esports audience is expected to rise to 11.1 million, with occasional viewers growing more than the esports enthusiasts.

Gaming: A Vehicle for Holistic Improvement?

As per the objective of this article, we have deconstructed the ways in which Turkey’s esports scene has flourished. Turkey have undeniably set the groundwork to really capitalise on the industry’s projected growth. However, there is the opportunity for competitive gaming (either casually or professionally) to completely revitalise the country on a holistic level, granting the opportunity for an innovative and prosperous future for Turkey’s next generation.

So firstly, stability. We have already discussed the importance of established teams providing formalised hierarchical structures that ensure both responsibility and accountability, and therefore, structure and longevity. Yet, considering the state of the initial landscape, the underlying social-economic instability, a lot more investment will be required to keep up with the likes of China, South Korea and the United States, and for general sustainability.

On 19 January this year, Europe’s biggest esports venue, the Ulker Arena with a 12,000 seat capacity, opened in Istanbul’s Ataşehir district. This, Beşiktaş’ Vodafone Park Arena, Riot Games’ esports stage, and the proliferation of further esports venues opens the door to tourism. When we evaluate how important lucrative tourism for sporting events can be, there is no reason why esports could not replicate this. Turkey have shown their dedication to competitive gaming and are in the leading pack in terms of esports; they have a real opportunity to establish themselves as the true hub of global esports.

In terms of social stability, we have outlined that gaming is far more than the outdated perception: socially inept angry kids, “who need to get out more” just sitting in a basement playing games for hours on end. Increased support to game, specifically mobile, developers alongside the opportunity for non-endemic and executive roles means that gaming itself provides much more of an opportunity. On a global sense, thanks to the internet, the world is getting much smaller, with more and more of us possessing the ability to work remotely. Here, through driving esports, we will see the opportunity to get large volumes of young people in employment earlier.

If Turkey continue to drive esports, technological advancements within the gaming industry will also increase the potential improving Turkey’s existing infrastructure. Cloud-based gaming service, Google Stadia, will see significant upgrades to the country’s internet and gaming capabilities, which again will place them in a much stronger position to compete globally. With that said, Turkey are making great strides for attracting outside investment, meaning we could soon see evidence of the overarching benefits gaming and esports has on the development of countries.

The Importance of IG’s Presence in Turkey

Which brings us on to IG’s relevance in all of this. Many of you know that we are currently partnered with Turkish grassroots esports organisation, Sangal Esports. Primarily, this partnership has provided us with an entrance into Turkey’s raw competitive grassroots gaming scene, where we can begin to spread our proposed Intergalactic vision. The majority of our partners are new to the blockchain and crypto space, which provides us with a duty of responsibility to uphold our agreement to support their transition to the digital age. Beyond that, namely our personal motivations, we are dedicated to driving the education, reward and passion for gaming to change the world for the better.

On New Years Eve, Sangal published a call to arms, in the form of a community development plan, to the IG x TRON community to raise support for their expansion into PUBG. Sangal were able to raise the full $5,000 they needed, which has seen Sangal’s PUBG team compete in a greater number of tournaments, providing great exposure for IG x TRON. More importantly, it serves to evidence the solidarity and passion for gaming shared amongst the IG ecosystem.

In terms of providing a new value for Sangal, a tokenised model allows them to provide a new and unique value proposition for their community. As has been referred to, financial instabilities with the Turkish Lira should would be less detrimental for Sangal through their adoption of crypto. Not only this, but the use of crypto allows for value to be exchanged anywhere in the world almost instantaneously.

To keep up to date with developments, please follow us on our various social media channels:

Website: www.iggalaxy.com
Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/igg_esports
Discord: https://discord.gg/5kx4tKR
Reddit: https://old.reddit.com/user/Intergalactic_Gaming
Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/IG_Galaxy
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IGGalaxy/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/intergalactic_gaming/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/intergalactic-gaming
Medium: https://medium.com/@info_91865
Telegram: https://t.me/IGG_Official

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