PlayPhone is announcing today that it has teamed up with mobile carrier Mobily in Saudi Arabia to take mobile games to the Middle East.

The deal shows that companies are recognizing that huge penetration of smartphones in the region and the vast wealth that enables many of those smartphone owners to pay. Smartphone adoption is growing exponentially in the Middle East.

PlayPhone has created a mobile-social game platform with services that help consumers find games and developers get discovered. It has leaderboards, friend lists, achievements, game sharing, and other features that are accessible with one tap on a mobile device. PlayPhone says it reaches a billion users worldwide.

It has won over a lot of carriers with millions of users in places like the U.S., China, and Brazil. Mobily is the leading mobile carrier in Saudi Arabia, and it has more than 200 million mobile subscribers. Mobily will call its store PlayZone, and it will make it available in the Middle East and  North Africa, starting with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. More countries will roll out in the future.

“This is a big task for us and really good news,” said Anders Evju, chief marketing officer at San Mateo, Calif.-based PlayPhone. “There’s a market there. There are smartphones there, and a huge ability to pay.”


Mobile developer or publisher?
Learn how the most successful developers get better users for less money.


Rivals include mobile carriers that create their own stores for games. And the Google Play store is present on Android devices in the Middle East, but PlayPhone is focused only on games, and it has been refining its platform for some time.

In Saudi Arabia, 67 percent of the population 16 and up has a smartphone, while the figure is 85 percent among United Arab Emirates users, according to Nielsen.

“Mobily is thrilled to partner with PlayPhone to bring an unparalleled mobile social gaming experience to Middle Eastern gamers” said Khalid Al Kaf, CEO of Mobily, in a statement. “We are constantly looking for ways to enhance our customer experience, so offering the world’s most popular games with never-before social features to an already social-engaged user base. We are equally excited to offer regional game developers a never-before unified access to 1 billion+ smart phones worldwide to distribute and monetize their games through PlayZone ecosystem”