Sci & Tech

Online, Mobile Gaming Trailblazing in Iran

Online, Mobile Gaming  Trailblazing in IranOnline, Mobile Gaming  Trailblazing in Iran

With nearly 80 million people in Iran and a huge Internet community waiting to be pounced upon, lack of data posed a problem to analysts and planners, up until now.

Previously, western data gathering centers, with their lack of direct access to reliable data sources, often had to make do with estimates and guesses. For example, Newzoo, a global market research and predictive analytics firm with a primary focus on games, normally provides 100% correct revenue projections for various countries but for Iran, where the percentage of information correctness is around 60-70%.

According to officials from Iran’s Supreme Council of Cyberspace, Iran has 25 million gamers. Of these, they say 2.5 million are expert gamers interested in playing PC and console games.

Windows on the PC is the number one operating system. At 98.5%, the most popular versions of Windows are Windows XP and Windows 7, according to Newzoo data.

   No Revenues for PC Products

With most PC platform products being copies, there is no meaningful turnover, according to Wamda.

For the last generation of consoles (Xbox 360–PS3), there would not be a turnover at all for product owners because they have been cracked easily by hackers. The only way to have impressive game revenue in the PC-console market is to concentrate on game console hardware sales, accessories and the latest, the "eighth-generation" of consoles games (Xbox one-PS4).

Mobile and online client games markets are a different matter though. They have a good chance at appropriate game revenue, because they lack copyright concerns and are F2P (free-to-play).

For example, some sources claim more than 8.5 million people play "Clash of Clans" in Iran, despite the fact that the game’s developer, Supercell, does not have a representative in Iran. However, it recently announced plans to add local payment options.

Previously, without access to Visa or MasterCard, users inside Iran were unable to buy "gems" for the game. These are what players use to boost and speed up the building process in "Clash of Clans". To bypass this, players would buy credits from a third-party website for the in-app purchases.

Supercell and Café Bazaar formed a partnership making it possible for "gems" to be bought inside the country. This means that when developers or app stores are collecting data on users, Iranians won’t even register.

Popular F2P mobile games and online games markets are a different matter though. They have a good chance at appropriate game revenue and copyright because most of them are F2P (free-to-play).

For example, more than 8.5 million people play "Clash of Clans" in Iran, despite the fact that the game’s developer, Supercell, has only just officially entered the country, according to TechRasa.

  Most Popular Games

Currently, the most popular games in Iran in no specific order are the FIFA series games, PES; Call of Duty and Assassin Creed, both first person shooters, and Prince of Persia, which is a role-playing game.

In the absence of major app store websites, local companies have filled the vacuum.

Iran is one of the few countries where there are domestic equivalents to the international market leaders. There are about 10 online stores in Iran, but the four most popular are Café Bazaar, Plazza, Myket, and IranApps.

Their annual reports for 2015 show total sales amounted to $40 million, most of which is made on products with in-app purchases. This includes application sales that are set to increase by 15% in 2016.

Some gamers who are more au fait with the net like to use VPNs (virtual private networks) to access international game stores, despite the fact that the number of Iranian equivalents has grown massively in the last few years.

  Finances of Gaming

When it comes to the money, that's where foreign game manufacturing companies hit a brick wall in Iran. They need to find a simple and efficient way to process payments. This is difficult.

Due to sanctions, Iran faced problems when connecting to the global financial network. Most people inside the country have no access to MasterCard, Visa Card, or the PayPal system at all. Rather, the unique mode is a local payment system called Shetab.

The online payment portal used on all Iranian sites is Shaparak. It means every person who has a debit card from any bank could pay online.

When it comes to online transactions, foreign companies face problems in adopting online payment system because it needs to get an approval from the Ministry of Industries.

The procedure for getting official recognition to join Iran's online transaction system usually takes at least 60 days. The system, from, provides you wi th a "trust" logo.

When it comes to language, most available games are in English. This poses a problem, as you can see a big difference between localized games and English games, largely because most Iranian players are not English speakers.  

Given the fact that there are 23 million gamers both on mobile and PC, companies must add the Persian language to gaming options now.  

Farsi, Iran’s official language, is the language widely used in West and Central Asia and spoken in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

  A Sophisticated Market

If you want to get into this market and be successful, you have to be patient.

There are Islamic regulations. This means that all artistic, cultural and entertainment products must observe these regulations.

For example, games containing immoral and unethical aspects and disrespecting Islamic and national sensibilities are considered inappropriate and rejected outright.

In support of IT service developers, the government policy is not to charge for online accounts, so currently online transactions are not taxed.