Gaming in Pakistan: An Insider’s Perspective

by

It’s Not All Flowers and Candy

You might’ve heard about Pakistan because of its current affairs. And those, frankly, aren’t all that good. The currency (Rupee) is falling rapidly and our once-growing economy is melting like ice. Yet you must be wondering “how does a country like Pakistan have any place in a gaming discussion?” Well, it looks like it does, since a gamer in Pakistan is saving a ton more money than you guys.



PlayStation 2’s are still vastly outselling other consoles in Pakistan. If you go into a DVD/Video shop here, you may not find always find an Xbox or PlayStation 3 title, but you definitely sure to find hundreds of PlayStation 2 games. And all of them for just $1. You heard me right.

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Pirated games at a video shop.

You may have guessed the trick by now; piracy. But piracy is to be expected from a failed state like Pakistan. For the price of a brand-new Call of Duty game in the States, you can buy a second-hand modded PlayStation 2 here, so why not just buy the $1 CoD disk? However, the main reason why PlayStation 2’s still sell so many units is because an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 are too complicated for a normal Pakistani to use or mod. And they have been made complicated by the manufacturers to fight piracy. But if there are no pirated games available, no one will buy the console since they don’t know the difference between a pirated game or an original; only by cost.

Xbox 360’s outnumber the PlayStation 3’s over 2 to 1 in Pakistan. The main reason is that the PlayStation 3′s blu-ray drive media and technology have made it impossible to create cheap, pirated games for it; so it flopped. People didn’t know the alternative of downloading an ISO, and since most gamers here are casual twelve year olds, it makes sense. An Xbox, on the other hand, is both cheaper and its $1 game backups are everywhere, so why not just grab that? Even now, I can get ten games for an Xbox 360 for around ten bucks down the street.

There are very few people here who actually buy original games, and those who do are spoiled rich brats. It is because most people here earn just enough in a year to buy the Assassin’s Creed series, so of course it isn’t even an option to buy a legitimate copy brand new.

The Xbox One and the PS4 flopping hard in Pakistan. There is no hope for pirated disks on either of the two consoles, so no one is going to buy them, except the aforementioned spoiled brats. There are no “hardcore” gamers over here, and people who buy a PlayStation 3 just to play Injustice: Gods Among Us might as well just get the iOS versions. Another reason how the smart phone industry is destroying the console market in Pakistan.

Only cheap games can motivate people into buying originals, but there is no hope in that dream becoming a reality since $15 is the average game price in the market. However, there was a game made a couple of years ago by a local company, Mindstorm Studios. As expected, it was a cricket game, named Cricket Revolution. It didn’t quite get the publicity it needed, but it had a price tag of $2.99 and is still on Steam. Cricket Revolution did manage to sell a lot of copies in Pakistan, even though it was barely heard of.

Now, if you are a gamer than Pakistan, your life jumps between both Heaven and Hell. On the up side, you can buy sixty games here, completely legal mind you, for the price of a legitimate version of Call of Duty: Ghosts anywhere else. However, to find an original disk, you will have to search far and wide, and even in mega- store/market, there are usually only six or seven PlayStation 3 titles.



If you’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting Pakistan, you will see that in all stores that sell consoles, the salesman will be advising their costumers to never buy a new generation console or a PlayStation 3, simply because it would be like buying a car without gas. At the same time, you’ll see the salesman inserting a game ISO into your PSP for just a buck, and the authorities won’t even bat an eye.

Overall, the Xbox 360 will remain the favorite for the 6th largest country in the world, and Microsoft and Sony will have to allow piracy to find a market, or at least legitimately lower the cost of games here. By a LOT. Or even, perhaps, if a local industry/manufacturing process is set up, both of these companies can get millions of new customers. Meanwhile, we’ll all just switch to the PC as usual. Might as well.

* The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect SpawnFirst as a whole.