With TGC, Iran’s first international B2B video game convention on its way in July, the Iranian video game market is expected to experience a boost. However, the CEO of Iran Computer and Video Games Foundation believes that Iranian publishers will be left without a competitive advantage.
According to Hassan Karimi Ghodoosi the CEO of (IRCG), Bandwidth developments have led Iranians to play more internet-based games, yet this does not necessarily mean that they have spent the whole time playing Iranian games. He also added that the aim of IRGC is not to force people to play Iranian games, but there is supposed to be a balance between Iranian and non-Iranian games. One of the major goals of the foundation is to put a stop to the excess supply of foreign games. Due to lack of necessary platforms, this could not take place earlier, but by providing the platforms that are needed, it is now possible to give a license to publishers who are looking for distributing foreign games.
The CEO of Iran Computer and Video Games Foundation (IRCG) mentioned, “Foreign games are better in terms of quality when compared with Iranian games which is due to millions of dollars of investments and the experience these countries have on game development.” He added, “These foreign games leave no place for Iranian games in the market since the Iranian games have no advantage over the foreign ones.” Yet, it is counterproductive to block all the foreign games; therefore, the government should consider applying import duties on foreign games to create a competitive advantage for the Iranian games over the foreign ones, Karimi said.
Still, the Iranian video games have the advantage of using Persian as their language, yet, not applying duties on foreign video games is only hindering the way for Iranian game publishers. It is worth mentioning that last year the parliament did not vote for the foundation’s proposal to apply duties on video game’s import.
In Iran, import duties are considered for industries such as agriculture and car making. Still the authorities refuse to apply duties on imported video games even when the money can be used to support the Iranian game industry and provide jobs for the country.
Karimi stated that applying import duties on games would not boost video games smuggling. “Smuggling is increased when people try to use foreign markets like Google Play or App Store as an alternative and pay for games through such markets,” he added. To purchase through these markets in Iran, you have to either hold a debit card or buy gift cards. However, the majority of Iranians have no idea about these solutions or find them too complex.
To get a better grasp on the matter it’s worth noting that earlier this year it was announced that Café Bazaar —the biggest Iranian Android market with 39.9 million active users— has signed a contract with Supercell to make in-app purchases available for Iranian players of Clash of Clans a game with more than 5 Million installs only on Cafe Bazaar. Before that, Iranians had to buy Google Play or App Store gift cards to perform purchases inside the game. The statistics show that since the release of the game, Iranian players have spent nearly 33 million dollars on it.
Purchasing can be made easier by making SHETAB transactions (the Interbank Information Transfer Network in Iran) available for these games so that everyone can make online purchases. In near future for game distributors to sell, they should first be registered in the IRCG’s (Iran Computer and Video Games Foundation) database and after providing their contract with the game publisher, they can get a publishing license.