The digital game production industry might be young in Iran, but the history of gaming goes as far as 40 years ago. The following infographic reviews the most important trends and events of gaming in Iran and forecasts the population of Iranian gamers in the year 2022 (In accordance with the year 1400 in Solar Hijri calendar).


The early generations: The 70s didn’t come to Iran until the 80s!

During the first generations of digital games, Iranians were quite late to adapt to the new technologies. There’s no precise information about the year in which gaming became popular in Iran but in the early 1980s (In accordance with 1360s decade in Solar Hijri calendar), Iranians became familiar with the concept of digital games with TV-Game.

In the 1980’s Iran was going through a critical and historical moment, and at the same time the country was fighting back a war initiated by Iraq. It’s only imaginable that during this time Iranians were struggling with the shortage of basic human needs, so digital games were their least concern.

Gaming consoles such as Atari 2600, Nintendo Famicom and Sega Mega Drive form the second to third generations were all pretty popular in Iran. During the first three generations, the market in Iran had a time delay until a gaming console became widely available and popular among different classes of society. For example, Atari 2600 which was initially released in 1977 became popular in Iran after more than a decade later. Although Sega Mega Drive was also late in the Iranian market, the console was widely available and being sold until late 90s and early 2000s.


The Fifth generation: PlayStation 1 and Game Cafes

In the mid-90s, when Iran’s economy reached a more stable state, gaming consoles became accepted in the Iranian households. Atari, Nintendo and Sega which were once the dominant players, lost their market share with the appearance of Sony’s PlayStation. All the consoles which were sold in Iran had a modchip installed which allowed the user to use pirated games sold with a fraction of the original price. During this time the country also saw a growth of Game Cafes, or Game Clubs, as commonly known in Iran.


The 6th generation: PlayStation still sat on the throne

The popularity of Sony’s PlayStation 1 did not give a chance to other digital game companies like Microsoft and Nintendo to thrive in the Iranian market. In the early 2000s, PlayStation 2 took the market by storm and became widely available in Iranian households and Game Cafes. During the 6th generation, Microsoft’s Xbox and Nintendo’s GameCube were only used by a minority of gamers in the country.


The 7th generation: Xbox 360 dominates the market

Although Microsoft’s first generation of gaming console failed to find its market in Iran, the early release of Xbox 360 and the fact that this console was easily modified helped with its popularity during the 7th generation. Since PlayStation 3 wasn’t able to run pirated games until the later years of the 7th generation, many Iranians for the first time bought original games for their consoles.

During this time, Internet infrastructure was also improved and ADSL became accessible in many households, thus online gaming became popular among the gamers in Iran.


The 8th generation: The ongoing battle between PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Unlike the previous gaming consoles, due to their complex hardware architecture, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One weren’t able to be modified for pirated games. Today Iranians pay around 200 to 300 thousand Tomans (around 70 dollars) for original console games, depending on their availability and release date in the country.

PC gamers

In the recent years, the number of PC gamers in Iran has declined. Easy access to mobile devices and gaming consoles which don’t have the hassle of hardware configuration and also the wider variety of games available on these devices are some the main reasons for this scale down.


When mobile games become more popular than console games

With the wide availability of mobile devices and their cheap prices, along with the improvements of internet infrastructure, mobile gaming and online games over mobile devices have put a shadow over gaming consoles. Iranians which once had late access to new technologies are now known as a tech-savvy society with a thirst for newest gadgets which become available in North America or Europe.

Iran Internet Users - 2016 - TechRasa
Iran Internet Users – 2016


According to DIREC’s research, in 2011, Iran had 16 million gamers (including mobile gamers), of which 14 percent were online gamers. In 2014, the population of gamers in Iran grew by 2 million, but this time 30 percent of them were online gamers. According to this research firm, in 2016, Iran had 23 million gamers, of which 39 percent were playing online games.


42 million gamers in Iran by the year 2022  

It’s estimated that in the year 2022 (In accordance with the year 1400 in Solar Hijri calendar) Iran would have at least 42 million digital gamers. According to DIREC this increase is not necessarily because of the growth of the country’s population but mainly because gaming becomes an acceptable entertainment media for Iranian families.

Currently about 30 percent of Iran’s population are gamers, but this number is estimated to grow to 50 percent in the year 2022. Social games, games for education and health, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality are some of the main reasons for the growth of digital gamers in the upcoming years, as experts have predicted.


What’s happening in Iran right now?

New copyright law

Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, Iran’s Minister of Communications and Technology has recently stated that the copyright law in the country should be revised. A new bill on copyright will soon be presented to the Iranian parliament according to Iran’s ICT Minister. Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi has stated that Iran was not a producer of content and software before, thus some changes should be made in the country’s copyright law now in order to help the software industry.

This could also be a good news for international game developers targeting the Iranian market.


International Game Convention

Tehran Game Convention (TGC), Iran’s first international B2B digital game industry event was held in July 2017 at IRIB international conference center. Publishers from countries such as the Netherlands, Austria, US, Brazil, Canada, United Kingdom, Poland, Jordan, Estonia, Germany and Finland were part of this event.

International conferences like TGC could bring plenty of opportunities for both Iranian and international game developers and publishers.

Tehran Game Convention 2017 - Photo courtesy of IRCG
Tehran Game Convention 2017 – Photo courtesy of IRCG

Local game developers targeting the international market

In the past years, Iranian developers found the confidence to not only make games for their fellow Iranians but also aim for the international markets despite all the restrictions they have. Garshasp: The Monster Slayer, Shaban, Extraterrestrial Armies and Northern Farm are only some of these games.


This infographic presents the most important events in the history of gaming in Iran. The information on this infographic is based on DIREC’s national survey of gamers’ behavior study with more than 15 thousand people as sample size. In order to forecast the gamers’ population, SARIMAX model has been applied to the data set as a Time Series approach. SARIMAX model estimates its parameters by Auto Correlation, Partial Auto Correlation, and Cross Correlation functions. The population of the country is considered as the regressor.

The gamers’ population is forecasted based on the optimistic estimation of Statistical Center of Iran. Based on this estimation, the population of Iran in 2022 will be 84 million people. Some factors, such as different changes in the population growth rate, the occurrence of economic events, cultural & political policy makings, and also paradigm shifts in entertainment concept can adjust this number.

Note that this chart demonstrates the net amount of people who are added to the gamers’ population per year. The total number of gamers in each year is equal to the cumulative number of Iranians who have joined the gaming community in the country.

The data gathering and the analysis for this infographic has been done by Digital Games Research Center (DIREC), a spin-off company of Iran Computer & Video Game Foundation. The following infographic and the information in this report are exclusively published by TechRasa.


Download the infographic from the link below:

Evolution and the Future of Gaming in Iran

Evolution and the Future of Gaming in Iran - DIREC/TechRasa
Evolution and the Future of Gaming in Iran – DIREC/TechRasa

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“but mainly because gaming becomes an acceptable entertainment media for Iranian families” Well said :)) . or maybe the only accepted real entertainment