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Anything but child’s play

Anything but child’s play

The video games industry is a bit of a monster, but local developers realize there is still huge growth potential in the Arabic market, as news this week demonstrates.

December 6, 2010 1:06 by

The National reports this week that a Jordanian developer has become the first company in the Middle East to publish a video game for the Sony Playstation.

Quirkat, a firm in Amman, plans to release the Basha Collection for the PS3 and PSP, says the paper. As the name suggests, it is actually a collection of Arabic card names, including Tameeb and Baloot, priced between $3.99 and $9.99.

“We knew that [Sony] wanted us to promote this platform, so we asked them to give us a chance and loan us a development kit,” said Mahmoud Ali Khasawneh, the chief executive of Quirkat. “For us, I cannot describe to you how exciting it was. It was a console manufacturer that will publish us globally on their network.”

The loan of the development kit was not such a gamble, in Kipp’s opinion – more likely Sony has its eyes on the massive potential of the Arabic gaming market, currently underserved. Indeed, according to the report, Tim Stokes, Sony’s sales and marketing man for the region, told the paper the Quirkat deal was a low risk way of testing sustainability of investment in the region. In other words, Sony wants to know: if we build it, will they come?

The answer must surely be yes. The young, technologically savvy population of the region go for social networking and gaming in a huge way – just this week UAE national Abdullah Saleh Al-Nammi became the first winner of the “Runes of Might” competition. The 27 year old was awarded his prize – a high performance laptop – at the Dubai World Gaming Expo this week. Apparently to win it, he had to conquer a series of dungeons in the game by acquiring power and raising an army. Or something. Anyway, he was the first to do it in the region, and that’s a big deal.

Kipp may not have a clue about the game, but Saleh Al-Nammi is a perfect example of the Middle East’s potential when it comes to gaming. He’s young, enthusiastic, and has money to spend. And, dare we say it, he’s probably not spending his time or cash on alcohol, like western counterparts. It adds up to a compelling prospect for gaming developers, like Tahadi Ganes, the firm behind “Runes.”

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