Gaming in Pakistan: An Outside Story

With lots of flowers and a few candies too. Diabetics are forewarned!

Hamlet had told his friend once: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” and of course, The Bard was right on the money. This world of ours is a mysterious place indeed.

Even if we put such nagging questions aside as ‘Does a falling tree make a sound when no one is around to hear it’? Or ‘Did Han really shoot first’? Or ‘Why did the kamikaze pilots wear helmets’? There are still such day to day occurrences, which may leave a thinking mind absolutely baffled.

The latest entry to that list would be the article “Gaming in Pakistan: An Insider’s Perspective”. And not only that even before the article begins you are informed or rather warned ominously that “it is not all flowers and candy” too.

Devastated though the news left me I gathered courage and decided to be a man and soldier on.

Now I must confess that being just a gamer from Pakistan, I have absolutely no such accomplishments under my belt that may warrant any claim of my being an ‘Insider’ at the Pakistani gaming scene, but it still made me curious as to what ‘insides’ of Pakistani gaming were being alluded to there.

Game engine development? Rigging or animating character models? Creating stories for them? Perhaps a close association with marketing or financing gaming projects? Event management or organizing gaming tournaments? But then again, as the esteemed author told us in his absolutely matter of fact tone:

“there are no hardcore gamers here,” may be I shouldn’t have thought so much on the meaning of ‘Insider’ in the first place.

The esteemed insider began by telling that the local shops are littered with hundreds of pirated PS2 dvds which is why no one in this ‘failed state’ of Pakistan dares touching an Xbox 360 or a PS3 with a ten-foot pole.

But I don’t want to talk about how ‘piracy’ made this country a ‘failed state’ yet China still remains an economic power house on the global fore front; what I failed to understand was that first the author assures us that you would be lucky if you found an Xbox 360 or a PS3 game lying around in a Pakistani shop:

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 the reason too i.e Pakistani gamers are drooling morons: because an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 are too complicated for a normal Pakistani to use or mod… they don’t know the difference between a pirated game or an original; only by cost. (Don’t miss the implication of the word ‘normal’ here)…

And yet almost immediately after imparting that clandestine inside info the author baffles us by saying: “An Xbox… 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.” I guess the computations required to process an insider’s thoughts and perspective is too much to handle for an outsider’s cerebrum, such as mine. Mere thought made my insides hurt.

This article is indeed an eye-opener for millions of lay, non-hardcore Pakistani gamer such as yours truly as almost every other line here is packed with tremendous amount of jaw dropping information but what truly left me in awe was the rock-solid conviction and absolute confidence of the author on various aspects of the Pakistani gaming scene, that oozes out of orifice of the words.

Such absolute conviction and confidence the likes of which were only seen when Jesus Christ used to order the dead to rise or when George Bush senior’s uttered those iconic lines: “Read my lips –No New Taxes!” A few examples:

Piracy is to be expected from a failed state like Pakistan

PlayStation 3′s blu-ray drive media and technology have made it impossible to create cheap, pirated games for it; so it flopped

“There are very few people here who actually buy original games, and those who do are spoiled rich brats”. Which obviously means that if you buy legit games in Pakistan, you are not only rich but both ‘spoiled’ and a ‘brat’ too.

Though I wish the author had shed some more inside light on this phenomena i.e since only rich spoiled brats buy legit, does buying original games ‘spoil’ you?

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.

So if six mainstream Assassin’s Creed titles sell for Five thousand Pakistani rupees a pop (around 45-46 US Dollars) that makes it thirty thousand rupees (around 275-76 USDs) “per annum” or slightly more than 2 Dollars a month. That’s some inside info!

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.

No matter how rotten the efforts of spoiled rich brats be to support legal purchase, both Xbox One and PS4 have already “flopped” in Pakistan within weeks of their releases.

There are no “hardcore” gamers over here

Okay. I apologize for my harsh tone here, but that seems rather unfair I mean it is obvious that the esteemed insider author is in a league of his own, but a little encouragement doesn’t hurt.

I know of a few such casual Pakistani so called gamers who have been popping up here and there, winning a round, or a game or FINE an international tournament or dozen, who would completely lose their morale if they read that. Guys such as:

MicroNukeX who also goes by the name Saqib Mirza, probably. Resides in Islamabad. When he is not taking care of his family business, he is at EVO International fairly regularly representing Pakistan.

Also he does stuff such as winning 207 consecutive matches in Super Street Fighter IV on Xbox Live too. Meh.


Owais Liaqat with a very humble working-class background who was financed by Tekken Community Pakistan (and not WCG Pakistan) to participate in WCG 2011 (World Cyber Games 2011) in Busan, South Korea where he sort of tore apart both Korean AND Chinese Tekken players.

And of course, WCG Pakistan did to him what usually is done to such people i.e reneged on the promise of an Xbox 360 for a prize, and he never got to see a dime for that too.

Mashood Butt who is buddies with Owais was invited by the Tekken Community of South Africa which he graciously accepted and consequently, kicked ass. Then we have Pakistani DOTA team, Virtuosity, which went as far as the quarter finals of WCG Asian Championships 2011 with just FOUR players.

Team Incredibles the phenomenal Counter Strike players of Pakistan who have won MTV Tournament, C-Track Tournament, Gold-Leaf Tournament, Intel Youth Tournament, MSI Tournament, MSI 2 Tournament, (LGL) Lord Gamers League, (KGL) Karachi Gamers League, AAG TV Tournament and more than 20 other tournaments at the national and international level.

But of course when an insider into Pakistani gaming scene says Pakistani gaming scene is doomed from the start then who are those to argue? Gaming obviously means only home consoles too.

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.

Now I was under the impression that people who bought or want to buy an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 would probably want to do that because of such critically acclaimed exclusives as Gears of War, Forza Motor Sports, Witcher 2, God of War, Uncharted or The Last of Us but since the most Pakistani gamers are “casual 12 year olds “ mere hope is lost already.

And even more valid a point is the ‘destruction’ of console market in Pakistan by the ‘smart phone industry”.

I mean isn’t this an amazing observation? Of course in the presence of dirt cheap IPhone 5s and IPad 3s and IPad Air the console market of Pakistan (which wasn’t actually anything worth mentioning to begin with) is doomed like the Dodo.

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.

Perfectly reasonable. I mean how in the name of Hades’ underpants, a Pakistani gamer is going to afford various humble bundles priced “ONE” dollar when his monthly income is hardly more than 2 dollars?

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.

Forgive me for quoting the whole paragraph but this is a sad confession of my severely limited English comprehension skills. I just couldn’t understand almost any of the inside info that is imparted here, such as: what sixty legal games in 60 bucks? What ‘mega’ stores and in which city or cities of Pakistan? And most importantly what “gamer than Pakistan”?

I am a casual Pakistani gamer from Karachi who mostly buys original games, and since I do not frequent Europe or North America, I buy my games from local shops, which are as far from mega stores as Ritz is from Pyala Hotel.

Not only, that those shops are littered with original PS3 and Xbox 360 games (and original PSP, PS Vita, Nintendo DS and 3DS ones) but their turn over of both consoles is so high you could find every single latest bundle, be it Grand Theft Auto 5 or Killzone Shadowfall, at those shops, and they hardly stay there for more than a couple of days.

Similarly, my friends from Islamabad, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar and Quetta also face little to no difficulty in finding most-recent games within three days of release.

Anyway, I consider myself fortunate to have been awarded this opportunity to read that article. It was a truly awesome and educational experience. I am eagerly looking forward to any other inside scoop the author might be sharing with ‘us’ later.

My Insides Are Ready!