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Global ambitions: Learn about the challenges facing Pakistan's game devs

Global ambitions: Learn about the challenges facing Pakistan's game devs

March 15, 2017 | By Chris Kerr

It's always interesting to learn about the unique challenges facing game devs around the world, and in a recent feature Polygon has turned the spotlight towards those creators based in Pakistan. 

Touching on everything from the impact of politics on the country's nascent games industry, to the struggles faced by some of the region's biggest players, the long-form piece highlights just how far the games industry has to go before it can be recognized as a truly global business. 

That's because for some, even in a country as big as Pakistan -- which boasts a population of over 200 million -- working in games still isn't seen as a viable career path. Help and support from the government is scarce at best, meaning those determined to succeed must employ methods some might consider a little unorthodox 

"Bringing venture capital to Pakistan is one of the hardest things you can think of," explains Babar Ahmed of Mindstorm Studios, one of Pakistan's largest game companies and the developer behind Cricket Revolution and the official ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 tie-in. 

"No one pays for content in Pakistan; everything is pirated," explains Ahmed. "So I looked at the biggest spenders in the space, and one of the bigger spenders in Pakistani cricket is Pepsi. So I contacted the marketing company who handles their account."

"I said, look, instead of paying a million dollars on a team commercial that runs all month, let me build Pepsi into [Cricket Revolution] where you can offer the game for free, so it’s a long-tail marketing strategy. [After that] they gave us a large sum of money to develop the game."

Despite finding success in the region, it hasn't been plain sailing for Ahmed, who says he's had to work hard to remove the stigma of being from Pakistan.

In fact, Ahmed suggests he was "driven out" of his home country by a lack of opportunity. He was was fed up of fighting an uphill battle and determined to give his kids a better shot at life. That's why he upped sticks to San Francisco. 

"It's sad, but for people like myself who want to do something positive in Pakistan, you’re eventually driven out by something or the other. Particularly given how flat the world is, if you’re a person who has opportunities [elsewhere] but you’re in Pakistan, it’s hard to justify staying. It’s not just me. My whole network feels this."

You can find out more about Pakistan's games industry by reading the full feature over on Polygon.

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