Iran’s Gaming Market

ArabNet Team, Aug 25 2016

Iran has around 80 million people, so naturally there is a huge Internet audience. Sadly, most information is incorrect since the market is already foggy so the Iranian game market can’t share useful insight for other Middle Eastern countries. Data collected and used in this article are from DIREC (Digital Games Research Center), an accurate resource and will give an idea of Iran’s game market. DIREC was founded in 2015 and is a spin-off company of Iran Computer Games Foundation. It was created in order to make room for research cores.

The population of the Islamic Republic of Iran is 78.475.941 million. The female population is 38.8 million and the male population is 39.6 million. The 0-19 age group is 32.16% of the total population, the 20-44 age group is 46.02% and the 45+ age group is 21.82%. The average annual growth rate is 29%.

Internet Penetration Statistics
By the end of this year (Iranian year starts March 21), the Internet penetration rate will be at 65%, according to Iran’s Ministry of Communication and Information TechnologyWhen it comes to how Iranian Internet users access the web, the primary tool is their mobile phones. Second to this is ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line), Internet through your landline. Over 29 million Iranians use mobile phones to access the Internet, statistics show that mobile 3G network penetration’s rate is at 38.67%. There are almost seven million users of dial-up connection to access the Internet, that’s a penetration rate of 9.2% for all Internet users in Iran, according to other connectivity indexes in Iran.

Mobile Operators
There are three major mobile operators in Iran: Mobile Telecommunication Company of Iran (MCI), Irancell and RightelAccording to latest reports from the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology there are nearly 70 million active subscribers to these three networks. All three of them offer 3G-4G Internet services to their customers. Between devices used, 78% of the population use Android, 13% use iOS and the rest are on Windows-based mobiles.

Game Market in Iran
Iran has 23 million gamers, according to DIREC’s report. The average age of gamers is 21 years old and 53% of gamers are daily active users. 63% of gamers are male and the other 37% are female. The favorite genres in mobile devices are strategic, racing, runner, arcade, sport, adventure and puzzle.

Where They Buy Their Games
GooglePlay, Appstore and Steam are not available in Iran and local payment system is also not available for Iranian users. Some gamers use VPNs to have access to international game stores. As a result, Iran is one of the few countries where there are domestic equivalents to the international market leaders. There are about 10 online stores in Iran but the four most popular are Cafebazzar, Plazza, Myket, and Iranapps

In 2015, researching their annual reports, their total sales were around $40 million, most of which is made on products with in-app purchases.This number is set to increase by 15% in 2016. Gameup, which will be launched in the winter, is the only one who will cover PC market, online game stores, online client games and, mobile game market. Products with in-app purchases have made most of the revenue of mentioned stores. The most popular games in Iran are FIFA, PES, Call of Duty, GTA, Clash of Clans, Subway Surfers and, Travian Legends. The highest rated games on Steam by Iranians are Dota2, Counter Strike and, Call of Duty.

The Finances
So when it comes to the money, foreign game producer companies hit a brick wall with Iran. Due to sanctions, Iran has faced problems when connecting to the global financial network. Most people inside the country have no access to MasterCard, Visa cards, or the PayPal system at all. Rather, the unique method for payment is a local payment system called ShetabShaparak is the online payment portal used on all Iranian sites.

Every person who has a debit card from any bank can pay online. In order for companies to adopt an online payment system, they need to get an approval from the Ministry of Industry. A procedure is needed to become officially recognized by the government and to be part of Iran’s online transaction system.

A Sophisticated Market
There are Islamic regulations. This means that all artistic, cultural and entertainment products must obey these regulations. For example, the games, which include inappropriate content, would not get an approval; censored content often includes information that relates to pornography, anti-security of the country, anti-Islam and certain anti-religious content. Also, women’s bodies should be covered at all times (upper body and feet).

To read the detailed article written by Hassan Mehdiasi, CEO and Founder of Sourena Game Studio, Producer and Publisher of Computer Games and Founder of AllPays, click here.

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