Pakistan has a mobile-first gaming market, which means that cell phones are the primary mode of game consumption rather than consoles, computers, or virtual reality. Intel Digital predicts that mobile games will generate $171.3 million in 2022.
Pakistan’s gaming industry is focused on developing mobile apps. “It’s all copy and paste,” laments Shehmir Riaz Bhatti, a game engineer working on Texas hold’em poker for a Chinese company. Large gaming studios in Pakistan assign a popular game to their team with one task: change the user interface and model, and incorporate as many advertisements as possible. He added that heavy investments are made in marketing the game to ensure downloads, but no effort is made to develop a unique product. The publisher receives advertising revenue from downloads. As a result, their interest is not in innovation or creativity, but in cloning popular games to make a quick buck. Big-ticket, multi-player, complex, strategy, and battlefield games necessitate millions of dollars in investments and years of development time. Cloned hyper-casual [short, lightweight, instantly playable] games, on the other hand, can be made in a week for $2,000 to $4,000.
But while Pakistan focuses on hyper-casual games, it is moving towards more progressive frontiers. With the integration of the Metaverse into the gaming community, Pakistan can move beyond the niche of mobile games to create space in the Metaverse — an opportunity that several companies are already seizing. Pakistan will play a significant role in the Metaverse within the next five years.
The gaming industry is also faced with a shortage of trained workforce which includes developers and designers. Pakistan produces about 20,000 IT graduates every year. Universities should encourage people to look into this career option rather than just pushing people towards more traditional streams.