Iranian Game Industry Suffered By Government Blocking Of Google Play

Saturday, 03/09/2024

Iranian game developers caution about the dire state of the country's gaming sector following statements by the culture minister on drafting a document for computer games.

Industry activists have identified government blocking of Google Play as the primary obstacle hindering the growth of the gaming industry. According to Donya-e-Eqtesad newspaper in Tehran, Iranian game developers say that the government's directive to filter Google Play has resulted in a significant loss of 30 to 40 percent in revenue for companies in this sector.

Mohammad Mehdi Esmaeili, the Minister of Culture recently announced President Ebrahim Raisi's directive to draft a comprehensive document on computer games. However, industry activists have criticized the drafting of new laws for the sector as futile.

Ali Nadalizadeh, a publisher of mobile games in Iran, has emphasized the removal of the Google Play filter as the most pressing concern in the sector. He argues that “since the gaming sector in the country has been legislatively addressed before, there is no need for new laws.”

Experts caution that the blocking of Google Play has severely impeded game producers' advertising capacity, with domestic alternatives unable to compensate for the loss. In January 2023, the Computer Guild Organization of Iran warned the Minister of Communications about the adverse effects of Google Play filtering, citing a decline in users, reduced developer income, and widespread unemployment among specialized personnel.

The Iranian government's broader internet restrictions, implemented following nationwide protests after the killing of Mahsa Amini in police custody in 2022, initially led to the temporary filtering of Google Play. However, the permanent removal of the government app Rubika from the platform prompted authorities to maintain the filter.

Despite ongoing concerns raised by industry stakeholders, the government has yet to provide a clear rationale for the continued blocking of Google Play.

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