Sony’s PlayStation has always held a special place in the Arab World since their release of the first console back in 1995. What no one wants to admit is that the reason the PSOne was the rage in the Middle East was the relatively easy way one could copy discs.
This practice continued with the PS2 and, to a limited extent, with the PS3. Of course, the PSN would decommission PS3 consoles that were running pirated games, but multiplayer held little sway in the Arab world given dial up was still the only way the Internet was accessed.
With the PS4 and Sony’s anti-piracy checks built right into the console and the laborious, if nigh impossible, method of jail breaking the system, there was no longer a cheaper way to game in the Arab world.
Add to this, the fact that ISP providers could handle the bandwidth required for video gaming now, most Arabs didn’t want to be banned from playing online.
Here’s were Microsoft showed their ingenuity by catering for this niche market. Understanding that to outmaneuver Sony they needed to highlight specific features which could win back traditional players as well as attract new customers.
In 2018 at the Dubai World Games Expo Microsoft aggressively pursued a campaign board that emphasized the following:
Game Pass: for a small monthly fee you can play most Microsoft titles to your hearts content
Superior Streaming Services: Kodi was added to the Xbox (a gesture to users who stream IPTV). The Microsoft Infrastructure is just superior to PSN and works better over large distances.
EA Pass: Playing Fifa, a popular game in the Middle East along with FPS games such as Call of Duty and Battlefield for a small monthly fee is a huge get in the Arab world
Backwards Compatibility:This has allowed Arabs on low income to play older games, which cost a few dollars, on newer hardware and is a great incentive for new customers in the Arab world who are new to gaming and wish to experience older titles before moving on to sequels.
Sony’s dominance of the Arab market seems to have come to end and their recent announcement of a possible play-as-a-service console could finally be the nail in the coffin for them.