Visitors walk past an advertising placard of the Xbox One at the Microsoft Games exhibition stand during the Gamescom 2013 fair in Cologne August 21, 2013. — Reuters Photo
Visitors walk past an advertising placard of the Xbox One at the Microsoft Games exhibition stand during the Gamescom 2013 fair in Cologne August 21, 2013. — Reuters Photo

There was a barely audible gasp in the audience during the press conference at E3 when Microsoft outlined their plans for the new Xbox One.

A futuristic-looking ‘home entertainment’ console', which the technology giant claimed would surpass the average gamers expectations and meet the entire household’s entertainment needs. The Xbox One is equipped for everything from streaming live television, to playing DVDs, attending video calls and immersing oneself in the latest cutting edge video gaming technology.

The experience of playing wildly popular titles like Halo and Call of Duty would be enhanced with the all-new 4K supported gaming engine, enthralling gamers like never before.

However, the air of optimism quickly turned sour, when the audience was introduced to the draconian measures that Microsoft was adopting to increase their consumer base as well as bump up revenue streams.

The console would be available for an eye-watering baseline price of $499. It would need to be connected to the internet at least once every 24 hours in order for a ‘validation’ process to take place, and users would not be allowed to trade games with friends, since games simply would not work on more than one console.

These announcements by Microsoft definitely came as a shock to the gaming world. But with relative affluence in Western countries, and with higher purchasing power afforded to the ordinary consumer, one can argue that the popularity of these consoles in primary markets will remain relatively unaffected. There will simply be a straight war between Sony and Microsoft for the dominance of their respective consoles.

What’s more interesting however, is how the new consoles will be viewed in frontier markets like Pakistan, where users are more willing to elk out a hefty first-time amount to buy the console but are unwilling to pay roughly $60 for every game that they purchase. Piracy is rampant in frontier markets like these, with the console of choice being automatically the one for which pirated games are readily available.

The Xbox 360 remains the console of choice for most Pakistani gamers today. Its relative affordability (current market price is Rs 25,000) as well as a single pirated game retailing for only Rs.100 means that gamers can afford to enjoy this home entertainment luxury. Online gaming remains out of the question however, partly due to lack of broadband connectivity, but mainly because a pirated game will simply not work on-line.

Firdous Ali, proprietor of a popular video games shop in Defence, Karachi, spoke solemnly when asked for his views on how the next-generation consoles will be received in Pakistan.

He believes that the industry is already on the decline due to deteriorating economic conditions and the exorbitant price of the new consoles, coupled with their online connectivity requirements and lack of cheap pirated games, will deal the proverbial death-knell to the market.

“Tablet computers and smartphones are already eating into the market for video games; which consumer will be willing to pay in the region of Rs 70,000 for the Xbox One?” he opined.

Confirming this trend, Shahbaz Mahmood, the owner of a video games shop in the famed electronics market of Saddar, Karachi, said that his sales had declined from about 15 – 20 consoles per week to less than 5 now.

“While Sony remains a superior brand, its popularity in the Pakistani market had already declined once pirated games were not available anymore for the PlayStation 3. The Xbox 360 would still sell relatively well, but with the new next-generation consoles, all this is bound to change,” he said.

Countries like Pakistan, where piracy is rampant and copyright laws remain non-existent, are a thorny issue for companies like Microsoft who want to help the nascent markets but do not want to compromise their stand on piracy either.

The gaming industry in Pakistan is set to make a divisive shift in the coming months. Most hardcore gamers may very well delve into their pockets once again and refuse to deny themselves the experience of console gaming, but overall interest in consoles is very likely to subside.

Confirming market trends, most consumers in Pakistan are switching to PCs, which serve multiple functions, and where online connectivity issues are less of a problem. However, it would be a sad state of affairs if this decline was allowed to continue.


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Comments (11) Closed




DevilHunterX
Aug 22, 2013 09:20pm

The experience of playing wildly popular titles like Halo and Call of Duty would be enhanced with the all-new 4K supported gaming engine, enthralling gamers like never before.

Stopped reading after this. It is quite obvious the blog writer has no clue as to what he is talking about.

zulqarnain
Aug 22, 2013 10:47pm

very expensive...

waseem
Aug 22, 2013 11:57pm

PS4 all the way. xbox no way near.

Abdul Raheem
Aug 23, 2013 03:57am

"The console would be available for an eye-watering baseline price of $499. It would need to be connected to the internet at least once every 24 hours in order for a

Farhan Asad
Aug 23, 2013 06:44am

Even in the US, PCs are become a leading force compared to consoles. The amount of flexibility that the PC offers and the horsepower it brings to the table is unrivaled. And with the next generation consoles having hardware slower than a mid ranged Intel Core i5 machine that has a mid ranged Geforce or a Radeon graphics card within it, there's less and less point in investing on a console. You can get almost all the games that you could otherwise get on a console and run them on the current PC with noticeably better visual quality. Even next generation consoles are not going to change that.

Murad
Aug 23, 2013 09:50am

Hi,

The Article is based on Outdated information, the XBOX Always on requirement is re-tracted by MS already and that is going to change things a bit..

Though I really like the headline about Gaming in Pakistan in general...there are many other aspects to further explore as well which weren't taken into consideration in this article however.

Mo
Aug 23, 2013 01:39pm

"Nice" however, you are supposed to do some research before writing any article.

As per the latest update from Microsoft. Xbox one will not require 24hours internet connectivity and gamer can enjoy pre-owener games as well.

Initially, Microsoft announced that Xbox one will require internet connectivity and pre-owner games cannot be trade after receiving negative feedback, MS had to update their policy.

Please see the below Microsoft official Blog- last updated on posted June 19, 2013 at 2:00 PM

http://news.xbox.com/2013/06/update

Regards,

Mo
Aug 23, 2013 02:21pm

Microsoft has reviewed their policy and as per the last update on June 2013, Xbox one will not require constant/ 24hours internet connectivity and gamers can trade their old games as well.

See the below official blog. http://news.xbox.com/2013/06/update

Yasir
Aug 23, 2013 02:57pm

@author,

You've got facts wrong in your article, Microsoft has released updated terms which do not require a dedicated internet connection nor are there any restrictions on used games.

http://news.xbox.com/2013/06/update

Xbox one is not only a game console, for $499, if we had copyright protection, you also get access to online content. You could essentially replace your DVD and Sat cable with an xbox one eventually. Not to mention that its a product that will be updated online and also uses cloud infrastructure to power your games--and that costs money.

Piracy is our issue and something we should be tackling as a nation instead of trying to find fixes to pricing. I think its a great thing we cannot purchase pirated games and look forward to when software, music & movies are also unavailable for pirated downloads. It opens up opportunity for local industry to step-up and build content @ local pricing levels and drives competition with global competitors.

Anyhow, I would suggest a retraction or correction of the articles facts.

Akram
Aug 23, 2013 03:02pm

Pakistan will follow the hardcore gamers to find a cheap solution. most likely hacked games on tablets and smart phones. the console is a dying breed. We no longer need a separate box to play games. these days its easier and cheaper to download.

irfan baloch
Aug 23, 2013 04:11pm

how will be use this technology? on solar power or the power of prayers? since there is no electricity