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Flick Pool Will Make Millions of Dollars Globally but the Pakistani Developer Won’t Earn Anything

A Pakistani tech company has launched a mobile game – Flick Pool – which shot up to fourth position in the world and second in the UK, but neither the game developer nor Pakistan will benefit from the millions of dollars generated by it.

Khurram Zafar – who is the Executive Director of LUMS Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Fellow at Pakistan Innovation Foundation – said the companies like Mindstorm Studio, the maker of this game, need millions of dollars for marketing and a business environment that celebrates their success and makes it easy for them to do business. But “we have neither [of these two] in Pakistan!” he regretted.

As far the financial resources are concerned, seed stage funds like 47 Ventures can provide small funds to catalyze product development and capture early customers, marketing a tech product globally requires several million dollars. And the absence of such funding is the great problem for the Pakistani entrepreneurs.

But there is another obstacle which relates to the absence of ease of doing business. Games like Flick Pool make money by selling small in-app products and showing ads, which means being able to send and receive small payments globally. However, it isn’t easy in Pakistan where the regulators think that everyone is laundering money and make rules to curb, not to facilitate, the businesses.

And the result is very discouraging. The developers like Mindstorm end up signing away their winning products to international game publishers which make millions but only give peanuts to the developers.

Moreover, the games end up showing ads from networks based in countries where sending and receiving global payments is easy. These ad networks make money and even Pakistani advertisers end up paying precious foreign exchange to them to show ads on Pakistan built games. So more expenditure

It also involves intellectual property rights. The international game publishers end up slapping their own names on these Pakistani products. It obfuscates the fact that Pakistan produced these products enjoyed by millions of people worldwide.

The problem is complicated further by the brain drain, as the talented developers eventually leave the country. The reason is simple the companies like Mindstorm lose millions of dollars in revenue and profit. Meanwhile, Pakistan too is unable to earn millions of dollars in precious foreign exchange from these winning games.

Khurram also suggests some measures as a solution. Besides attracting foreign investment and the need for the government to invest in science and technology, the authorities should some specific measures for the mobile products development industry: creating an enabling foreign exchange movement environment; investment in training more game developers, designers and marketers; co-funding private sector venture capital fund; and tax breaks and subsidies to mobile publishers.

It is worth noting that the gaming market’s current worth is $138 billion. Every game, regardless of where it is built, is distributed through two channels: App Store and Play Store.

The Pakistani developers and entrepreneurs need an enabling environment to compete on the world stage. All we need to remember is that Skype was built in a small country Estonia and Candy Crush in Malta.



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