Syria is a country of approximately 22.0 million people, but it’s not often thought of as a center of game development.
While the country’s origins in game development are only about a dozen years old, the country has produced its fair share of videogames, the history of which are detailed in an article on GamesLatest, penned by Syrian game developer Radwan Kasmiya.
Kasmiya pins the delay in Syrian game development taking off on “serious” Arab developers generally gravitating towards creating corporate applications in order to make ends meet. This situation, in turn, helped to foster Syria’s independent gaming community, of which Kasmiya was a member—he released a game called War 73 in 1999, which centered on the Arab-Israeli conflicts.
The first commercially-developed Syrian game, according to the author, was Under Ash, which work started on in 2000. Given the limited funds behind the game, its developers were forced to construct a 3D engine from scratch, but the game, based on the Palestinian conflict, went on to sell 100,000 units over six months, a “huge number.”
Following the success of Under Ash, the developers formed the company AfkarMedia and released Under Ash II (also called Under Siege) in 2004, a game that revolved around the modern history of Palestine and featured a storyline based on actual United Nations records from 1978-2004. The company is still pumping out games today.
The article also mentions the company Techniat3D, whose adventure game sold only about 100 copies, which the author attributes to the “improper attire” worn by the game’s heroine on the front of its box. Another company mentioned is Joy Box, which formed in 2008 and focuses on casual and mobile games.
Kasmiya explained why Syrian developers are more focused on the PC as a gaming platform:
This was simply due to the fact that PCs are a more affordable platform for publishers. The other reason relates to the console manufacturer’s attitude toward the ME market. Everybody knows that Microsoft doesn’t even support Xbox Live services, although Sony consoles are very popular in this region, many countries (including Syria) are not even included in their PlayStation Networks list of supported countries.
Kasmiya calls the future of Syrian game developers “promising,” and dubs the country, “one of the core countries of the video games industry in the Middle East.”