GW: Gaming Abroad

The talent and ability of our guest writers has been both surprising and impressive. This submission, from TSA member Zuler,  is something that I can’t imagine appearing anywhere else. This is why our community is so important to us and why we think that TSA is so unique.


Now, I don’t live in the UK, I live in a rather small country in the Middle East called the United Arab Emirates, or UAE for short. First off, in my county, we don’t have a GameStop, Best Buy, EB Games, Blockbuster or GAME. In fact, there’s only one game-only retailer but they’re small-time and I don’t think they exist outside this country, called Geekay Games. Now, there is also quite a few Virgin Megastores around, but their main focus is on phones and music, so their game selection is pretty limited. Games are also in the odd electronic shop here and there, but no one except for Geekay is really serious about it.

One major fact that you all should know: since there’s no retailer like Blockbuster or GAME, there is no place to rent games or buy used games. So no “try before you buy” for us. All the places mentioned above usually sell brand new games at 300 Dirhams. Now, here’s a rough conversion scale for all of you. 1 pound is equal to 6 Dirhams (approx.) and 1 euro is equal to 5.2 Dirhams, and 1 US dollar is equal to 3.7 Dirhams. So 300 hundred Dirhams is equal to £50, €58 and $81. The worst part is that the maximum price that a game is ever reduced to is 220 Dirhams, which is £37 pounds, or $60. So you see, when the price is reduced it becomes equivalent to the price of a new game releasing in the US or UK which is normally $60 or 40 pounds.

I went to South Africa last year for my summer holidays, and in most shops, Soul Calibur IV, which was new at the time, was priced at 700 Rands (Which is 350 Dirhams)! Oh, and don’t get me started on the price of Guitar Hero: World Tour here. That game is about 1200 Dirhams which is £200! Rock Band is not officially released here, but I managed to get a copy for 1300 Dirhams.

Lots of people who live here don’t read sites like this, they just usually buy random games for their children. I should mention that there is pretty much no advertising for either the PS3 or Xbox. So, usually the Xbox is bought just because of the price.

Now let me inform you a bit about our PSN Store and PSN in general. We’re actually kind of lucky we even have the service, considering that India (the second most populated country of the world) doesn’t. Our store gets updated with most of the items the UK store does, but there is always a very notable absence of one thing: music DLC. By this, I mean that there is no Guitar Hero or Rock Band DLC at all. Not even one song. That’s why I bought Rock Band, so I could have the American version and use my Entropay card to buy DLC off the US Store. Guitar Hero was only available in the European Version, so I didn’t buy that. Also, we don’t get the DLC of some games, like for Skate 2 and Call of Duty: World at War. I have the EU version of these games, so I can’t even use my Entropay.

Now, I’m sure you all must be thinking:”That must suck, to buy games so expensive”. Well, one day I, luckily, found a small shop on the corner of a street. They weren’t a retailer so to speak, but a merchant who had a source who got games when they released in the UK and could  most of the time get any type of the game (American, European, Japanese), for my DLC purposes. Most of the time, they sell me the games at 220 Dirhams which is the same as a new game’s price, as I mentioned before. Sadly, if I were to ask for an older game they still sell it to me at that price, so it’s still quite annoying if you buy a game like Wolverine or infamous (remember, there’s no pre-owned so we can’t sell them back and no rental services so we can’t try before we buy!). I’ve bought all of my games from them, and I try my best to get an American version but I will settle for a European one if I know it won’t have any DLC.

I talked a bit about the PSN store, but let me say something about the PSN and how bad it can be at times, especially on my wallet. A few months ago, the PSN for my whole country was off for a few days. There are 2 ISP’s in this country. One’s called Etisalat and the other Du. Du doesn’t cover my area, so I can’t have their internet. I pay 250 Dirhams (£42) for a 1 Megabit (125 kilobytes) per month. Internet is that expensive here and Etisalat’s service is absolutely horrible. The week that the PSN was down here they got a few calls and maybe 1 out of 10 people even knew what PSN was. 1 out of 10! It was a nightmare but it got fixed eventually. The amount of ignorance and laziness was appalling.

So with all this, you can imagine how much money I spend, trust me it’s a lot. In the UK, you rarely have to buy games for £40 as you either wait for it to drop down, or buy it online and get it cheaper. You can rent games to see if you like them or not and can even finish it and give it back. You can buy used games and sell back your old games. I’m actually quite grateful, as I have an Entropay card, know enough to understand about region-locked DLC and have a very kind father who gets me all this. The main reason is because I study really hard when I have to but I pity most of the other children. They ask their parents to buy some random game. They have a PSN account and buy DLC but it doesn’t work as their parents got them the American version. They ask their parents, who are usually clueless, to tell them why it’s not working. As you can see, the US and UK spends relatively less on their gaming hobby. Most people with a console know about its features, and abilities. People only realise the value of things once it’s been taken away from them. I’m in no way saying that all of you are ungrateful but this is something to think about when you’re lucky enough to buy a game like The Darkness, for less than £5.