Quirkat deals new hand for Sony PlayStation

A Jordanian developer is the first company in the Middle East to publish a video game for the Sony PlayStation.

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A Jordanian developer is the first company in the Middle East to publish a video game for the Sony PlayStation.

Quirkat, a developer based in Amman, will release the Basha Collection, a series of Arabic card games, such as Tarneeb and Baloot.

The games will cost from US$3.99 (Dh14.65) to $9.99 from Sony's digital download network. They feature original artwork and music and are compatible with the company's PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable devices.

"We knew that [Sony] wanted us to promote this platform, so we asked them to give us a chance and loan us a development kit," said Mahmoud Ali Khasawneh, the chief executive of Quirkat.

"For us, I cannot describe to you how exciting it was. It was a console manufacturer that will publish us globally on their network."

Gate2Play, an online payment platform, estimates there are 5 million users in the Middle East who enjoy social media gaming, each spending an average of $18 per month.

The global gaming market is expected to grow from $52.5 billion last year to $86.8bn in 2014, according to a recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

It is expected that the Middle East's video game industry will similarly expand.

Tim Stokes, the sales and marketing director for Sony's regional PlayStation division, said the deal with Quirkat was low risk for the console maker to determine whether further investment in the region can be sustainable.

"With Quirkat, their games may have appeal in parts of Europe and the US but by and large, they're going to be in this region," said Mr Stokes.

Quirkat is also in talks with Sony to acquire a PlayStation Move developer kit that will allow it to develop games using the console's motion-sensing controller.

"We've recently got [Basha Collection] out of quality assurance with Sony, which was quite the experience because Sony was very tough," said Mr Khasawneh.

"But it's been a great learning curve and we've now perfected our code. Our dream is to do a title for the [PlayStation] Move and we've been semi-approved by them."

About 50,000 PlayStation Move consoles have been sold in the Middle East since it became available in September, said Mr Stokes.

"We've given [Quirkat] a bit of financial support to get the project off the ground and now we're looking at other opportunities with them around PS3, PSP or even Move," he said.

Quirkat will follow up the Basha Collection with Sor3a, which in Arabic means "speed", a drag race featuring several cities in the Gulf region, for the PlayStation Portable device next month.