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Saudi gamers fuming over local PlayStation Store’s performance

Gamers in the Kingdom want Saudi PlayStation Store to introduce services like its other regional counterparts offer. (AFP/Reuters)
Gamers in the Kingdom want Saudi PlayStation Store to introduce services like its other regional counterparts offer. (AFP/Reuters)
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11 Aug 2020 02:08:40 GMT9
11 Aug 2020 02:08:40 GMT9

Aseel Bashraheel

JEDDAH: Gamers have vented their anger on Twitter about the Saudi PlayStation store and its Plus services in the Kingdom for failing to meet consumers’ needs and not supplying advertised games.

New content is provided to PlayStation Plus subscribers on a monthly basis, allowing users to try new games for free according to their agreement. The annual fee is $49.99 for the Saudi store. It is $59.99 in the US. Both subscriptions are intended to enhance gamers’ experience and offer a minimum of 24 games per year around the world.

This month, PlayStation’s latest promoted game “Fall Guys” is a multiplayer race featuring brightly colored visuals and characters

But, upon its worldwide release on Aug. 4 and although advertised on the Saudi store’s platforms, the game has yet to be added to the store. This led to the gaming community starting a Twitter campaign in protest, calling people to boycott the store for not adding popular titles despite advertising their release.

Not all games are prohibited by the Kingdom’s General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM). Many have received the green light from the GCAM, yet they are still not up for sale on the Saudi PlayStation store.

The commission’s video games general supervisor, Hattan Tawili, said that his organization was not responsible for issues with the Saudi PlayStation store.

“The situation has unfortunately become boring and aggravating. Every time the store advertises new games, I get a lot of hate and queries,” Tawili said on Twitter.

“Let me clarify this once and for all. The store has been going from bad to worse for approximately a year now, and as much as I had advocated for people to use it, I’ve started using a separate US account once I realized those responsible for the store here don’t understand anything about gaming.”

Tawili added that so many games were authorized and permissible for sale by the commission yet remained missing from the Saudi store.

“Many adapt and improve to go head-to-head with their competitors, but these guys just don’t care. I know you do, but if you’ve been calling them out for a year and nothing’s happened then it’s time to move on. I recommend you change your store to a different region,” he added.

Attempts to reach Tawili and the Saudi PlayStation store for comment were unsuccessful.

Raed Al-Juhani said he had heard his friends complain about it for as long as he could remember the store existing.

People are fed up of seeing simple RPG (role-playing games) and battling games get ousted for no reason.

Raed Al-Juhan

“I would chat with my friends and ask them to check out popular games that I can access for free through my PlayStation Plus subscription,” he told Arab News.

“They’d get excited about it with me and we’d plan a gaming session, only to find out the games aren’t released on the store.”

He called the situation a “constant” state of disappointment.

“No wonder this hashtag’s trending. People are fed up of seeing simple RPG (role-playing games) and battling games get ousted for no reason. Not all of my friends speak English fluently. Using the store allows them to fully immerse in a game once it’s available in Arabic. But at what cost?”

Nora Al-Rifai had friends who recommended that she either signed up for the US or UK store when she bought her PlayStation console.

“It goes for all my gaming friends,” she told Arab News. “In terms of quality and quantity, there’s a multitude of games in international stores that is in no way comparable to the Saudi store. There are games that are also unavailable in our store — whether it’s for language or mature content, I’m not sure — but that’s not the only type that’s missing from our store. There are games that are literally safe for all yet they’re not available in our region.”

International PlayStation stores come with many benefits. Every month, Al-Rifai gets discount offers, try-it-for-free games and game trials.

 “I think the only people who are using the Saudi store are young children because their parents set up their accounts for safety and to not expose them to mature content,” she added.

I think the only people who are using the Saudi store are young children because their parents set up their accounts for safety and to not expose them to mature content.

Nora Al-Rifai, a Saudi gamer

People are supporting the Saudi store simply in the hope that it will lead to more Arabic content with Arabic subtitles and dubbed games. But, according to avid gamer Rania Khalid, nobody will spend their time or money on a store when games are unavailable, removed for violating Islamic values or removed for no obvious reason.

“Investors won’t invest their money or products on a store that keeps censoring games,” she told Arab News. “At some point, whether games get approved to be in the store or not will be irrelevant because that store is problematic. They won’t trust it to not remove their game.”

Teenager Ahmed Baleegh also faced this dilemma. “I initially started with a Saudi account and I use it still,” he told Arab News. “But at the same time I’ve created a separate US account to get the games I can’t find on our store. Using the games in my Saudi store becomes easier once I’ve got the file downloaded.”

The General Commission for Audiovisual Media is not responsible for issues with the Saudi PlayStation store. 

Hattan Tawili, GCAM official

Baleegh said that he was forced to do this for several reasons. Games were unavailable on the Saudi store, they were cheaper elsewhere, or they were released much later than the rest of the world.

People tweeted their unhappiness about the store’s inaccurate advertisement for August releases.

@VR4Ev took part in the hashtag campaign #BoycottSaudiPlayStationStore and said: “Today is the 5th of August and I just got 1 game for my PSPlus. No ‘Fall Guys’ and no ‘MW’ and it’s not what you announced. We want to change our account region because the Saudi store is a failure.”

Saad Al-Khaldi (@SaadIbrahim6) noticed that “Fall Guys” was missing. “Believe it or not, our PS Plus Store replaced this game without any good reason. It’s obviously a kids’ game. The Evil Within 1, Resident Evil 5 and 6 are banned.”

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