A crazy article was published earlier this week on the UAE’s The National stating that game and software piracy in Oman is ‘resurfacing’. The article interviews a random Omani game shopkeeper who claims according to his own statistics that young people in Oman spend a total of a million Omani rials on pirated software on monthly basis. According to his statistics, the local economy loses 30 to 40 million rials a year because of pirated software.
There is no doubt that these stats are completely rubbish. The small time shop keeper somehow assumes that ‘young people’ go and buy physical disks to pirate their games and movies, when in reality the majority of illegal downloading obviously occurs over the internet and does not require young people to spend a 1,000,000 Omani rials.
The justifications made by this person for the ‘resurfacing’ of piracy are not only illogical, but they are simply false because expats can still work in computer shops and do sell computer games and software.
Being an honest gamer who buys legitimate games is very difficult in Oman, original games take months to arrive and when they do they are usually sold at astronomical prices. The article itself claims that it does not make sense for young people to pay RO 40 when the pirated copy costs RO 1. The truth is that even honest gamers find it unreasonable to pay RO 40 (more than $100) when the same exact disc is sold in the states for a MAXIMUM of $60.Â Many gamers, including myself, choose to buy grey area imports and have it shipped from the US for a cheaper price, than buying the grey area imports sold in these stores for double the price.
I am really not sure that piracy in Oman is ‘resurfacing’ – because it really never went down. In the age of digital piracy and bitTorrent, the only solution to the problem would be through educating people about the impact piracy has on our own culture and economy. It is no wonder that there are no game developers in Oman when it is impossible to make profit of any game in this market.