Help lift Gaming Tech Sanctions Against Lebanon (RESOLVED)
Editorial Update: Today 17-03-2017 Epic Games enabled the support of Lebanon !
This is great news, thanks Epic for listening and thanks everybody for your support.
All we need is to be a little proactive in the right direction to solve our issues.
The video gaming industry in the world is currently blooming and we in Lebanon are sadly missing out on big chunks of it.
For a country whose workforce and university graduates is made up of a lot of tech savvy individuals this is not acceptable.
The amount of daily wasted potential to make serious profit and create more job opportunities is simply staggering for a tiny country with no natural resources and who is dying to make a buck.
And we are not missing out because we don’t have the individual talent, we are missing out because of some ambiguous trade sanctions imposed on us that seem to be met with little to no resistance from our governments and i shall dare say even universities and tech companies.
Everyone is aware of the Paypal drama and how much profit we are seriously missing out on by not having Paypal support lebanon for simple ecommerce. Paypal made it very easy for people to trade online and make profit yet this ease of use has yet to reach us for one reason on another. I don’t know what the actual reason is for this, but its unacceptable. Whoever is behind this problem be it the local banks and/or government not figuring out how to properly tax things are costing us alot in terms of wasted business IT opportunities.
Currently there is also a new issue in the horizon coming and this time in the form of the blooming gaming industry that might not reach us fully.
Once reserved for big companies who can afford the software tools that once cost millions, the gaming industry is now becoming fully ‘indie’ friendly with those same tools made available to small teams and individuals to make games with for little to no money upfront.
Unreal Engine, Unity 3d, Cry Engine, Corona SDK, Cocos2d, Marmalade SDK, Starling, are all now either free or ask you for just a penny to acquire a license.
All that is great news for anyone willing to put the effort, talent and time needed to create good content that serious and casual gamers from around the global market would be willing to spend money on.
Candy Crush, Flappy bird, Gears of War, Starcraft, Dota, Assassin Creed.. big or small, good games will generate revenue as they tend to their serious and/or casual gamer audience properly.
That’s really great news for individuals and countries like lebanon which now has sudden access to a multi billion dollar market and a ripe workforce of developers to plunge into it.
All good except for the fact that this access is still inhibited in many ways due to vague and outdated trade/tech sanctions that might not actually apply fully.
Case in point Unreal Engine 4, one of the most famous game engines around, recently announced it was becoming free to use to create games with, requiring only a 5% royalty fee.
But on the other hand, the parent company of Unreal called Epic Games is so far refusing to give lebanon full access to its technology and business model, city existing sanctions in place against lebanon over business and technology.
They even blocked IPs originating from lebanon to their site recently.
Here is the link of me contacting them about this issue on their Q&A webpage:
I took some time to google down the USA sanctions against Lebanon and found this document:
I’m no legal expert but from what i understood the sanctions apply to individuals on the American blocked list (SDN) for which transactions are prohibited.
I don’t see any reference to sanctions against the whole of the lebanese population.
I contacted the American embassy in lebanon by email asking them for their clarification on this if possible. I’ll update the article based on their reply as well when i receive it.
We as developers are in no position to debate the existence of sanctions, this part is for the lebanese government to tackle, but we are obliged investigate to see if american companies are mistaken when they cite the sanctions and block certain gaming software.
We must do our part to remove obstacles that impede us from tapping into the blooming game market if we can.
For the record other big companies like Microsoft sell their licenses normally in lebanon to companies and individuals alike, while Google also supports merchant accounts based in lebanon to which it transfers money revenue from ads and online sales without issues.
I noticed a similar reference to ‘sanctions’ on Starling’s game framework, where in-app purchase modules are blocked for lebanon:
There is a trend here that is going to cost us.
So this is a call for national effort to help open the gaming industry’s potential to all of us.
When we make revenue generating games, the government makes tax profit and we create more stable job opportunities.
We are not asking for start-up funds or 24/7 electricity or half decent internet, (which would be nice to be honest) we are just asking for the minimal effort to unblock the tools we need to be part of this global industry.
-Politicians, especially government ministers, please take a look at this matter and have your staff assess it further. I tweeted to Mr Boutros Harb our current Information Minister but i am yet to receive a reply. Ministers if you cant remove/edit the sanctions at least help us to identify when they don’t apply and help us communicate this message to the affected foreign companies or their government.
-Tech people, please share any blocked game creation content that cite sanctions and do contact the game tools companies and ask them to unblock it or clarifications.
-Lebanese Americans, as dual American citizens you could try to help us by contacting your embassy or elected officials in America.
-Social media people, do help us by starting a media campaign to help unblock critical technologies we need in lebanon to bloom and spread awareness of this, we can use your help with hashtags as much as Lady Gaga’s pet cats and dresses 😛
Guys i don’t have the solution for this, this must be a community effort.
But we must put in the effort.
We can’t give up or pretend its not our problem, it is our problem.
There is a golden opportunity we must take while the market allows it.
We missed out on Paypal we can’t also miss out on the newly accessible indie game market.
That said thanks for taking the time to read this lengthy geeky article.
Let me know your ideas for what we can do to help out more in the comments bellow.