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EghtesadOnline: The five most popular games played on personal computers in Iran are GTA, PES, Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, and FIFA, results of a nationwide survey say.

Conducted by the Digital Games Research Center (DIREC) in Tehran and published on its website (, the survey indicates there are 7.2 million PC gamers in Iran of which 71% are men.

There are over 28 million gamers in the country. Just like everywhere else in the world the preferred gaming platform in Iran is mobile handsets. According to data published on, 24.7 million Iranians play mobile games.

The survey talked with 8,000 people and has a 3-point margin of error. Sports, shooter, driving, action, and role-playing are the top five popular PC video game genres, according to Financial Tribune.

Despite being banned in Iran, the action-adventure video game series Grand Theft Auto (GTA) is the most popular. The first installment in the series was released in 1997 and GTA has been vastly popular since. 

Gameplay focuses on an open world where the player can choose missions to progress an overall story, as well as engage in side activities, all consisting of action-adventure, driving, third-person shooting, occasional role-playing, stealth and racing elements. 

While immensely popular with game lovers, GTA is often criticized by parents and authorities for its violent content. Officials have tried to ban the sale of the game in Iran, albeit without much success.

Even if authorities succeed in banning games, with a few clicks people can download what they want from the Internet. The widespread popularity of GTA is just one case in point.


Sports, Shooter Games

Pro Evolution Soccer, better known as PES, and FIFA are two series of association football simulation video games   released annually since 2001 and 1993. Generations of football lovers around the globe and in Iran have fond memories of playing the two series.

One of the popular games on the list is Counter-Strike (CS), a series of multiplayer first-person shooter video games, in which teams of terrorists battle to perpetrate an act of terror (bombing and hostage-taking) and counter-terrorists try to prevent it. The series began on Windows in 1999.

While the game can be played ‘solo’, most CS enthusiasts prefer to play in groups and normally online. Initially, when the game was introduced in Iran 15 years ago, due to the slow speed of the Internet, gamers were not able to play online so they gathered in gaming centers locally known as “Game Nets”, connecting computers via a local area network (LAN) and played in groups.

The custom of gathering and playing at Game Nets has survived the introduction of speedy Internet services in Iran. In and around Tehran one can find Game Nets crowded with teenagers.

Call of Duty is a first-person shooter video game franchise that started in 2003. The series began on Microsoft Windows and expanded to consoles and handhelds. Several spin-off games have been released since. Earlier games in the series are set primarily in World War II, but later games are typically premised in modern times or futuristic settings. The most recent game, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, was released in October.


Anthropological Data

The average age of Iranian PC gamers is 17.  Some 51% of the gamers are teenagers (between 12 and 19), 26%  under 12, 19% between 20 and 34, and 4% are over 35 years of age. According to DIREC, there are PC gamers over the age of 60 in Iran.

Education-wise, 73% of the gamers do not have a high school diploma, 17% have some form of academic education and 79% of the gamers live in urban areas.

Data also indicates that 91% of the players are single while 62% of the married PC gamers have kids.

Some 19% of those polled play video games every day, 61% at least every three days, and 20% every week. On average, PC gamers play for 43 minutes every day.

The report adds that 89% of the players have access to broadband Internet services. 42% of Iranian PC gamers play online.

Some 42% of those surveyed said they simply disregard the age rating of games while 25% always check age ratings.

Only 13% of the Iranian PC gamers play with computers. Some 57% play with desktop computers and 22% prefer laptops. The remaining 21% use both desktop computers and laptops for playing video games.

Laptops made by these four firms are popular with Iranian PC gamers: Asus, Lenovo, HP, and Dell.

According to an earlier survey carried out in the fiscal that ended in March 2016, only 1.2 million Iranians played video games with laptops. This number has more than doubled over the past few years reaching 3 million in March.


PC Games Market

During the last fiscal year, 691 billion rials ($6.9 million) was spent by Iranians for purchasing PC games. According to DIREC, 82% of the market or 570 billion rials ($5.7 million) was claimed by games developed by foreign studios. The numbers do not include the money spent on computer hardware by the gamers. 

During the 2015-16 fiscal, PC games market turnover was  426 billion rials ($4.26 million), indicating a 62% jump in Iranians expenditure on PC games over two years.

The report further states that Iranians spent some 523 billion rials ($5.2 million) on computer gaming accessories in the last fiscal.

Furthermore, 26% of those surveyed said they buy games or spend money on in-game purchases and the rest download pirated video games. On average each gamer spends 370,000 rials ($3.7) on PC games every year.

The 28 million gamers in Iran annually generate 9.2 trillion rials ($92 million) in revenue for the gaming market. 

The number of Iranian gamers has seen a strong 21% jump reaching 28 million in March of this year compared to March 2016 when the number was 23 million.


Iran FIFA PES PC Games Popular GTA Counter-Strike Call of Duty