Think back ten years ago to the western industry’s dismissive laughter at the far-eastern expansion of Manga and its many variants. No-one’s laughing now, as Manga-mania sweeps across the western industry and western publishers rush to play catch-up. Will MENA be next to leave western publishing behind?
Per the press release, Saudi Arabia’s Animoca Brands, “the company advancing digital property rights for gaming and the open metaverse, and Manga Productions, the leading animations, comics, and games production company in the Middle East,” have signed an MoU “to collaborate on a range of initiatives to activate Manga Productions’ unique content in the Web3 ecosystem, grow the regional blockchain industry, and facilitate cross-access of intellectual properties.”
For MENA publishing this is significant in that it will dramatically step up the region’s engagement with the Manga and wider comics-related industry sector, and is doing so at an advanced technological level beyond the regular digital publishing stage western industry observers might expect, and indeed beyond the regular digital publishing stage much of the western industry is at.
That’s perhaps best summed up by the report that Animoca Brands will:
“Explore the feasibility of a dedicated regional game publishing platform with local partners (including Manga Productions) to bring high-quality blockchain game titles into the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region and support the global distribution of content produced by Manga Productions and other Arabian producers.
For Manga Productions, per press release:
“This partnership represents the first step toward applying blockchain technology to its comprehensive content portfolio and advancing its cultural initiatives in an interoperable virtual world.”
We already see in western publishing a disturbing level of complacency when it comes to technological innovation. Innovation is something left to others to do – Amazon, for example – and then publishers pay the price because they have no control and no vested interest.
This particular blockchain-based endeavour from Saudi Arabia may or may not be the regional gamechanger it aspires to be, and the Arab-facing content will inevitably meet challenges in the global market.
But think back ten years ago to the western industry’s dismissive laughter at the far-eastern expansion of Manga and its many variants. No-one’s laughing now, as Manga-mania sweeps across the western industry and western publishers rush to play catch-up, always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Will MENA be next to leave western publishing behind?
And this in turn is part of a broader picture of global innovation in the print-is-not-the-only-show-in-town sector that is eating into western market share both internationally and, increasingly, at home.