Abu Dhabi : From the boxing ring to multi-million dollar endorsements for Nike and HP, boxer Manny Pacquiao has now expanded his interests to the gaming industry.
A new game — available for downloads on the iPhone and iPad — lets gamers assume Pacquiao's fighting instinct, except that there, he is a martial arts master out to save the world.
Barely a month and more than 6,000 downloads later, Abu Dhabi-based video game developer Karkadann Games is now racing to develop the Android version of Manny Pacquiao: Pound for Pound and a sequel.
"The game has gone through multiple design and artistic iterations over the past ten months from its pre-production in February 2011," said David Ortiz, general manager of Karkadann Games. "Since then we have worked closely with two teams along with a core team of four game developers based in Abu Dhabi."
But why Pacquiao in 3D? "He is currently one of the most influential and popular international superstars. Manny is a diverse individual with a career in many industries, including entertainment, politics and sports," Ortiz said.
"We strongly believe a game dedicated to Manny would generate a lot of traction internationally."
Ortiz said the company has acquired rights to use Pacquiao as a character in the game, and that it has been officially endorsed. "Manny has been involved with the game since we signed the deal with him and he is very excited about the game," he added.
"The game has undergone a lot of changes in design and artistic style. However, these are just part of the expected challenges involved in developing any high-profile game centred on a licence that carries a strong name."
A survey in the US of nearly 1,200 youths eight to 18 years old revealed that on average teenage girls spend up to play eight hours of video games a week, while boys put in 14 hours. Experts expect results in the UAE would be no different.
According to Omar Jamal, art director for Pound for Pound: "I had to study reference images from Manny Pacquiao and I needed to have an understanding of who he is as a person and what his background is to be able to give an authentic personality to his character and the set of the environments."
Sports celebrities becoming product endorsers are common, and Manny Pacquiao is no exception. He recently signed one for State Street Produce, the largest vegetable distribution company in the US, according to the news network ABS-CBN. The product, called ‘Pacquiao Produce', bears his image on the packaging. This year, Pacquiao also signed a deal to endorse ‘Manny Padala Card', a money-remittance scheme for Filipinos in the US.
His endorsement income is believed to make up a bulk of the $25 million in earnings he raked in this year, putting him in the 24th slot in Forbes' 2011 list of the world's highest paid celebrities.