MENA Gaming Boom Drives Demand for Arabic Localization Services

Gamers from around the world will have plenty of reasons to rejoice in the next few years, including more players to compete with and localized gaming content. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the gaming market remains on pace to surpass the $5 billion mark. In response, video game developers are scrambling for Arabic localization services to make their content more palatable to regional tastes.

The Arabic Video Game Localization Feedback Loop

Several factors have contributed to the gaming boom in MENA nations, such as increased spending and more free time. However, one such factor, video game localization, has created a feedback loop that not only promotes the growth of the gaming industry but increases its momentum.

The expansion of the video game localization industry has fueled demand for new gaming content in Arabic localization as more Middle East and North African gamers gain access to high-speed internet. In turn, the creation of new gaming content to meet increasing demand requires additional localization of video game elements. 

Once game developers start localizing content from English to Arabic, they’re astounded to discover that several Arabic dialects significantly affect the localization process. There are hundreds of everyday Arabic variations and dialects, which is why it’s crucial to professionals in Arabic language localization. Classic Arabic (or the Arabic used from the Quran) is very different from Egyptian Arabic, Moroccan Arabic, or Gulf Arabic. Even though the language is Arabic, it doesn’t mean native Arabic speakers from the Middle East and North Africa will be able to understand each other’s dialect. For example, native Arabic speakers of Morocco and Iraq won’t be able to communicate with each other because of how different their languages are. 

Because of this, specialists in Arabic video game localization will have to consider the target market’s cultural and linguistic preferences. It will affect how the game will be presented, like its narration and dialogue, and how it will be marketed to its geo-targeted gamers. Discover some of the various aspects of video games that need Arabic localization services below.

Narration and Dialogue

Narration and character dialogue form the backbone of several video game genres, including role-playing, action-adventure, and massively multiplayer online games. To resonate with MENA gamers, videos games must undergo Arabic localization process that includes:

  • Dubbed narration and dialogue
  • Arabic translation of textual narration and dialogue
  • Translation of words found on in-game objects

Packaging and Digital Content

A gamer’s first impression of an upcoming video game release usually occurs through online advertising and packaging. Online cutscenes, screenshots, and artist renderings all whet the appetites of gamers before a game release. Packaging often helps consumers make a purchase decision at the point of sale. And all of this content must be localized from English to Arabic and other languages in the Middle East and North Africa. 

Instruction Manuals

Only a select few gamers read the instruction manuals, the percentage of which has decreased even lower now that most game developers favor digital manuals over printed versions. Nevertheless, the most complicated video games require instruction manuals, and MENA gamers need to be able to read them. North African and Middle East gaming companies will have to consider seeking professionals in Arabic document localization to ensure its quality.

User Interfaces

The user interface (UI) of a video game dictates how it feels while playing. In the past, many classic games have been hampered by clunky, slow UIs. Because gamers will interact with the UI every time they play a game, it needs to be localized to their specific tastes to maintain engagement and replayability. Some of the UI elements that may require Arabic game localization include:

  • Menus
  • Maps
  • Inventories
  • Skill trees
  • In-game overlays

Official Websites

When gamers have questions, they look to a video game’s official website for answers. And game developers have been retaining the services of experienced professionals in Arabic website localization at an increased pace to give gamers in the Middle East and North Africa the answers they need to troubleshoot problems and achieve their in-game goals. 

International Gaming Tournaments and Localized Travel Documents

As demand in the gaming industry in the Middle East and North Africa continues to increase, so does interest in professional gaming as a viable career path. 

In 2022, Qatar held the Middle East’s first metaverse EA Sports FIFA22 Champions Cup to promote the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Tournament participants, promoters, and spectators flocked from near and far. Many of them needed English to Arabic localization services of their vital records to secure the necessary visas. 

Also in 2022, the popular Tekken series announced the addition of North Africa as one of its stops along the Tekken World Tour. Virtual fighters from the North African region squared up against talented opponents in the following countries:

  • Morocco
  • Algeria
  • Tunisia
  • Egypt
  • Ethiopia
  • Djibouti 

Top Countries from the Gaming Industry in the Middle East and North Africa

According to Statista, Saudi Arabia continues to drive the video game industry in the Middle East and North Africa. In terms of USD, MENA nations spend the following amounts on video games each year:

  1. Saudi Arabia – $680 million
  2. Iran – $431 million
  3. UAE – $280 million
  4. Egypt – $192 million
  5. Morocco – $139 million
  6. Algeria – $107 million
  7. Iraq – $105 million
  8. Lebanon – $102 million
  9. Qatar – $85 million
  10. Kuwait – $80 million

The Future of MENA Gaming Market

Considering the estimated growth of the gaming industry in the Middle East and North Africa over the next several years, we can expect a concomitant rise in the number of MENA gamers who stream their gameplay online via Twitch, Facebook Gaming, and YouTube.

The only thing that seems to grow as fast as the MENA video game community is the digital marketplace as a whole. Streaming companies that can position themselves in front of the coming wave of MENA gaming influencers stand to reap rich rewards from advertising, endorsements, and premium memberships.

Gamers from the Middle East and North Africa should consider starting their streaming channels now so they can establish themselves as industry veterans before the peak of the current growth cycle. The gaming influencers who plan ahead will benefit from casting their nets early in anticipation of the next generation of gamers, rather than scrambling to catch up in a field that usually requires a long reputation for quality content.