Games Localization in The Middle East

The Middle East is one of the main important regions in the world when it comes to business. Especially in the gaming industry, the Middle East is a growing and needy market for new games whether it is available on PC, Consoles or Mobile.
In 2018, the games industry was worth 148.8 billion dollars, while in the Middle East the industry value formed 4.8 billion dollars which is 3% of the whole industry.
Senior market analyst for Newzoo, Tom wijman, stated in the dubai event, ON DXB that  the Middle East region if a very promising market and one of the fastest growing in the game industry across the world.
As a game company, you will not succeed in the Middle East game industry unless you localize your game properly with a professional company that is familiar with all the Middle East cultural norms & aspects and which can also advise and suggest valuable alternatives on how to adapt your game to the targeted market.

Video Games Localization
Video games localization is the process in which you prepare your video game and adapt it to a new target region or country. The localization objective is to create a non-confusing, enjoyable play journey for the end user or the gamer by taking care of cultural contexts without ruining the original game material.
Localizing a game is very different than localizing any other media product, mainly because it is an “interactive” piece of art that you need to be hearing, watching, and interacting with at the same time. All of these aspects need to be in harmony because if you were missing one part, the flow that the player immersed in would be broken. 
Games should be localized rather than been translated; video game localization takes care of cultural aspects and linguistic details. Saudisoft’s localization team concentrates more on localization details that will achieve gamer satisfaction to provide the best experience of the game and to ensure that the game speaks directly to the player.
Tips to consider before localizing for the Middle East Market

- About 22 countries in the Middle East consider Arabic as a mother language, a lot of business transactions are conducted in both English & Arabic languages. When you deal with Middle East countries, it is preferred that your marketing should be bilingual.
- Top spoken languages are Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Kurdish, and Hebrew. But for example, Algeria and Morocco speak French but most businesspeople in Turkey speak either English, German and/or French.
- There is a big difference between Arabic and English alphabets and pronunciations, but the biggest difference is that English is a LTR language (left to right) and Arabic is RTL (right to left). One fact about the Arabic language is that it is considered to be the fifth most spoken language in the world;
- There is a classic Arabic, which is called “Fus-ha”, used in newspapers, news and formal emails, or known as Modern Standard Arabic which is understood around the region. While the spoken Arabic called "Aamyia", or “dialect” which differs from country to country.
- Arabic, English, and French are the top languages used on Facebook, in addition Arabic is the most growing language used on Facebook in the region, with an increasing usage rate by people who prefer Arabic interface.
- Arabic language is the most growing language on Twitter, competing with other 25 languages available on Twitter.

- The weekend in most of Middle East countries is Friday and Saturday, while some countries such as Lebanon have their weekend on Saturday and Sunday.
- During religious holidays such as Ramadan, hours are cut short since there is a fasting time.

Cultural Aspects & Content Restrictions:
- There is another Calendar, the Hejri calendar that some of the Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia use. You can know more about it from here.
- There are several religions in the Middle East, with mainly Islam being the most widely followed religion, with Christianity being a predominant religion as well.
- There are many cultural restrictions when it comes to games, you can view them in more detail here.

Why You Should Localize Your Game for The Middle East Market 
Gaming Insights about the Middle East:
44% men, 31% women play video games
56% men and 48% women are playing mobile games
39% of the youth plays mobile games everyday
18-24 year old is the most age that play games with 74% in the middle east
Wide Segmentation 
64% of the UAE (United Arab of Emirates) population is younger than 30 years old and generate more than 70% of online transactions all over UAE. In addition, about 75% of Saudi Arabia residents are under the age of 30. This is an easy market to target for any gaming company and localizing your game for that market will help reach more players and ensure sustainability and game success.
Middle East Residents are Smart Phone Users
65% of Saudi Arabian citizens and 80% of UAE citizens are smartphones users. It might lighten the way for the mobile game industry targeting the Middle East because it is a piece of cake to have your mobile game succeed in this market. 

Ramadan is Peak Season for Online Retail
Ramadan is a peak season in the Middle East and almost all Muslim nations celebrate it. Their office hours are cut short and schools are off because it usually happens during summer vacation. That is a lot of free time for youth that they use in playing games to kill time.
According to Artem Rudyuk in his study about the middle east , online sales increase by 15% in UAE, 24% in KSA and 23% in Egypt during Ramadan.
Purchasing Methods
In the Middle East, people tend to pay more upon delivery rather than paying by credit card because of fraud intents. However, in 2017 payment on delivery decreased by 35% while purchasing by credit cards increased by 65%. Credit card payment has become more widespread these days and trust in online payment security measures has helped online purchasing to increase.

Increasing Sales 
Targeting the Middle East will assure boosting in sales of your games. There are millions of dollars to be reclaimed from the number of players in the Middle East.
Habib Chams, the founder of Digital Games Confrence Dubai, stated that "by experience the more localization the better the results, if your game is translated into Arabic, including some history content and some Arabic dialogues, it will boost like a star". 
Why Saudisoft
1.   Saudisoft is aware of any cultural issues your game could face, we can offer you cultural adaptation to be able to deliver the same message and story board.
2.   With over 30 years of experience and ISO 9001 and 17100 certified, Saudisoft is a trusted organization that has been in the Middle East Market since 1983. We help our international/local clients by providing translation & localization services.
3.   We specialize in Arabic, Middle Eastern such as Farsi, Urdu, Turkish and African languages and support many more. We translate millions of words into over 30 languages.
4.   Along with our studio partnerships, we ensure that we deliver the highest quality standard for audio and are able to secure the right talents for your game.
If you have any question, please leave it in the comment section below.
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