Arabic Game Localization: An Overlooked Market

As we mentioned in our previous blog post in which we talked about Turkish game localization, the global gaming industry has witnessed huge growth in recent years. Most developers and publishers focus all their energy and efforts on North American, European, and Southeast Asian markets but forget one important market in the process: the Arabic gaming market.

Understanding the Arabic Language

The majority of Arabic speakers are concentrated in North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Middle East. Arabic has more than 400 million native speakers spread across more than 20 countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

arabic translationAn Introduction to the Arabic Gaming Market

In recent years, the Arabic gaming market has experienced tremendous growth. A big portion of the population in Arabic-speaking countries consists of young people, and they are quite into gaming, especially mobile gaming. There is one region that especially shines here: Saudi Arabia. In 2022, Saudi Arabia’s game revenue was more than 1 billion USD.

The gamers in Saudi Arabia are more than willing to pay for their mobile games; this is not a tendency in Europe and North America. On average, they spend 3 times more than American and European gamers. The average revenue per user (ARPU) is quite high: 270 dollars, which is the highest rate in the world. Just for reference, China –the number one country in terms of gaming revenue– has an ARPU of only 32 dollars.

How to Tap into the Arabic Gaming Market

Now comes the question of how developers and publishers can tap into this lucrative market. Well, look no further: the key to reaching Arabic-speaking countries is Arabic localization. When you localize your game into Arabic, you open the door to 400 million Arabic speakers! And since the ARPU is higher than basically any other country in the world, even if the number of Arabic speakers is not as high as that of Chinese speakers, you might see that you increase revenue by prioritizing Arabic game localization.

Key Points to Consider in Arabic Game Localization

The Arab region is incredibly attached to its culture and language, which means that localization is not just a choice, it’s a necessity when it comes to entering this market. It is also extremely important that localization is carried out considering the cultural sensitivities. Explicit sexual scenes, mentions of alcohol, nudity, etc. should be avoided even if it is present in the source text. Religion is also a very sensitive topic. Localization specialists must be careful about potential offenses to Islam.

There is also the problem of dialect. Since Arabic has more than 400 million speakers, there are many dialects. The most acknowledged and widely accepted dialect is Modern Standard Arabic, which is why the most used dialect in Arabic game localization is this one.

Of course, every language and culture has its own limitations when it comes to sensitivities around words and depictions. Yet when these sensitivities are based on religion, localization must be done even more carefully. If you are looking for ways to enter the Arabic gaming market, professional Arabic game localization is the way to go. Even if the regions you want to enter have high English proficiency levels, cultural sensitivities become a barrier on the road to success.

Written by
Ecenaz Batur
Marketing Specialist

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