Experts expect the combined revenue of video game markets in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to increase nearly twofold — from $1.76 billion in 2021 to $3.14 in 2025 — in the next three years.
That’s likely to be big news for professionals working in the localization industry, especially given Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s policies encouraging game development and localization.
This month, Niko Partners, a market research and consulting firm specializing in the local video gaming industries of Asian countries, published what the company claims to be the first major report of the video gaming industry in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. The report mainly focuses on Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt (a group of countries the company refers to as MENA-3), however the firm also includes data from other Arabic-speaking countries in North Africa, as well as Jordan and the Gulf States.
“Governments in the region are supportive of the video game sector,” Niko Partners writes in a recent blog post. “Saudi Arabia and the UAE have introduced policies to encourage game localization, local game development, new studios and offices of international game companies, and hosting major esports tournaments.”
The countries that make up the MENA-3 region have a particularly large population of video game players — Niko notes that there are more than 65 million gamers throughout the region, and projects that this number will increase to 85.8 million in 2025. Niko reports that this could be due to the fact that roughly half of the region’s population is under the age of 25.
According to the report, the respective governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE have both made efforts to stimulate the gaming economy by implementing policies that support game localization and the development of local games. While Niko did not disclose any financial projections regarding game localization in particular, the increased population of gamers and video game revenue in the region is likely to trigger increased demand for video game localization in and around the region.
Localizing games for Arabic-speaking countries presents a set of challenges that other languages may not — according to Bolingo Communications and Media Consult’s guide to localizing products for the Egyptian market, the characters of the Arabic alphabet take up around 25% more space than those of the Latin alphabet, meaning video game localizers for Arabic will have less space for a given text than, say, those working with Spanish or French.