Gamers got their Star Wars fix in November with the latest Star Wars: Battlefront game hitting the shelves, four weeks before Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiers in December. And one of the biggest talking points is the Arabic localisation that publisher EA worked into the game.
It follows a trend of new games being released with Arabic localisation – including the Witcher 3, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and Just Cause 3.
Does this demonstrates a permanent change of focus for the video games publishers?
The Witcher 3’s Arabic localisation was also a hot topic. IGN.com even probed the game creators for more info about their decision to target Arabic markets and PR Consultant Fabian Doehla described it as the ‘logical next step’ for The Witcher franchise.
“We want to grow,” he told IGN.com. “Not only the game, by making it bigger and making it an open world game, but we want to reach a bigger audience.”
“It’s just the logical next step… especially because the game is very story and quest heavy, it will be kind of useless if you don’t have it localised, because a lot of people will be left out,” he added.
It might have been a logical next step, but the decision to localise into Arabic wasn’t without it’s challenges. For example; they had to re-program entire parts of the game to accommodate the right-to-left nature of Arabic text for the menus and subtitles!
Localisation is expensive, and it’s not year clear whether this investment in the Arabic language version has paid off for The Witcher publisher CD Projekt Red.
Perhaps both EA and CD Projekt Red are testing the waters? This would also explain the absence of Arabic voice acting in either title.The localisation effort with Star Wars Battlefront only adds Arabic menus and subtitles and it could be a while yet before we see games released with localised Arabic dialogue.
Despite the lack of Arabic voice acting in the game, the effort to expand accessibility to one of the globe’s largest markets is a huge demonstration of incentive by one of the leading players in the games industry.
The gaming industry has a long way to go, to reach a truly global audience, it’s still heavily focused on the US, UK, Japan and Europe but with a big title like Star Wars Battlefront including Arabic as a key priority language, could we see the audience grow?
At Matinée we hope to be producing more Arabic voice-overs for games in the near future – watch this space!