More about Game Power 7 and cultural hurdles

Here at IncGamers, we've got the scoop on the latest localised Arabic MMO.

You would have seen it in the news, but now we've got an exclusive on the title that will be coming fully localised for the Middle Eastern region.

Speaking to Fadi Mujahid of Game Power 7, the Dubai based publisher and developer, we look at how bringing an Arabic specific title to a region that isn't particularly known for its gaming will be recieved.

1. Do we have any idea of what the game is going to be called?
General Screenshot
The game is a localized version of Rappelz, the successful game from NFlavor. Our localized name is "Rappelz: Hope of Nations" ??? ??????

This game will be the first MMORPG game localized and published in the MENA (Middle East & North Africa) region.

Rappelz2. Will the game have an Arabic IP? So will it be something like the Arabian Nights, or is it something that is completely different?

As the game is a localized and culturalized version of a global MMO game, it does not contain Arabic IP, but rather we redesigned the game characters and story plot in order to fit our culture. In this regards, we own shared rights along with NFlavor to the new character design IP.

3. When people think of the Middle East, they don't really think of games, or games development. Have games, especially MMO games, got an audience there?

Games are very popular in the Middle East among kids and youth. In many Middle Eastern countries, attending Internet cafes is a major part of youth culture. The major activity practiced at Internet cafes is playing multiplayer games of all genres: FPS, Sports, Strategy, and little MMO. However, due to the absence of MMO game publishers in the region, these types of game lacks an audience. Game publishers play two major roles in the case of MMOs: (1) Game localization and culturalization, and (2) MMO concept promotion and marketing. Our aim is to serve game developers by offering them these roles.

4. Which are more successful: conventional video games with consoles, PC games or MMOs?

Of course, and for the reasons mentioned above, conventional games of all genres and types are more successful.
The absence of MMO Game publishers in the region have resulted in the state of unawareness about the concept of MMO Gaming.
Many gamers in the region have no idea that there is a genre of games where you "live" at, play and interact with thousands of others, and improve your "game life" as you play your way through.

5. Talk to us more about localising an MMO for a very focused audience? Do you think enough people will play an Arabic MMO? Isn't half the fun of English language MMOs that you learn the language too?

Global publishers of MMOs have come to the conclusion that localization is a major success factor for MMOs. Look at World of Warcraft in China as an example: less than 400K players before the localization, and more than 5M players after the localization. Numerous other examples prove the importance of not only game localization, but also game culturalization as major success factors for publishing MMOs. Rappelz

When we started our work a year ago, we conducted a survey of MMO gamers in the region. The study aimed to study MMO gamers profiles and their gaming trends. Most of the gamers we surveyed used the language we called "Arablish" (Arabic words using English characters) while chatting with other Arab gamers during the game. So, why wouldn't they use English?

We believe that most MMO Gamers "live" their games rather than merely playing it, and thus, like to feel comfortable while in the game rather than try to learn English.

6. When are we expecting to see the game go into beta?

Our initial plan is to start the first CBT mid of November. If things go as planned, we expect the commercial release to be beginning of 2009.

7. Talk to us a little bit about Game Power 7. Where were you founded, how long have you been doing games, and how is it all going?

Game Power 7 is a developer and publisher of online games and related digital contents. We started our business November 2007 as the first company in the Arab World to specialize in the business of MMO games and online entertainment, in specific, and gaming business in general.

RappelzGame Power 7 is a subsidiary of Weiss Investment, a leader in media business in the MENA and Southeast Asia regions, thus holding more than 20 years of media experience that is sensitive to the region's cultural values.

We are exploiting our heavy experience in content localization and culturalization to add much needed value to our gaming business.

Starting a business where no other has touched before is very risky and costly. We had to build our business plan based on our resources, without being able to rely on any research or statistics. Most game developers refused to share this adventure with, and thus we had to work very hardly to find and convince them.

Luckily, our vision is solidifying, and time will teach us whether or not it was correct.

8. Will you be looking to expand out of MMOs and into other genres?

Our vision is to service the whole spectrum of gaming industry in the region, which includes game development, game publishing, and digital game content publishing. Our short-mid term plan is to focus on MMO Games and game content digital publishing.

High rates of game piracy in the region is a major barrier for conducting business in offline gaming genres.

9. In the UK there have been a lot of studies into how video games affect children and their development, ranging from content to parental control. How are games perceived in the Middle East in what is mainly a traditionally conservative family unit?

Very important question indeed. As a member of Weiss Investment group of companies, we have a tradition of preserving family and cultural values of our audience, and Game Power 7 will operate no differently throughout the processes of selecting, culturalizing, and operating the games. Rappelz

In addition to content, MMO Games hold another high risk for young gamers: Addiction. We are conducting a survey and thorough research to find the optimal method for protecting our gamers from such risk, while preserving the gaming experience and fun.

In addition, we have established a Corporate Social Responsibility unit which is in direct contact with the customers and parents in order to receive their complaints and suggestions.

10. Wall-E was released in Arabic earlier this year, and it was the first language localised game for the region. Do you think more games would benefit and be successful, if not more successful if they came as Arabic titles?

The Arabic MMO gaming market is an untouched market with a lot of potential. Early market comers will be facing major challenging publishing and servicing their games in the region, while at the same time hopping to be the success pioneers. The only way to know is to wait and see.

Game developers from now on will have an aggressive partner that advices them on the feasibility of publishing their games in the market, and the optimal way of doing so.

Thank you for your time.

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