Malek Teffaha: Ever since our localization started, we localized our texts and audio in modern standard Arabic, which is kind of a lesser form of the classical Arabic and less stingy on the diacritization and the glyphs. Classical Arabic is the language that is taught in school in all of the Arabic countries, it is used in the Quran and because MSA (Modern Standard Arabic) is very close to it, we can guarantee that our players from Morocco up to Iraq, Oman and Saudi Arabia can appreciate the localization efforts. However, this does not mean that we are not also looking into localizing upcoming and future titles in different accents. Mainly because modern standard Arabic carries some kind of an intonation of historical figures. We are looking at ways were our non-historical based franchises might feature more modern accents.
This type of effort is being led by our friends at Sony, which is one of the few companies to have released dubbed games in an accent completely different to what gamers are used to. Their game Detroit: Become Human was the first release to feature dubbing in the Egyptian accent.
Another non-Ubisoft title that was dubbed in non-modern standard Arabic dubbing was “Just Cause 3” which was released by Square Enix. It features the Lebanese accent in the dubbing which worked perfectly and added comedy and humor to the game. I know because my friends and I used to meet and play the game in Lebanese and laughed a lot. I also saw a really positive reaction after the launch from the Saudi Arabian and Gulf community who said that although some of the terminology was a bit weird for certain people in the Gulf and people in North Africa,they got the gist of it and it fit the comic nature of the game.
We recently had announced that The Division 2 will be launching with full localization, and had commented that the dubbing would be coming in Syrian, which was a first for video games. However, and if I am very frank, fans of the series, and gamers across the board expressed their displeasure of the change in dialects, and thankfully we were able to discuss things with the recording studio, and the developers, and revert back to MSA dubbing. We want to avoid having such a rift in the community.
So we are carefully studying and reassessing the possibility of working with accents, because we want to respect our Arabic community and we really don’t want to annoy anyone. We aim at always featuring menus and subtitles in modern standard Arabic so that everyone is able to understand.