Studio behind Arabic FIFA 2018 wants more localized video games

E11 Entertainment, headed by Hassan Ramli, produces audio content for the Arab World. (Courtesy E11E)
Updated 03 July 2018

Studio behind Arabic FIFA 2018 wants more localized video games

  • Hassan Ramli the CEO of E11 Entertainment (E11E) helped to localize the FIFA 2018 game for an Arab audience
  • E11E is looking for further opportunities to produce Arabic-speaking video games for the region

LONDON: With Arab football fans glued to their television sets this month, despite the exit of the region’s four flag bearers from the World Cup, one Abu Dhabi-based sound studio is profiting from the football fever sweeping across the Middle East.
Hassan Ramli, the CEO of E11 Entertainment (E11E) helped to localize the FIFA 2018 game for an Arab audience so that local fans will be able to play an Arabic version of the game featuring the voice of well-known Emirati sports commentator Faris Awad.
The game was released last September by EA Sports and sold 10 million copies in the first eight weeks.
Now E11E is looking for further opportunities to produce Arabic-speaking video games for the region.
“We have been approached by another huge name in the gaming industry. It is definitely a way to open up this market in the Arab region,” said Ramli in an interview with Arab News.
“That’s why video companies localize their games to different languages because you are opening up a new market to its full potential.
“It is in the best interests of game developers, and at same time it is a great opportunity to create more engagement with players,” he said.
The gaming industry has ballooned in the region in recent years, with as many as 578 million gamers across the Middle East and Africa according to data from Newzoo. The expansion of the market is also outpacing other regions, thanks in part to the region’s youthful demographics.
Ramli moved to Abu Dhabi four years ago from the US where he worked on various films and TV shows including “Pop Idol” and “Shrek 2”.
He spearheaded the launch of E11E’s “Game Localization Lab” last week, which aims to build on the success of the company’s work on the FIFA game.
It is positioning itself as a one-stop shop for producing and adapting audio content suitable for the Arab world. This includes translating audio, producing graphics as well as sound editing and music scoring.
“(It is) a division we just launched with a sister company that specializes in translation. Now we can offer the whole process,” Ramli said.
“A video game developer can just send us the scripts they have in English and we will be able to localize it to any accent in Arabic. We can record it, encode the files and deliver it.
“This includes even hiring talent and voice actors,” he added.
Ramli said the company’s work with FIFA has set the ‘standard’ for the type of work the company can produce.
“I am a huge FIFA fan and it was a proud moment to do FIFA because I have been playing (the game) for over 20 years. It was a very exciting project to have,” said Ramli.
He added that as well as working on sound projects with big governmental companies in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the company has also recently worked with a well-known Bollywood singer on a new movie soundtrack.
E11E is based in Abu Dhabi’s media free zone known as Twofour54, which is promoting itself as a major Middle East hub for producing media content.
“I believe what Twofour54 is doing is so valuable for the region. Definitely Abu Dhabi is becoming a very important hub for media creation. It is making it so easy for talent to come and just worry about being creative and contributing to the region,” Ramli said.
The free zone has licensed more than 550 Arabic and international media companies such as Sky News Arabia, Flash Entertainment and M&C Saatchi.


Journalists urge action against Google over EU copyright dispute

The new Google Pixelnook Go laptop is on display during a Google product launch event called Made by Google 19 on October 15, 2019 in New York City. (AFP)
Updated 27 min 19 sec ago

Journalists urge action against Google over EU copyright dispute

  • Around 800 journalists as well as photographers, filmmakers and media CEOs signed an open letter published in newspapers across Europe urging governments to ensure that Google and other tech firms comply with the new EU rule

PARIS: Hundreds of journalists called Wednesday for European officials to take action against Google over its refusal to pay media companies for displaying their content in defiance of a strict new EU copyright law.
France was the first country to ratify the law, which was passed this year and comes into force on Thursday to ensure publishers are compensated when their work is displayed online.
But Google said last month that articles, pictures and videos would be shown in search results only if media firms consent to let the tech giant use it for free.
If they refuse, only a headline and a bare link to the content will appear, Google said, almost certainly resulting in a loss of visibility and potential ad revenue for the publisher.
Around 800 journalists as well as photographers, filmmakers and media CEOs signed an open letter published in newspapers across Europe urging governments to ensure that Google and other tech firms comply with the new EU rule.
“The law risks being stripped of all meaning before it even comes into force,” the letter said, calling Google’s move “a fresh insult to national and European sovereignty.”
“The existing situation, in which Google enjoys most of the advertising revenue generated by the news that it rakes in without any payment, is untenable and has plunged the media into a crisis that is deepening each year,” it said.
The presidents of the European Alliance of News Agencies and the European Newspaper Publishers’ Association also signed the letter.

Google has countered that it benefits news publishers by sending more than eight billion visits to their websites each month in Europe alone.
“We don’t pay for links to be included in search results” because “it would undermine the trust of users,” Richard Gingras, Google’s vice president in charge of news, said in Paris last month.
But news publishers, including AFP, say such links to their websites are unable to help them cope with plummeting revenues as readers migrate online from traditional media outlets.
French President Emmanuel Macron has said Google will have to comply with the law, and the European Commission said it stands ready to assist member states, which must translate into domestic legislation by June 2021.
The new rules create so-called neighboring rights to ensure a form of copyright protection — and compensation — for media firms when their content is used on websites such as search engines or social media platforms.
“Now that disinformation campaigns are infecting the Internet and social networks, and independent journalism is under attack in several countries within the European Union, surrendering would be a catastrophe,” said the open letter.
“We call on the public decision-makers to fight back.”