By Shane McGinley
Splinter Cell publisher Ubisoft set to launch digital studio in UAE capital
the French gaming giant, will open a development studio in Abu Dhabi in a
launch expected to create more than 100 jobs, said the city’s state-backed
media zone twofour54.
publisher of gaming franchises Splinter Cell, Assassin’s Creed and
Prince of Persia will open the UAE’s first major digital gaming studio in
December, representing a “significant” investment, said Wayne Borg, chief
operating officer at twofour54.
The two companies will also team up to launch the twofour54
gaming academy, aimed at creating up to 100 industry jobs for local talent.
“We are going to look to encourage as many Emiratis to be
trained and to take up positions and there is a great opportunity for that,”
“There are a lot of gamers in the UAE and this is a
fantastic opportunity to motivate and excite young Emiratis to combine a
passion for gaming with a career opportunity.”
Ubisoft veteran Yannick Theler, who will oversee the new
studio following its launch, said the government tie-up had helped limit the
risk of the venture.
“We have a limited financial risk as the government is
working with us and we think there is a growth potential in the region,” he
Headquartered in Paris, Ubisoft is the third largest games
publisher in the world, with 23 production studios in 16 countries worldwide,
6,500 staff and global sales in the last year of €1.038bn ($1.4465bn).
Ubisoft’s biggest franchises include Assassin’s Creed, with
sales in excess of 30 million, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six and Prince of Persia,
with 23 and 17 million in global sales respectively.
Media free zone twofour54 plays host to around 135 firms -
including CNN, the Cartoon Network, CNN and Bloomberg – and expects to sign a
further 12 deals by the year-end.
“We are currently in discussions with 10 other companies we
are looking to attract here… in a number of sectors, not just in the gaming
sector,” Borg said in August.
“It’s a tough market, particularly from an advertising perspective,
but there are a lot of organisations that see that this region represents
tremendous growth opportunities.”
Arabian Business reported in May that twofour54’s media zone
might miss its completion date of 2014 after plans to build the tax-free park
in Abu Dhabi’s Mina Zayed area fell through.
The zone is currently housed in a temporary campus near
Khalifa Park, and the company was understood to be in talks to source a new
site for the permanent, 6.5 million sq ft free zone.
In August, twofour54’s investment arm ibtikar, signed
investment deals worth $2.5m with two online gaming firms.
The government-owned media firm took minority stakes in
Arabic online games companies Tahadi Games and Jawaker, in deals expected to
create tens of new jobs for local youth.