OCT. 25, 2011 • Abu Dhabi was chosen as the location for the latest of Ubisoft’s development studios, set to open in December. Yannick Theler, a 10-year veteran with the publisher, will head the new studio. In addition to creating games, the Abu Dhabi operation will also train local talent in cooperation with twofour54, Ubisoft’s media partner in the venture.
Impact: A lot of lip service is paid to the potential growth prospects of the Middle Eastern region as a video game market. Low overall household incomes, plus spotty broadband access have tended to dampen interest in the Middle East. But the growth of the free-to-play model is a game changer. Ubisoft is betting investment Euros that the region has a promising future. While not first to the party, Ubisoft is early enough to reap the benefits when games do take off. Working with in-country developers also helps head off any cultural landmines.