We all remember waiting for the sequels of our most beloved Japanese games series. It would take years for the games to be published in the west, while in Japan, they were far ahead.
To get an idea of how difficult it was in those times, you could read about the localization of the Pac-Man game or how horrendous it was for early Sega Genesis games. The advancement of technology has made game localization a lot easier, making it a complete department in gaming companies.
There are companies that provide game localization services, from cheap automatic translation to more expensive professional translation, which has made it possible for western fans to enjoy timeless classics coming out of Japan and other non-English speaking countries. In this article today, we discuss in detail how it is done and explain how you can publish your games in English-speaking countries with the help of this guide.
What Is Game Localization?
To understand the nuances of the concept of game localization, we need to understand the underlying aspects that need to be addressed when localizing any game.
Translation – The texts and dialogue in the game need to be translated into local languages, including items in the game and even the characters’ names.
Editing – After the basic translation, context needs to be developed. Consistency is important, while terminology should correspond to the local scenario.
Proofreading – After the translation and editing are done, proofread the transcript and in-game usage.
Integration – Implementing the changes into the game’s UI/UX to allow fonts and texts to display properly. A game designed for Chinese audiences will have different bubbles than for English or Spanish speakers, for example.
Regional adaptation – Certain words and images like blood and skulls are censored by the Chinese authorities; even religious symbols can be affected. The Australian authorities don’t allow references to drugs or alcohol in games, and so on. This adaptation always needs to be addressed.
Linguistic quality assurance (LQA) – Finally, QA is done by native speakers.
The Current Game Localization Scenario in the Gaming market
Why is Game Localization Important for Your Video Game?
Apple reached a $2 trillion market cap due to its support of 40 different languages. It was the first company to do this, in August 2020. While most companies can’t match this scale of professionalism, this tells us that it is possible to generate that kind of revenue. If we look at individual markets for gaming in different countries, we can understand how important localization is.
- The US boasts 273 million internet users, generating $35 million from gaming.
- China has 900 million users, which helps them generate $36 million in revenue just from gaming.
- For Japan, it is $18 million from gaming, from 121 million users.
Important Steps When Localizing A Game:
When localizing your game for different markets, the following are some important steps every game developer needs to consider.
Planning – Plan your localization projects based on the following:
- Budgeting resources for staff and VA.
- Countries and regions for localization.
- Changes you need to make for translation.
- In-house or third-party localization
Selection of a Game Localization Company – You must decide whether you prefer to manage an in-house translation team, or whether you should hand it over to a third party.
Export and Import Your Strings – Your engine and coding should have inbuilt options to play around with some code to facilitate translation and make some adjustments for UI/UX elements.
Translation of Your Content – Choosing a translation management system for your projects based on your tasks, budget, and technical part of it.
Quality Assurance Checks – Proofreading is crucial for successful game localization at every major step. The better checks you provide to this process, the better the results.
Full Circle – Once everything is in order, share the game with local gamers behind closed doors and get their feedback on localization.
Bootstrapping and Localization Services:
As mentioned before, choosing one of these options is paramount. You have to juggle between the options of spending more time on in-house localization while saving costs, or handing your game localization services task over to a professional at an added cost but allowing you to focus more on the game and its features.
Hiring native speakers for the job is always easier and facilitates tightly coordinated handling of the project.
- Saves the cost of hiring a company
- It might take more time for proofreading and quality-checking
- You will have to build your own localization department
- Your freelancers may disappear or miss deadlines.
Video Game Localization Services
It may cost you more, but hiring a professional company makes your job that much easier and lets you focus on fixing bugs and adding features to refine your product.
- A professional setup knows everything before you even mention your requirements
- Can add more languages at short notice if needs be
- You will have your localization manager who will be aware of all the details of your project and help you prepare and update a glossary
- Obviously more expensive
To summarize the points mentioned in the article above,
- The better the quality of your game in terms of localization, the more revenue you are likely to generate.
- Improved localization helps you market your game to a massive potential pool of 2.5 billion gamers.
- Game localization requires a lot of attention, as it is a much more detailed process than some realize.
Considering these important factors is essential if you want to earn as much revenue as possible and funnel more funds into your future projects. And once you already have experience localizing a game, future localization processes will be that much easier.