February 25, 2021 | News
The video game market has been steadily growing and, according to Statistica, is on track to reach a value of more than $200 billion by 2023. Yet, while the English-speaking US, UK, and Canada all make the top-10 list when it comes to gaming revenues, video games are also big business in plenty of non-English speaking countries as well, including China, Japan, South Korea, and Germany.
This means that, if you want to maximize your profits by reaching a wider audience, you’ll need to localize your video game for different markets. In this article, we’ll take a look at what video game localization is, why it matters, and how you should go about it to achieve your goals.
As you’re probably aware by now, localization goes beyond translation in that it considers every element of your text or product to ensure that it fits a different cultural audience. So, while you’ll need to get your video game dubbed or subtitled, depending on your audience’s preferences, you’ll also need video game localization to ensure that the game feels as if it was designed for that particular region.
It’s a multifaceted process that involves many different steps and team members – from translators and project managers to developers and vendor managers. Video game localization includes preparing your software (or hardware) or the foreign market in question and adapting the dialogue and characters (where necessary) to make them more appealing and resonate better with the target audience.
You may also need to create new packaging or marketing materials to accompany your game and promote it to a new market as well as translate your legal texts and disclaimers to ensure that they comply with local laws and regulations.
It may seem like a lot of work, but localizing your video game will help you unlock revenues outside of your domestic market and increase your market share. It can also help to boost your brand name and stay relevant in a highly competitive arena.
This is definitely not the place to cut corners. Ignore cultural differences at your peril or opt for machine translation if you want your game to tank in new markets. Even small mistakes in translation or design can turn your audience away. The bad translation hall of fame is literally cluttered with poorly localized video games that created a low-quality image of their product and quickly lost the attention of their audience.
To ensure the success of your video game localization project, you should work with a professional full-service translation and localization company. They can provide you with translators who are not only fluent in the original and target languages but are actual gaming enthusiasts who understand how gamers speak.
This is known as the “language of gaming,” which often involves using lexical terms that make no sense to anyone outside of the industry. When it comes to video game localization, you’re really talking to a target niche and you need specialized translators who are comfortable with this type of language.
General translators may not be able to deliver a product that feels authentic to a gaming audience. Translators who are specialized in localizing video games know about social rules and communication norms, and will have a deep understanding of your target audience.
Remember that quality content is vital in order to create a much more immersive gaming experience that will keep your audience engaged – and sell more copies of your game. The richer your characters and deeper the narratives, the more hooked your audience will become.
Game translators will often use a technique called transcreation to deliver the very best version of a game in a new language. This means that they may rewrite parts of the story in order to deliver the same message in a local language to ensure that it speaks to users on an individual level.
Experienced video game translators can even help you to modify and enhance characters so that they are more appealing and culturally appropriate for your audience. This will allow gamers in your target market to interact seamlessly with the game, as if it were created in their language, not merely translated for them.
While many gamers around the world may not speak English as their first language (or even at all), they may still be willing to play a game in English. They will likely be able to feel their way around the game and understand the words because of the context and their familiarity with video games.
They may also be able to look up answers to their questions on forums and chat groups.
This is no replacement for a fully immersive localized version of your game. But, unless you’re planning to commit the time and resources to localize your video game well, it’s probably better not to localize at all.
There really are no resources that can explain bad translations to gamers and a poor translation will ruin the gaming experience, lose customers, and create a bad image of your company globally.
There are an estimated 2.7 billion gamers in the world – more than a quarter of the world’s population. Successful localization can connect your video game with a massive audience. So if you want to grow your brand, expand your market share, unlock revenue streams, and gain a global foothold in 2021, it’s time to localize!