October 1, 2020 |
So, you want to release your video game in different countries and reach a broader audience in multiple languages? You’ll need more than video game translation to have your content accepted in international markets. You must tailor your video game experience by overcoming cultural barriers and reshaping your game to comply with each country’s entertainment content regulations.
The video game industry is highly competitive, and the demand for online games continues to rise. As the pandemic and mobility restrictions have forced people to remain indoors or socially distant from others, they’re increasingly turning to gaming.
Moreover, advancements in technology have made video games very popular among different categories of internet users worldwide. Video game market revenues are estimated to be worth about $159 billion in 2020–around three times more than the music industry. People like video games and are willing to pay good money to get the best products. In return, they expect excellent game experience and top customer service.
The trick is to be aware of how the demand has evolved in the last decade, generating a new business model in which quality beats quantity and in-game monetization is more popular than ever before.
The challenge for developers is to meet the expectations of two different categories of gamers: hardcore fans and newbies who don’t know how the video game market looked like back in the 90s. They have different expectations from online games, and finding a balance can become a difficult task when looking to tailor your video game experience for international markets.
Last but not least, entering a new market and building awareness has become more and more difficult. Over one million video games are now available for gamers to choose from. As if that wasn’t enough, you’re competing against social media, streaming platforms, and several other forms of entertainment that keep your audience away from your product. This means that you need to provide excellent game experience to cut through the noise and make your game noticed.
Video game localization means creating multilingual versions of your game to match local audiences. The trick is to go beyond a simple translation to overcome cultural barriers that could limit a gamer’s understanding of your game.
Ignoring the cultural context makes it complicated for gamers to understand the game’s narrative and get involved in it. If gamers don’t know what makes the character behave differently, it becomes impossible for them to enjoy the game. Addressing cultural factors, such as faith, mentality, socially accepted norms, or politics, is essential for a video game’s success in international markets.
In other words, you need to recreate parts of the dialogues, scenes, and narrative to make players feel as if the game has been created in their native language. For instance, many characters in Asian video games receive Western names during the localization process. This change makes it easier for European or American gamers to connect with the character genuinely and feel they belong inside the game. Small elements, such as customized coffee cups or gift boxes that look like the ones gamers use in real life, can help users identify themselves with the characters.
You want people to understand why things happen in your game and get involved in the narrative. However, too many changes risk generating a fake product that doesn’t look like the original game anymore. You need a team of video game localization specialists to make your game appealing and authentic across multiple cultures and languages.
Both marketing and customer service are essential when looking to tailor the game experience to international markets. If you don’t localize your marketing correctly, you risk not achieving the visibility you need to capture your public’s attention. Or, you attract the wrong audience and don’t see the engagement you expected. Either way, it can have disastrous consequences on localization ROI.
On the other hand, customer service that doesn’t meet the public’s expectations can also result in a bad reputation in local markets, lower sales, and many lost opportunities to monetize your game. As much as 40 percent of support requests come via in-game chats, and players expect to get answers in the language version they’re playing. If players don’t get the answers they need or get them in a language that they’re not comfortable using, your localization efforts will be lost in translation, too.
The quality of the video game translation is vital when you want to target game experience. Translations that generate confusion or dialogues that sound unnatural can ruin the atmosphere in seconds and impact your business.
Gamers might laugh at first, but they aren’t going to appreciate the game in the long run. Before you know it, entire gamer communities find out about your translation failures, and screenshots from your game become viral memes.
One of the most critical rules when targeting international markets is respecting legal guidelines. Countries like South Korea, Russia, and even Australia, have rigid rules for entertainment content. You may have to rewrite characters and eliminate violent scenes to comply with age restrictions and have your game rated correctly.
Some gamers call it censorship and complain that games lose authenticity while rewritten to comply with legal requirements. However, without these changes, you can’t sell your games in specific countries. When you plan localization projects, you need to know what content is suitable for each country right from the start to avoid complications and additional costs.