Best Practices for Game Localization: To the First Press of the Start Button
The gaming industry managed to gain more recognition in these recent years, opening brand new opportunities for game developers worldwide. The following numbers solidify the fact that the global game industry is a growing, dynamic market with guaranteed results, in case you follow the best-proven approaches and adopt the best practices for game localization, which are the key to entering a new game market:
- According to Mordor Intelligence, the global game industry revenue reached $173.70 billion in 2020 and is estimated to be worth $314.40 billion in 2026.
- According to Statista, the global video game market was estimated at $138.4 billion in 2021.
- According to Statista, there were 3.24 million gamers worldwide in 2021.
This post could be a particular benefit for you if you’re a game developer or publisher who intends to make a splash with your game in a new market. Everything you want to know about game localization has been collected and listed in this thorough guide, from the definition and importance of game localization services to the best practices for game localization and the uppermost gaming markets.
Table of Contents:
- What Is Game Localization?
- The Focus of Localization Process
- An Example of Bad Game Localization Approach
- What Is the Importance of Game Localization?
- Best Practices for Game Localization
What Is Game Localization?
Game localization is all about tailoring a game’s experience to match the target audience’s tastes and thoughts as if it’s made specifically for them and for a region that differs from the place of the game’s origin. Besides the linguistic and cultural adaptation, the process of video game localization involves technical decisions, mirroring the game’s interface in an optimum way to accommodate the content changes and suit the gamers’ preferences
Game Culturalization/Localization = The process of creating a new version, localized version, of a game for a different locale and players’ base!
If you think that localizing a video game is a one-step process, then you miss the point of the whole idea of video game localization services. The localization process includes much more than translating the in-game dialogues or the on-screen text from the source language to the target language. It focuses on three fundamental aspects:
- In-Game Story Aspect
To build a fanciful gaming world for your gamers, you have to pay attention to the in-game story elements, such as the characters’ and locations’ names. Besides the translation of the game content, sometimes, the localization team exhaustively changes a character name to be directed and acceptable to the target audience. For instance, “The Witcher” Polish version required a complete alteration of the names of the leading characters.
- Technical Aspect
To dive into the targeted gamers’ imagination and pull them towards your game’s fantasy, you can’t overlook the technical aspect of the localization process. This stage is all about ensuring the highest possible functionality and usability of your game. From establishing high-quality graphics and managing text expansion and contraction to maintaining an optimized and fast-performing user interface, all the technicalities will be taken care of at this phase.
- Marketing Aspect
Embracing marketing localization will aid you in breaking into the target market with confidence. At this step, game localization companies localize your entire brand and its digital presence, including websites, social media campaigns, video content, announcements, press releases, and more to attract more gamers from the targeted location.
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An Example of Bad Game Localization Approach
Have you ever heard of the infamous Japanese game ‘Zero Wing’ phrase “All your base are belong to us.” before? It’s plain to see that it was mistranslated to English; it was supposed to be: “All of your bases are now under our control.” At that instant, in 1990, this phrase went viral through media means and internet forums. And, Some people have even printed it onto their T-shirts. A total flop, isn’t it?
What Is the Importance of Game Localization?
And speaking of venturing into game localization, it goes without saying that increasing sales is the most anticipated benefit of game localization. But, there are other vital reasons to invest in game localization services that contribute to and shape your presence in the targeted regions, which will indirectly/directly impact your ROI. Before delving into the best practices for game localization, let’s look at the benefits of getting expert game localization solutions.
Approved Games (Shielded from Bans)
It’s likely to get banned from entering some local markets if you don’t conform to their regulations and rules. If you don’t attach importance to approaching a game localization project with a complete understanding of the region’s specific, unique rules, you’ll, unfortunately, end up with a dead end. The “Last of Us” game (part 2) is a good case in point. It got banned in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates due to non-compliance with their religious beliefs and traditions.Â As a big company in the gaming industry, you’ll never be excluded from this rule. You’ll have to know the targeted country’s regulations like the back of your hands. If you choose the route of overlooking the rules, don’t expect to smoothly sail through the whole releasing process in the targeted market. For instance, the popular game “Grand Theft Auto” (GTA), the second best-selling game worldwide, got banned in many countries, such as Thailand, Pakistan, Venezuela, South Africa, and Argentina, because of its mature content that doesn’t fit in with these societies.
Precise, Vision-Oriented Experience Delivery
How to attain the balance between delivering a precise yet vision-oriented game experience without deviation from your pre-planned course? Through high-quality game localization! Without it, your game will turn out to be a big failure in the global markets even if you achieve success in your local market. Modifying your game to fit in a new market while not changing the core is a challenging task that requires a high level of experience in game localization to avoid delivering a poor game experience to the targeted audience. For instance, in some cases, your game localization provider may discuss modifying or replacing in-game scenes with others that are more convenient to your new gamers but that are as effective as the original.
It’s a simple equation: splendid game + expert game localization = brand recognition! If you want to establish your name in a new market, investing in professional localization services is all you have to do. Many game companies booked their place within the global gaming market competition by embracing the best practices for game localization. To demonstrate the point, Ubisoft Entertainment (the creator of Assassin’s Creed) has gained an extensive presence in the Middle East by prioritizing game localization.
Best Practices for Game Localization
Finally, we’ve reached the long-awaited point, the best practices for game localization. We’d be lying if we said that the game localization process is a duck soup. In fact, it’s a mountain to climb if you do it all by yourself. But, working hand-in-hand with a localization services provider, who is well-acquainted with cutting-edge game localization tools and understands your vision and targeted market’s culture and linguistic needs, and with a deep understanding of the best practices for game localization will save you the trouble.
Here are 7 best practices for game localization that you need to learn before starting your game localization project:
- Make Your Code Accessible : When writing your game’s source code, it’s critical to facilitate the coming step of extracting and importing text and language elements into your code by avoiding hard code.
- Don’t Embed Text Into Pictures : You’ll give your localization team or provider a hard time if you place text over your game’s pictures. By having this in mind, every step will run smoothly during the localization phase resulting in a much faster process.
- Go Over the Source Code : Inspecting the source code is pivotal to finding out the starting point of a localization project. It shows you where exactly you stand and your destination. Maybe the code comes with some obstacles that you have to know from the beginning to tackle correctly.
- Provide Context for the Localization Team : It’s necessary that you, as a game developer, keep your localization team in the loop about every single detail of your game so that they can develop a clear understanding of the game, including its storyline and characters. While you may be hesitant to trust your provider with your game data, it’s imperative that every localization team member understands your project comprehensively to ensure reliable results. Also professional translation and localization services providers usually have strict confidentiality policies in place to protect your project information.
- Don’t Overlook the Cultural Aspect : Everything starts with comprehending the target market’s culture. Game localization is fruitful when culture is injected. The translation team should be able to choose the right dialect for your audience, for instance. They should also be able to capture the nuances and subtleties of the culture, both in terms of the language, such as slang terms and swearing, and in terms of visual elements, such as graphics and symbols.
- Use the Right Translation Management Tools : Translation management tools make all the difference for your project. Accordingly, investing in quality translation software is a crucial step.
- Test After Localizing : It’s by no means possible to fulfill a localization project successfully without testing on the targeted devices after localizing. You will end up with a useless game version (even if it’s localized perfectly) if it’s not working on your gamers’ devices.
Now, you have been armed with the most ultimate weapon: “Knowledge.” Enter any game localization approach confidently, trusting in your capabilities to lead you the way to globalization. And consider having a professional language provider by your side; this will shorten the road to your goal, which is receiving expert, reliable game localization services.
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