All You Need to Know about Game Localization

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Game Localization

Games have been a part of the entertainment world for a long time now. Games beguile gamers all over the world to spend time in front of the screen fighting or battling their way for whatever magic is created for the players. 

The gaming industry is growing rapidly and many companies are launching their games in multiple lucrative markets. Here, it is important to understand that not all players are English speakers nor are all bilinguals. Surprisingly the most active game players reside in Japan, Europe, and South America. Usually, the US-based game studio releases several weeks earlier to the native market than it does in the foreign market. That’s because games need to be localized, converted into the local version in the target language, to target the right players in the new market. The conversion from the source language to the target language takes a lot of time.

Before you move ahead, take a look at a short history of the video games to its growth

Video games rose in popularity in the 1980s but the viability of the gaming industry was still questionable. The first game appeared in 1972, Magnavox Odyssey Video Game Unit, a commercial home video game console. 

With time, the gaming industry got the taste of Mario. Kids of the 80s and 90s loved this video game as it was super friendly and fun. If you think of it, the Super Mario games were the game icon for many. It became the new computer game for the century. Sony launched the PlayStation, an early form of 3D graphic and in recent years Microsoft launched Xbox, Nintendo launched GameCube, and so on. 

Localization is not only in terms of language. For the gaming industry, the change of technology, a shift from console to a smartphone is an example of localization also.  Since 2012, game localization services have grown proficiently. Silently taking over the world of the global entertainment industry, but its games are still categorized into three main categories to date;

  • PC gaming 
  • Console gaming 
  • Mobile gaming

This reminds us that with the increasing processing power, localization became one of the vital parts of the game to reach their target audience.  The western gaming market is all about the console, while the Chinese market is mobile-based. This is yet another set of examples of how consoles are being replaced by smartphones.

The need for game localization – why games must be converted according to the local market

Localization is beyond a regular translation of the text. It involves quality, testing the integration of translated text, cultural adaptation according to the specific region, and so on. 

Some games are rated R for the violence; whereas in China, blood, skulls, or religious symbolism aren’t allowed. Similarly, in Australia, the use of alcohol or drugs in video games is banned. Such cultural nuances are removed by localizing the video games to the point where it can be arranged and sold in the target market. 

If you think it’s enough to have a videogame available only in one language, you are mistaken,  it’s not. The more multilingual your game is the wider audience it will have. Besides game localization offers numerous benefits:

  • Imprints the worldwide audience and gives access to the millions of new users. 
  • A great in-line completion with the competitors
  • Tap into virgin markets to explore new markets and create a demand 
  • Better communication (increased interaction) means a better understanding of the target audience. 
  • Preserves the tone and sensibility of the content

3 Basic things to remember about the game localization

1. Start localization with the basics

Keep things simple; change the name of the characters, titles, names of places and weapons, etc. Every minute, simple detail counts the most in the game. According to the native market, you can even develop new characters and change the existing ones entirely, such as the beauty of localization.  

The reason why translation is not the only appropriate choice is that it lacks the cultural understanding of metaphors. This affects the translation process and quality that can negatively impact the user experience. To make your game engaging and user-friendly, special attention to cultural aspects is important. Therefore, it is better to hire a professional game localization service.

2. Transliteration is a part of the localization

If the names of the characters are not to be localized then the least you can do is to write them in the local alphabet. Always remember to keep the UI text in mind. This will become the base of the video game. 

Keep the text space in mind when localizing the content, which is already limited. The use of the abbreviation is a common practice, but in localization, it can be a bit fussed as a translator may translate the abbreviation in the wrong way. So what’s the solution?  Translate the full forms as it is, until unless the term is well known.

3. The help of a translation agency 

Localization is a delicate task, so you must choose a translation agency that understands the complexities of game localization. Companies that offer localization services are careful to keep a clear leash of difference between translation and localization. 

The use of colors, themes, tone of content, and so on, each category is focused and converted according to the target market. Especially, the developers work alongside the translators to ensure correct localization and use of accurate translation.

Take Away

Game localization is essential to expand your reach and provide your audience with a hassle-free and pleasant gaming experience. If you are planning to tap into one or more foreign markets, it’s better to choose a localization partner. 

How to choose the right partner for gaming localization?  Well-conducted research can help you to make an informed decision. Make sure the company you choose has relevant experience and native resources to provide you with top-quality results.

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