Modern game developers cannot afford to ignore translation and game localisation in today’s global online market. While the internet and mobile technologies connect gamers around the world, they also enhance language barriers that can stand in the way of foreign-speaking gamers engaging with future game releases.
In this article, we explain why translation and game localisation are so important for developers looking to maximise revenue from international markets.
What is game translation and localisation?
Game translation and localisation are two closely related, but different language services. Both are very important for game releases, but they play two distinct roles in the preparation of games for international audiences. Let’s look at these two terms closely:
translates game text and dialogue into each target language. Its purpose is to translate game text and dialogue into each target language so gamers can interact with interfaces, follow instructions and engage with the overall gaming narrative.
Game localisation is not just about translation. It is more of an adaptation of the wider gaming experience to maximise relevance for each audience gaming developing companies and publishers wish to target.
Game localisation, therefore, optimises the entire gaming experience to maximise relevance for each audience. Beyond text and audio translation, localisation is about optimising interfaces to protect layouts from text expansion/contraction and formatting information like dates and currencies and ensuring font support is available for all target languages.
It also involves optimising game codes for efficient translation, language selection implementation and gameplay to adhere to local censorship laws or make aspects more culturally appropriate and relevant.
How important is translating and localising a game?
When you consider only 27% of the world’s consumer gaming market is native English speaking, the importance of translation and localisation is clear.
To maximise revenue from new game releases, game developing companies and publishers need to provide experiences that engage, excite and retain gamers.
The common misconception is that English is an international language and gamers are willing to play titles without being fully immersed into the experience.
We’ve previously discussed this topic extensively via our Jackpot Translation blog as well, and all the evidence shows that gamers are not happy about playing games in foreign languages. Gamers really care about translation and localisation and the backlash developers have faced in the past when they fell short of expectations should set an example (to avoid) for all new game releases.
Here are some previous articles we have published on this topic:
- Why do gamers care so much about localisation?
- 7 hard lessons learned from poor game localisation
- Nintendo sparks protests in Hong Kong over Pokémon localisation
- Fire Emblem fans fume at game’s localisation team
- Football Manager 2017 slammed by negative reviews for lack of Chinese translation
Aside from keeping gamers happy, translation and localisation are important for maximising sales by building a community of engaged gamers in each target market.
In this sense, considering translation and localisation as important as the game’s story, design and overall experience of the game is the right mindset to have before starting with the developing process.
Here’s a summary of the reasons why game localisation and translation are so important:
- Reach: Quality translation and localisation give games more reach across markets.
- Relevance: Localisation makes a game as relevant as possible to gamers in each market.
- Control: new game releases are understood as intended in each language market – no misunderstandings.
- Experience: Native experiences are by far more immersive for the gaming audience.
- Engagement: Immersive experiences keep gamers playing for longer and coming back for more.
- Reputation: Translating and localising game titles builds a positive reputation with foreign-speaking audiences. Not doing so will create the opposite result.
- Reviews: Fans of a game that has been properly localised are more likely to leave positive reviews and encourage others to try it.
- Competition: As the global gaming market becomes increasingly competitive, native gaming experiences give developers the edge.
- Sales: The more gamers are satisfied playing a game in their language market, the more this game will sell.
- Loyalty: Gamers who enjoy an existing localised title are more likely to continue buying future releases from the same publisher and/or developer.
- Revenue: All of the above add up to more revenue from each target market.
Every year, the global gaming market becomes an even more competitive field and developers are realising that the only way to maximise sales in foreign-speaking markets is by providing engaging native experiences.
Gamers have never had so much choice in games translated and localised for their native language and cultural background, giving them even less reason to engage with titles that aren’t.
Choosing the right game translation services matters
Game translation and localisation is a bit of ‘a minefield’ and the stakes are high when entire gaming markets can push back against developers who offend or ignore them. Translation and localisation should start before the development stage on the next game release to avoid any potential problems.
If you need any help with the planning of your localisation strategy or to discuss our game translation services for your next project, please contact us.