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Why Is Gaming Translation So Important?  

Published on May 27th, 2022

The gaming industry is one of the few that has done well during the Covid-19 pandemic and the interest in gaming translation has only increased over the past few years. However, gaming translation and localisation have been important since the first Japanese titles were imported into “western” markets during the 1980s.

If you have any doubts over the importance of video game translation, this article will clear things up for you in five key points.

#1: The gaming market is a global game

The global gaming market was valued at $198.40 billion (£159bn) in 2021 and it is expected to reach $339.95 billion (£272bn) by 2027. According to the latest data released by Newzoo, these are the seven countries at the moment that comprise the world’s top gaming market place (in terms of revenue):

The above illustrates how only two out of the top seven global gaming markets are native-English speaking. Another important aspect is that there are six different official national languages in that top seven alone, with many of these countries also having several regional languages and significant foreign-language populations – e.g. the Spanish-speaking population in the United States.

The simple fact is that maximising the revenue potential of a game will not be achieved without a successful gaming translation strategy in full play.

#2: Translation truly matters for gamers

We have addressed this before in various articles we have shared either on the translate plus blog or via the Jackpot Translation one: the complex yet important relationship gamers have with translation and localisation. Gaming translation should not be treated as a check box item or afterthought in the development process of your game.

And while we are on the topic of translation, as well as understanding the importance of localisation, a good way of seeing the importance is through thinking of the very origin of the word fan, as in gaming fan(s).

Quite simply, the word fan is an Americanism dating back to the late 1800s, short for fanatic. This is relevant because gaming fans truly are fanatic and we have seen this in instances where gaming translation fell short of their expectations:

#3: Make your titles accessible to a wider audience

The financial numbers of the global gaming market are impressive and, as important as revenue is, it is not the only factor to consider. Making your titles as accessible as possible to wider audiences will boost the performance of each game you release and the profile of your brand in each target market you are successful in.

Marketing plays a key factor in this. The more hype you can build ahead of the release of new games, the more media coverage and online discussion you will end up driving from third-party sources. These include game news websites, reviewers, significant social media channels, gaming forums and individual users talking about your title on social media and elsewhere.

The above essentially drive more mentions, coverage, reviews and other content talking about your game in each target language as if the title was natively designed and developed for them. They can quote your translated material, show localised promotional material, tease localised screenshots of gameplay, link to your localised app store listing for the relevant market and plenty more.

All of this is driven by the translation of your game and its surrounding marketing material for each game. If this is done well enough, it will lead to sparking viral campaigns by simply releasing a new teaser, clip or “spoiler” – and then you will watch the industry publishers in each target market do all the promotional work for you.

#4: Increase downloads, playing time & engagement

With translated titles and marketing campaigns in each target market, you are primed to maximise downloads, playing time and engagement. The marketing campaigns should take care of the downloads, but it is the quality of the game itself that determines playing time and engagement with translation and localisation driving the experience for other language markets.

All of this adds up to increased revenue for the game in question but you also want to keep a keen eye on the ongoing rewards for brand reputation and the anticipation of future titles. If you can wow international gamers in their native language, they will have an invested interest in your future releases, too.

The same goes for the reviewers and industry figures we discussed in the previous section. By building a reputation for developing quality games and for successfully localising your titles to an equal standard for each language audience, you will reap the rewards from your efforts with every future release.

#5: Retain control over the gaming experience – in every language

So far, we have focused on the importance of translation in terms of revenue and the gaming experience for the end user. However, translation also plays a key strategic role in the development and reception of your game in foreign-speaking markets.

By translating and localising the full experience of your game, you retain control over every aspect of this experience.

If we compare this to non-native speakers playing your game in English, this reduces the risk of misunderstanding while playing the game itself – assuming they choose to play in their native language.

More importantly, localisation forces you to analyse the broader experience for each language market, including non-language elements that could cause confusion, lack relevance or, even, potentially offend certain audiences, e.g. historical references or cultural depictions.

With a complete translation and localisation strategy, you can ensure gamers in every market experience your title in the way you intend.

Time to review your game translation & localisation strategies?

If your gaming translation and localisation strategies are not quite hitting your targets, it might be time to review your current approach. Please contact our localisation specialists, Jackpot Translation, to discuss your current strategy.

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Posted on: May 27th, 2022