In the ever-expanding world of gaming, video game localization has become a crucial component for achieving global success. With a strong localization strategy, game developers can bridge the gap between different languages, cultures, and markets, providing players with an immersive and engaging experience no matter where they are in the world. However, taking a game from one language to another is no easy feat. It requires a strategic approach that involves careful planning and execution across every aspect of the game’s development.
Let’s walk through the 5-step journey for video game localization that can provide developers with a roadmap towards achieving global success.
This first stage typically falls under the jurisdiction of the developers, publishers, or experts/consultants they hire to analyze market viability, who must carefully study the possible markets in which the game will be sold, advertising tactics, legal issues, and various other factors. In this way, they can gear the gaming content and marketing approach towards the specific cultural and linguistic preferences and needs of these different markets. The goal of globalization is to make the game appealing to as wide a range of international consumers as possible and to gain a competitive advantage in the global marketplace.
The next step is internationalization. Here the game is analyzed carefully to determine the best approach for translating it into different languages. During this phase, the files are prepared and any potential issues are taken into account. For example, the team will look out for character limits that could affect certain languages and check if all fonts support special characters. This level of attention to detail is essential to ensure that the localization stage goes as smoothly as possible.
Once the globalization and internationalization steps are finished, it’s time to move on to localization. This is where the actual translation happens. The video game’s texts are extracted, translated into the necessary languages, and then imported back into the game. However, not all elements of a video game can be directly translated—sometimes, transcreation and culturalization are needed. This is especially important when it comes to story, characters, and tone, and involves adapting the content to fit the cultural nuances and expectations of the target audience. It can be a challenging process, but one that’s absolutely essential for successful video game localization.
Localization Quality Assurance
After completing the translation process of a video game, the localized game enters into the last step which is known as LQA (localization quality assurance). The objective of LQA is to test the overall quality of the translation and how well it fits with the game in context. This stage is crucial as it can be the determining factor in providing a seamless gameplay experience for the players. LQA comprises three essential elements: linguistic, visual, and functional QA. Who performs this step may vary, as sometimes game translators are responsible for this stage, while other times the concerned company can have an in-house team in charge of this or outsource it to a third party.
At this stage, a tester, who is not the translator, tries out the game, which usually takes the shape of playing the game and searching for various issues and bugs, which could be anything from cut-off text to poorly functioning design features. This thorough testing ensures the final product is not only free from linguistic errors but also runs smoothly for a seamless and enjoyable gaming experience. Testing is typically done by a testing company or an individual hired for the task.
The road to global success for video game companies is a challenging but rewarding journey. By following these five essential steps, video game developers can effectively adapt their games to different cultures and languages, creating a more inclusive environment for gamers worldwide. As the industry continues to grow and diversify, proper localization will remain a critical element of success, helping video game companies to reach new heights of achievement and global recognition.