06/09/2022

Mobile Gaming — A Market Opportunity in Brazil

Video game creators should listen up! There is no shortage of opportunities for mobile game creators to find success in the Brazilian market. Because so many Brazilians utilize public transportation, they can kick back and relax while on the move. Passing the time by playing mobile video games is extremely common in this part of the world, so let’s examine some of the market opportunities for mobile gaming in Brazil. 

A Look at the Brazilian Mobile Market

The Brazilian mobile gaming market is booming. Brazil is Latin America’s largest market for mobile gaming in regard to both the amount of players and how much revenue is generated. With more than 88.4 million players and over $1.0 billion in revenue expected in 2021, Brazil is a force to be reckoned with in the gaming community. 

Why is this market in particular so hot right now? There’s a variety of factors contributing to this surge of growth in Brazil. Alongside the appeal of passing time on public transportation, taxation policy changes surrounding gaming consoles in recent years has helped the industry expand. The accessibility of mobile phones, in the sense that they are now affordable and most Brazilians have them, has also helped this industry thrive. According to Newzoo, the most commonly used gaming device in Brazil is the smartphone (83%), which leaves a lot of room for growth specifically in the mobile gaming industry. 

What They’re Playing

Brazilians play a wide variety of mobile games. In 2020, the most downloaded mobile games from the Apple App Store were:

Free games

  • ‘Among Us’
  • ‘Garena Free Fire’
  • ‘8 Ball Pool’
  • ‘Call of Duty Mobile’
  • ‘Brain Out’
  • Subway Surfers
  • ‘One!’
  • ‘Magic Tiles 3: Piano Game’
  • ‘Brain Test: Mind Games’
  • ‘Gardenscapes’

Paid games

  • ‘Minecraft’
  • ‘Plague Inc.’
  • ‘Pou’
  • ‘Hitman Sniper’
  • ‘RFS – Real Flight Simulator’
  • ‘Farming Simulator 20’
  • ‘Bully: Anniversary Edition’
  • ‘True Skate’
  • ‘GTA: Liberty City Stories’
  • ‘Stardew Valley’

Why They’re Playing

Alongside passing time on long bus rides, Brazilians turn to video games to de-stress. Because of this, Brazilians tend to enjoy playing mobile games that are extremely immersive and that absorb them into the game, while distracting them from reality for a little while. Strategy, role playing, and action games are super popular in Brazil because of their ability to be so engaging. Mobile game advertisers should look for opportunities to sell their games as a way to relax and escape everyday stressors like work. 

The Future of this Market

Despite the growing popularity of video games in Brazil, there is still room for this market to expand. Only a little more than one third of the Brazilian population express an interest in video games. Because those uninterested in games are unlikely to own gaming devices, there is a better chance that their first foray into gaming would be on a mobile device that they already own and use for other purposes. Brazil has a population of more than 212 million people and 81% of those people already own smartphones, making smartphone users a goldmine waiting to be tapped. 

Discover how Game Developers Can Make The Localization Process Easier
16/08/2022

How Game Developers Can Make The Localization Process Easier

When preparing to launch a game in a new locale, going a step past translation into localization is necessary to help a game connect with a new audience on a deeper level. The localization process not only translates the source material into a new language, but makes important adjustments to the content to take historial, religious, and cultural elements of the game into account. To make the localization process simpler from the get go, here are some steps game developers can take when handling the source language and development. 

1. Keep Future Localization Needs in Mind From Day One

If game developers can attempt to foresee any potential locales a game will be launching down the road, they can make the future localization process much simpler. It’s important to know what game elements are cultural and try to predict any “cultural clashes” with other markets that may occur. If you already know which elements could be problematic, you can later focus on adapting those to the new market or just avoid that market altogether and focus on launching in markets that are more similar to yours.

To predict promising locales before launching, it’s important to analyze the target market in terms of game genre preferences, growth in the last few years, potential revenue, and other key elements. What works for other developers will not necessarily work for you. You have to keep the unique characteristics of the game and the target market in mind. It’s a question of finding the ideal match for your game. This research can help you get an idea of what your future localization needs might look like. 

2. Keep Small Details in Mind

While it’s understandable why elements that could cause offense, such as religious or cultural references, may be your priority when creating a game that is primed for localization, you don’t want to forget the small details. You may need to adapt dates, time, numbers, and units of measurements during the game localization process. The formats for dates and units of measurement tend to differ across most languages, so as small as these details are, it’s important you keep them top of mind. 

3. Watch Out for Text in Images

If there is any text used in images, it’s likely you’ll need to localize that text as well. If you’re planning to launch in many different locales, it may save your localization team a lot of time and effort if you can avoid enriching images with text. Your graphics team will also be impacted, as they will have to redesign any images with text from scratch. In some cases this effort may be worth it, but you’ll want to think carefully before adding text to too many images. 

4. Build a Glossary Early On

Whether or not you’re planning on localizing your game content, creating a glossary early on in the game development process is key for maintaining consistency throughout the game. Having one will also make the localization process go much smoother. A glossary contains in-game terms and concepts such as character names, items, statuses, and artifacts that need to be preserved consistently. Being able to reference this glossary throughout the game development and localization process will keep everyone on track.

Internationalization, which is the design and development of a product or type of content keeps localization in mind from the get go. Setting up an internationalization process right away can help prepare your game for the localization process. For example, from day one you can avoid the use of concatenations in English that are extremely challenging for localization as they don’t transfer to most languages.

5. Communicate clearly

To help the localization team succeed, game developers need to be willing to communicate. It can be helpful to assign a point of contact that the localization team can turn to with any questions about the game. That way, the entire development team doesn’t have to worry about fielding questions and the localization team knows exactly who will be able to assist them. Another option you have available to you is implementing query sheets, which can facilitate organized and effective communication between everyone involved in a project. A query sheet is usually an online form or spreadsheet that tracks important details, status updates, and questions and answers about a project. This is a great option if you’re localizing the same game into multiple languages at the same time.

On any type of localization project, it is helpful to make any assets such as images, videos, walkthroughs, screenshots, and term bases with descriptions available to the localization team. That way, they have every resource they need to do the best job possible. Style guides can also be a valuable resource for the localization team.

28/06/2022

An Overview of the History of Video Game Localization

Despite its wide use today, video game localization is a relatively new endeavor. Video game creators started having their content localized in the 1980s and only recently, video game localization technologies and processes allowed for certain advancements. To better understand the need for video game localization, it can be helpful to look back at the history of this technique. 

The 1970’s: The Beginnings

The 1970s is where video game localization really comes into play. Japanese developers were looking to break into the American market and this drove them to start thinking about localization.

One of the most famous examples comes from the internationally popular video game PacMan. The Japanese name was initially thought of as “Puck Man” (pronounced ‘pakkuman’), but when localizing the product for the US market, they decided to change the name to avoid the name being misspelled or misused with another word that could be offensive or inappropriate.

1980s: Initial stages of localization

The 1980s is where we see the initial stages of video game localization beginning. During the 1980s, games started to be localized, but there was a lack of awareness of the importance of using native and specialized linguists. As a result, this stage was the funniest, or one could say tragicomic, in terms of localization. This is essentially because you see completely incorrect translations, some of which still exist today and continue to be referred to.

The translation of packaging and documentation became standard practice in the gaming industry for publishers who understood that this small investment could help them increase their revenue in international markets. Super Mario Bros was distributed with packaging and documentation translated into German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Dutch—although the in-game text remained in English.

1990s: Demand grows

In the 1990s many games began to see their text translated on screen, and departments and companies that specialized in video game localization began to open. We were not only getting the box and docs translated, but we were also seeing the localization of the user interface and subtitles for the cinematics.  

This was huge for international audiences, because they could now immerse themselves in the game in their own language. Localization made video games more accessible to so many more players.

Some games from the 1990s are particularly memorable because they went as far as recording the voiceovers in other languages. Baldur’s Gate was one of the first RPGs that was localized and dubbed into other languages. 

By the end of the nineties, revenues doubled in the gaming industry and more than half of that growth came from the results driven by localization

2000s: Localization established

We are calling this stage “localization established”, because in the early 2000s there were technological improvements to facilitate the localization process. This is when video games started to be dubbed in different languages with actors. It was also around this time when video games started to be published in a variety of languages.

This was the birth of what is known as ‘sim-ship’, publishers were simultaneously shipping the games in a variety of languages to be released on the same date in all of its language variants.

Nowadays, localization is an essential process in the development of a video game and many companies now have an exclusive team of professionals dedicated to localization and testing. There are also increasingly sophisticated tools available to coordinate and ensure quality during the localization process.

20/04/2022

Female Gamers Are On The Rise

In the past men have taken center stage in the gaming world, but it’s time game developers pay more attention to female gamers, because they’re a force to be reckoned with and should no longer be ignored. 

Women gamers are growing in numbers and their perspectives on video games matter. Let’s take a closer look at this trend and how game developers can capitalize on it. 

A Growing Interest Amongst Women

An interest in playing video games by female players is growing across the globe. Google Play found that 65% of women ages 10 to 65 are gamers and account for nearly half of all video game players worldwide. While women from every corner of the globe play video games, they are especially doing so in all of Asia’s key markets, including India, Japan, and China. Asia is considered to be the global capital of video games and contributes 48% of the world’s total gaming revenue, so those female players have a lot of influence in the industry.

How to Capitalize on This Trend

Video game developers should think about this trend as an opportunity to cater to a new audience. A Liftoff study discovered that women are 79% more likely than men to make in-app purchases, so there is a lot of money to be made by being more welcoming to their female players. Let’s look at two easy ways game developers can attract and retain more female players. 

  • Create female characters. Google Play found that 60% of women feel that less than 30% of mobile games are made for them. By increasing the amount of female characters in a game, women will feel like they can relate easier to the characters and as if the game is intended to be inclusive of women. 
  • Include women in the development stage. To create video games that are more inclusive and more appealing to women, hiring more female developers is a great place to start, as they can provide insights and fresh ideas from their own experience playing games. 
  • Use inclusive language. You can include inclusive language throughout all languages of the game, especially paying attention to gendered languages, so as not to alienate female players and foster their immersive experience.

The Organizations Looking to Help

There are many organizations working towards making the video game industry more inclusive. For example, the Women in Games Ambassador program is a worldwide effort to help women and girls better understand the gaming industry, with the hopes of doubling the number of women in gaming over the next ten years. They have 12 Corporate and 446 individual ambassadors across the globe working on this mission. 

There are also industry level initiatives in other countries that aim to create more inclusive working environments in the gaming industry, such as the U.K. based #RaisetheGame which educates companies on how to create more inclusive working environments. This initiative is growing rapidly and over 100 companies have signed up to participate in the initiative. 

At Terra Translations, we share similar goals and we have three different team members acting as Women in Games Ambassadors. Let’s give a shoutout to these women for helping the video game industry make progress!


08/07/2021

The Pivotal Role of Culturalization in Video Games

The term culturalization refers to a translation technique that takes the geopolitical and cultural climates of the local markets where the content will be distributed into account. While culturalization can play an important role in any translation project that will launch in a new market — especially when handling creative content — it is especially helpful in video games

Why Video Games?

Good question! Again, culturalization can come in handy in plenty of areas, but video games can uniquely benefit from this translation technique. Video games are not simply games. Within them, complex universes are built. Some based on fantasy and some based on reality. There are countless content choices to be made when creating a video game and culturalization helps make sure the right choices are made when launching a video game in a new market. For gamers to both understand and enjoy a video game, creators will want to ensure that any political, cultural, or religious references don’t offend. 

Cultural mistakes can lead to not only low sales of a video game in a new target market, but can create a public relations nightmare and even lead to a game being banned. On the low stakes side, culturalization can make a video game more relatable and understandable for the player. On the high stakes side, it can stop video game creators from offending an entire culture.

What to Keep in Mind

There are four main cultural variables to keep in mind during the culturalization process in order to avoid creating problematic content when launching in a new location. 

  • History. Both ancient history and more recent events can touch on very sensitive issues in some markets. It isn’t uncommon for many regions to feel very protective of their historical legacy. If history that they feel is inaccurate appears in a video game, the emotional backlash can be strong. It’s nearly impossible to dive deep enough into the nuances of historical events in video games, so keeping how sensitive these topics are in mind can help you make better choices during the culturalization process.
  • Faith. Across different cultures, religious preferences and belief systems can shift massively. Some content can be seen as extremely problematic in a society that is deeply religious and follows a set of sacred rules closely. 
  • Cultural friction. Unfortunately, we don’t all get along. Cultural friction happens on a variety of levels and not portraying cultural or ethnic stereotypes will help avoid offense and make a video game feel more inclusive. 
  • Geopolitical imaginations. Some national governments reinforce their local worldview and their definition of their geographic sovereignty through digital media. A game that disrupts this worldview, even if their content is seen as accurate in other cultures, can lead to a disastrous launch in a new market. 

Creating a Culturalization Strategy

We’re going to further address how to create a strong culturalization strategy in an upcoming article, but for now, let’s take a brief look at how you can begin to create a culturalization strategy. 

1. Be aware. Understanding the cultural issues that can occur in key markets is the first step you need to take. Hiring a translator that is native to that market can help make this process easier. 

2. Ask questions. During development, make sure you ask the right questions to understand what the cultural needs of a target market are. If part of the content raises any concern, dig deeper until you confirm whether or not it will lead to an issue. 

3. Be accountable. For the culturalization process to truly be successful, it should be treated as a standard part of your development cycle. Assigning a standard team member or team to the task can help build expertise and experience in a way that leads to consistently strong results. 

4. Consult experts.  Whenever you launch a product or service in a new target market, it can be extremely helpful to consult an expert on that target market. If you can’t hire a translator that has strong knowledge and expertise surrounding the target market, you can consult other experts who can help inform the translation team of any mishaps to avoid and how to make your content truly resonate.

14/04/2021

Localizing Games Effectively for Latin America

In March of 2021, Terra Translations’ CEO Marina Ilari moderated a panel on “Localizing Games Effectively for Latin America” at the Game Global Digital Summit. One major topic the industry experts on the panel covered was the peculiarities of the Latin American market and how to address them. Let’s take a look at some of the valuable insight the panelists shared!

Celebrate Diversity 

Connecting with players in a new audience requires adapting to their cultures, religions, and history. Games can celebrate diversity by including music, outfits, and home designs that a wide audience can relate to. During the localization process, you can make references to popular shows and create events that celebrate the new audience’s holidays. Gamers want to feel heard, seen, and included. Kassi O’Connor of Glu Mobile expressed the importance of not just emphasising diversity, but of implementing it the right way. “We want to make sure we represent them in a respectful and truthful manner,” O’Connor said. 

Prioritizing diversity is especially important in Latin America, where people are united by the same language, but separated by it at the same time. Games will resonate with players if they receive a culturally relevant experience. For example, in trivia games, as Ulises Uno of Etermax explained, this means asking questions about their immediate context. 

Leverage the Common Ground 

For Priscilla Bermea of Riot Games, Latin American players have more similarities than differences, so they try to leverage that common ground in their games. Latin Americans are known to be very competitive and passionate. From the publishing standpoint when it comes to diversity, Bermea said that “Our vision for LATAM stems from one simple truth, but it is a very powerful truth, that Latin American gamers have more similarities than we have differences.” This creates a unique challenge to try to find common ground while also highlighting unique experiences. 

Partner with a Team of Localization Experts 

Hugo Miranda of Blizzard recommends game developers work with a well-structured localization company with linguistic expertise, whose translators are diverse and have knowledge of the entire region. In order to avoid falling into any kinds of regionalism, a good practice to follow is to have a translator and reviewer of different nationalities work together. This way, they can collaborate and discuss any terms that generate confusion or that may be misconstrued across different nationalities. 

Encourage Feedback 

Receiving feedback is always valuable and you should encourage the linguistic team to speak up if they have any linguistic concerns regarding a particular term, feature, or other key element. This way, you avoid uncomfortable outcomes after the game’s release. “I can not stress how important it is to empower that team to provide feedback and be part of that process,” O’Connor explained.

Outside feedback can also provide valuable perspective. Pursuing player feedback can be extremely useful as in the end, the game is for them and their suggestions should be taken into account and analyzed.

The Importance of Transcreation in Video Game Localization
22/10/2020

The Importance of Transcreation in Video Game Localization

Today, video games are considered by some to be the world’s biggest cult phenomenon. This iconic status exists in-part because of transcreation in video game localization. Without this process, video games would only be accessible to players who speak the language and understand the cultural context of the original game. Transcreation has broken down borders and changed the entire landscape of the video game industry.

What is Transcreation in Video Game Localization?

Transcreation in video game localization is a different process than a traditional translation project. Providing an exact translation is not the goal here. Instead, transcreators use creativity and individuality to retain the original meaning while adapting the language in a video game to the target audience in a natural and effective way. Generally, transcreators have carte blanche to make necessary changes to language, and they generally try to retain the original meaning of the language used in a video game. That being said, sometimes they must change the meaning completely. The most important aspect of their job is to help ensure the desired outcome or result in the game.

Where is Transcreation Used?

A transcreator adapts all of the text and audio language used in a video game. The list of the language they have to transcreate is quite extensive, but the following list captures some of the main considerations.

  • Names of characters: Adapting the names of video game characters can be particularly important for improving the user experience, especially if the original name carries meaning or has a certain connotation. Transcreating names helps users relate and empathize with the characters. For example, if a character’s name is “Berry Cute”, because it’s a friendly little strawberry, you might want to adapt that word play to something related to berries and cuteness in the target language.

Examples taken from Overhit

  • Names of weapons and powers: Generally, the creators of games must coin new terms or names for elements like weapons and powers. Therefore, a word-for-word translation may not be possible under reasonable circumstances. In cases like these, transcreators provide a translation from scratch. In order to do so, they may take into account what the weapon or power actually does. Because of this, it’s especially important that translators play the game during the transcreation process or have visual references of the game.

Examples taken from Pokémon

  • Instances of character restriction: In some cases there is nothing wrong with a literal translation, but in some languages a literal translation can cause issues. For example, a literal translation may end up taking up too much space on the screen, in which case transcreation can help find a solution that takes into account space restrictions. Buttons are usually one of most challenging UI elements because they can accommodate so few characters.

Example taken from Overhit

  • Jokes: Because cultures can have different senses of humor, it is especially important to apply transcreation to jokes. A direct translation can be potentially problematic if a joke that is considered funny in one culture is highly offensive to another.
  • Cultural references: These references can vary in relatability which can cause confusion. Common foods, songs, movies, celebrities, and politicians may be familiar to gamers in the country the game was originally made for, but can be very foreign to other gamers from different countries.

How This Affects the Gamer Experience

Alongside the task of making video games more accessible to audiences from different cultures, the transcreation in video game localization process also helps improve the gamer experience. One of the best things a transcreator can do to ensure they’re executing their job well, is to play the video game in its entirety. Ideally, they will play the game simultaneously as they work through the transcreation process. Doing so will help guarantee the proper interpretation and maintain the context of the game’s plots, tools, and characters.

At the end of the day, video games are supposed to be fun and the gamer should be “immersed” in the world created by game developers. If any of the elements are off, the gamer’s experience could be disrupted. Generally, their sole purpose is to entertain and a transcreator needs to keep that in mind when doing their work. Their end goal should be to convey the game’s play experience in a way that is as close as possible to that of the original, while ensuring that the game is appealing to new audiences. 

26/02/2019

Video Game Localization: If Content is King, Context is Queen

In our previous post, we looked at how cross-cultural appeal depends on flawless localization. Now we’ll delve a bit deeper, and take a look at the importance of context in product development (through the lens of the video game industry).

Localization Has Always Been Important, but is Now More Important than Ever

I.

It’s 2019, yet somehow not all video game studios have gotten hip to the fact that cultural and linguistic localization is essential for global success! Even some major AAA studios do not fully localize their titles and may skimp on the linguistic production values. In a globalized market with diverse language locales, this is just bad business. Players report that studios ignoring the important detail of localizing dialogue, characters, and features frustrates them to no end. The decrease in quality is such that it interferes with players’ enjoyment of the game. Especially if translation is shoddy, players can get more than just a little upset! Companies should take note that these frustrations could lead to poor customer retainment, cutting into sources of ongoing revenue from DLC and microtransactions. As far back as 2011, dedicated localization had become a recognized and important specialty in the industry. As Christian Arno wrote in AdWeek that year:

“Many of the top video game companies use the services of dedicated localization specialists, who not only arrange for the translation and interpretation of the text and dialogue, but also help them to consider the subtler aspects of the gaming experience: the characters, the story, culture-specific points of reference — key aspects of a computer gaming experience that have often been more of an after-thought in the past.”

Eight years later, the industry and globalization itself have come a long way. In today’s internationalized gaming environment, with massive-multiplayer games spanning continents, and epic storylines as the new norm, there is simply no excuse for poor localization when exporting a game to any corner of the world.

The spread of comprehensive localization to large parts of the world has led audiences to expect that any game produced by a major studio be custom-tailored in a “made-for-me” fashion. As technology enhances the already spectacularly immersive experiences of today’s video games, the depth and quality of product localization must keep pace. Augmented reality and virtual reality technologies are here and will soon become the new standard; localization, in every sense — linguistic, cultural, and technical must keep up with the three-dimensional trend that allows for the “suspension of disbelief”, the same capacity for wonder and imaginative realism that the world’s greatest movies and novels have achieved for decades. Interactivity has reached a new dimension as well: in many blockbuster titles players can act as in-game creators and share their creations with friends (think Minecraft’s virtual worlds or Grand Theft Auto V’s player-designed challenges and races). The experience of the game belongs to the player herself more than ever before.

Even in the pixelated era, “characterization” of in-game characters was important. With Pac Man’s American release in 1980, savvy producers realized that localization was vital to transitioning the game into the new market. Originally dubbed “Puck-Man”, the main character’s name was quickly changed to Pac Man due to concern that vandals would change the name to an English-language expletive. The names of several characters which were changed (including some of the ghosts) might not seem essential in a simple game, but translation and poor transliteration risk giving characters uncool or offensive names by mistake. Even fixing this small detail required acute cultural sensitivity and creativity for the translator/localizer to find a catchy solution to “Puck-Man’s” unfortunate original name. Arguably, failing to correct this detail could have hurt the game’s popularity in the U.S. In this day and age, it would likely make the whole game into a running joke and internet meme!

Great cultural sensitivity and linguistic sophistication are essential tools that a translator must have to ensure a game’s success. In modern games with elaborate, unforgettable plots, cinematic realism, and complex characters, such expertise is critical. Add dialogue, potential voiceovers, and lengthy text translation to the process, and localization becomes a sophisticated type of cross-cultural copywriting (together with the subsequent proofreading/QA). Passing on all of a game’s concepts and characters into a target language (a process sometimes referred to as “transcreation”) is a fine art requiring an astute ear for language and deep bi-cultural understanding of context, storytelling, and gaming tropes.

II.

Seamless localization is all the more vital to a game’s success since every new game has the potential to become a global cultural phenomenon overnight. The most ambitious new gaming ventures aim this high: they are high-stakes gambits to transcend the creative and technological limits of prior generations of games. The level of novelty and excitement required to win over gamers and get them to spend money has become extraordinarily high; therefore, games must deliver extraordinary new experiences, or they won’t be competitive.

In a globalized and instantly responsive community of gamers/critics, getting localization right the first time in every language locale has never been more important; industry insiders will recognize that the time-pressure of global release deadlines driven by the “sim-ship”[1] model makes this level of quality control a daunting task. So, it is up to game publishers to contract the best possible firms to work on their localization projects and make localization a high priority in from the start. Neglecting or deprioritizing localization can have serious consequences. A game with a great concept and commercial potential may easily become reduced to an unforgiving meme of lasting notoriety. Like an elephant, the Internet never forgets, and “A Winner Is You”. The stigma of poor localization and less-than-fluent translation is something to be avoided, and it can be avoided  — if and only if it is prioritized.

Context is everything. Without a dedicated localization team working closely with developers, the product’s narrative content, gameplay itself, and overall quality of player experiences all suffer. Since commercial success depends on these factors, it’s best to plan for localization and invest in it from the start.

[1] simultaneous shipping — the distribution model for most new games in western countries

video game localization
05/02/2019

Video Game Localization: How to Sell Games Globally

The localization of products and services has become a critical part of most business models, as the rise of globalization drives rapid, efficient expansion to foreign markets. We’ll take a look at some best practices, and pitfalls to avoid when expanding your business to another country. The gaming industry has a storied history of localization triumphs and failures, so it makes for a nice case study.

International Success Depends on Cross-Cultural Appeal

By 2015, the gaming industry posted revenues of $91.5 billion worldwide, dwarfing the box office take of global revenues from movies of $38.3 billion. In recent years, the most successful major titles such as the FIFA franchise, Fortnite, and Grand Theft Auto V, among others, have produced hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue within months of their release (and sustainably throughout their continued lifecycle).

Today’s international blockbuster video games have completely broken down the wall between mainstream culture and the traditional niche of gaming as a sub-culture. This is not to say that gaming sub-culture has faded away or is going to despite gaming becoming a more mainstream phenomenon across demographics of age and gender. Committed communities of superfans have continued to thrive and expand. Internationally, gaming and esports have attained mass appeal, especially among younger fans. A WaPo-U Mass Lowell joint poll found that among Americans age 14-21, almost as many respondents were fans of esports and competitive gaming, 38 percent, as were fans of American professional football (40 percent).

Commitment to cross-cultural appeal is essential to any publisher hoping to compete in the global market; therefore, successful localization is not an “extra” feature that’s nice-to-have, but an absolute requirement for a successful product launch. In short, game localization has become a universal vertical in the industry that is here to stay.

Would games like Fortnite and Grand Theft Auto V have achieved the same preeminent cultural status and sales records if publishers had been short-sighted about localization requirements? Translation of in-game text and voice-overs may be the most important localization task to enable creators to stay true to the characterization and storylines they have worked hard to achieve. It’s also the foundation for all the collateral involved in making the game playable by international players (directions, walkthroughs, guides, etc.) It’s hard to imagine games getting off the ground and gaining a global fan base without careful translation and quality control.

It’s amazing that players in the Bundesliga (the world’s football – a/k/a “soccer”), have been miming celebrations from the game Fortnight after scoring a goal at the same time that elite athletes in United States’ National Football League (an entirely different sport and cultural niche) are celebrating big plays with their own imitations of Fortnite in-game celebrations! Although each is a sports celebration, it is a tribute to the unbelievable cultural and commercial success of the game. It’s hard to imagine how a game could transcend linguistic, cultural, and geographic boundaries across continents without effective localization practices integrated into its development.

20/12/2018

Ready Player Uno: Why Video Game Localization Matters

The video game industry is booming with 2.2 billion active gamers in the world according to a report by Newzoo. In fact, Newzoo estimates the global gaming market will reach revenues as high as $143.5 billion by 2020. As the number of gamers continues to rise across the globe, so does the need for quality video game translators. As you know, localization of the game and marketing materials is often outsourced and hiring the wrong translator can have gaming companies wishing they could hit reset.

The art of video game localization is more than just converting text word for word into another language. There needs to be a deep understanding of regions, cultural norms, cultural sensitivities, language nuances, and slangs of the target market. Metaphors, idioms, jokes, and sarcasm can be difficult to localize translate region to region and a good video game translator should be able to catch these issues and fill in the gap. In addition to linguistic skills, excellent translators also understand gaming worlds and cultures knowing terminology and how to localize within that specific genre.

Localization Should be the First Step, Not Last

Video game developers are now designing games with localization in mind. To better reach international markets, developers have started making graphics and texts as editable as possible to avoid additional coding down the line. Large video game publishers will expect localization for all non-audio assets with no written word left untranslated. That’s why developers should avoid hard-coding into the games’ core files. When a game is properly localized, there stands a higher chance of the game to receive higher ratings by players. Gaining higher ratings will increase the popularity of the game and ultimately increased sales.

Immersion Disrupted

Video games are designed to be an immersive experience. They create spatial presence when the user starts to feel like he or she is within the world of the game. Vibrant graphics, environmental accuracy, and a strong narrative all contribute to this immersion. For a moment in time, the player forgets about their true surroundings entirely. Localization builds this experience and is intended to be so fluid, consistent, and natural, as if it’s “invisible” to the player. However, one small error in localization can result in an inharmonious experience, disrupting the player’s connection to the game and quickly pulling them back into the world they had previously escaped.

Translations Gone Wrong and Viral

Unfortunately, translators don’t always get it right and now their mistakes are going viral. There are countless videos, memes, books, and entire websites dedicated to making fun of bad video game localizations. “All your base are belong to us” is a highly popular internet meme that is a screenshot of a poorly translated English phrase found in the opening cutscene the arcade Zero Wing. One YouTube video featuring the game’s poor localization has accrued over 2.5 million views alone. The bad publicity from a translation mistake gone viral can negatively impact sales and cost companies millions in PR recovery.

Focus on the Latin America Market

A driving force in the emerging industry of video games is the Latin American market. In 2016, a total of 110 million Latin American paying gamers generated $4.1 billion, a year-on-year growth of 20 percent (Newzoo). One of the leading Latin American markets in the world is Mexico with 55.8 million players that will spend $1.6 billion in 2018 (Newzoo). According to Competitive Intelligence Unit (CIU), Mexico’s gaming market will continue to grow at a rate of more than 13 percent. Argentina alone has over 18.5 million gamers that spent $423.4 million in 2017, making it the 25th largest games market in the world (Newzoo). To maximize profits, localization in these markets and their different Spanish variants are particularly important. The revenue from properly localizing to a Latin American market will recoup the investment of utilizing a translation service.

Localization mistakes are often avoidable when developers and publishers invest in the right translation team. Localizing video games, especially when text-heavy, can appear to be a daunting task. However, an expert localization team can make the process streamlined and seamless, expanding the game’s international reach and saving its reputation.