13/09/2022

How to Get the Buy-In for Localization from Stakeholders

While it seemed like we were living in a digital world pre-pandemic, the onset of COVID-19 made our society more reliant on technology than ever before. The amount of global internet users is on the rise and they are spending more and more time online between working, socializing, and relaxing. International businesses that are ready to adapt both digitally and globally will have a competitive advantage. Localization is an important step business can take to launch products and services in new markets successfully. That being said, localization is a big undertaking and there may be times when decision-makers need convincing to invest in the process. Let’s take a look at how to get the go-ahead for localization from stakeholders. 

Set Clear Localization Goals

First things first, you have to set clear localization goals that will guide the requests you’re making and that can outline what you hope to achieve by investing in localization. Whether you’re looking to increase revenue, attract new customers, or improve global brand recognition, you’ll want to outline your end goals. If you can clearly share what you believe introducing localization to your translation projects will achieve, it will be easier for stakeholders to understand the value of taking this extra step. If you can show what types of problems localization can solve, you’re presenting solutions to problems, not just making a request.  

Know Your Market Backwards and Forwards

Again, before you make any formal requests surrounding localization, it’s important to get organized. Once you’ve set your localization goals, study your target market’s buyer behavior, the applicability of your products or services, what your competitors in the space are doing, and any other key market elements. 

To demonstrate the importance of localization, you need to show you understand not only your company’s current landscape but what your market looks like as a whole. Give your audience the attention they deserve to create products and services they will find valuable. Are there cultural preferences you should keep in mind before launching in a new market? What local pain points can your product solve? Have similar brands thrived or failed after launching in the area? Localization is a valuable process that can make it easier to connect with new audiences, so it’s important to carefully examine your market and where localization can step in to make an impact. 

Present Your Case the Right Way

After doing market research and identifying localization goals, you should have the insight you need to make it clear that localization is an investment worth making and not just an extra expense. Localization can be a major needle mover when it comes to growing in a new market and generating revenue. To best explain how this investment can pay off, it can be helpful to allow localization experts to join the conversation. They’ll know firsthand the potential consequences of embarking on international business without taking a thoughtful approach to localization. 

When arguing your case, it can be helpful to present evidence of the potential localization brought to the table. For example, CSA found that companies that increased their translation budget were 1.5 times more likely to report an increase in total revenue. Adding localization costs into your translation budget can lead to positive results and ignoring the potential of localization can be damaging. You should make it clear to all stakeholders what the risks are of passing over localization. The last thing you want is for your brand to experience negative effects that can be challenging to recover from in new markets. 

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.

Discover How Localization can Boost Growth in the Learning and Development Industry
09/08/2022

How localization can boost the Learning & Development Industry Growth

The learning & development industry saw a big uptick in a need for their products during the pandemic, when suddenly countless workplaces sent all of their employees home to work remotely. Learning & development specialists devote a lot of time and resources into creating their educational materials, which are then used by companies to help train their employees. When these training are available in more than one language, companies can extend these training materials to more of their employees. Being able to offer their courses in more than one language can help L&D companies in this industry expand rapidly.

Keep reading to learn more about how localization can benefit the learning & development industry.

Popular Learning & Development Trainings

Digital training materials have become increasingly important for corporations as they make it easier to conduct training for their employees. Typical trainings include courses on how to be safe on the job, how to perform their duties, etc. While these general trainings still occur, training focused on diversity and inclusion, soft skills, and how to improve employee wellbeing have become more relevant. To better understand what types of learning & development materials can benefit from localization, let’s look at a few different popular types of learning & development training.

It’s worth noting that the following topics are strongly culture related. This is why localization is a better fit than translation in this case, as a localization specialist can adapt the content in a course to be suitable for the specific target audience that will be taking the course.

  • Diversity and inclusion training. These days, companies are revisiting their values, training programs, and hiring practices to create a more inclusive workplace. Localized diversity and inclusion training can help them reach their goals in this space more effectively.
  • Employee wellbeing efforts. In light of the Great Resignation, companies have a lot of motivation to try to retain their employees. Companies can incorporate employee well-being into their learning & development materials. These trainings focus on the skills and habits employees need to feel content at work and in other areas of their lives. Localization can help make these learning materials more thoughtful.
  • Soft skill development. There are a lot of soft skills we don’t learn in school that we need in the workplace to thrive. Companies who invest in teaching their employees soft skills through learning & development can build a stronger workforce.

How Localization Can Maximize Learning & Development Trainings

Localization goes a step past translation by taking the target audience’s unique language and cultural habits and preferences into account. This more custom approach can be a game changer in the learning & development industry and can maximize the usability of their educational content. Large companies get more bang for their buck when they invest in multilingual courses, as they can accommodate their global workforce when they offer training. Everyone benefits when more thought and care is put into creating learning & development resources.

As an added bonus, by having access to localized learning & development materials, companies can create a more unified and stronger company culture even if their workforce is spread across the world. This is especially relevant considering that remote working remains popular even after pandemic related workplace closures have come to an end.

Brazil as an emerging market key industries Portada
22/07/2022

Brazil as an emerging market: Key industries

The Brazilian market provides nearly endless business opportunities thanks to its massive population of more than 211 million residents. While many different types of businesses across multiple industries have the chance to thrive in this market, the video game, e-learning, and healthcare and pharmaceutical industries in particular have a lot to gain by entering and embracing the Brazilian market. Let’s examine why these industries can benefit so much by properly entering this vibrant market. 

Video Games

Because only 5% of the Brazilian population speaks English, localization into Portuguese is a must if you want your video game to be widely accessible to Brazilians. It’s extremely important that you localize your video game for the Brazilian market. Especially when you consider the fact that this country is home to over 66 million gamers, which is almost as many people that make up the entire UK population. An important factor to understand about the Brazilian market is how much they rely on their mobile devices because of how much they rely on their mobile devices, in part due to long commutes on public transport and affordability when compared to other platforms. Localizing mobile games in particular should be a priority for video game creators

E-Learning

Those that focus on the corporate training sector in particular have great potential to break into this market right now. Because only a minority of people in Brazil speak English, this language barrier prevents them from taking online courses that are not in their native language. Data suggests that Brazilian industries are developing fast, but their workforce is not adequately trained and can lack specific skills. If you adapt your online courses to their native language, you can help address this need and expand your reach in this market. 

You also have the opportunity to adapt your e-learning courses to a mobile format, which will appeal to this unique market. By 2023, the Latin America e-learning market is anticipated to generate more than $3 billion in revenue, so this is not an opportunity that e-learning content creators want to sleep on. 

Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals

Circling back to those 211 million Brazilians, that’s a lot of people who need access to translated and localized healthcare and pharmaceutical information. As of 2018, there were more than 250 health-focused startups in Brazil. This isn’t surprising when you consider that Brazil is the world’s seventh-largest health market. 

From prescription packaging to medical records to insurance claims, there is a great need for proper translation and localization in the Brazilian healthcare industry. Brazil’s pharmaceutical market in particular is one of the largest in the industry and rapidly growing. With many pharmaceuticals developed in English-speaking countries, this leaves a large need for translation in this space. 

Mobile comes into play here once again. To help make healthcare as a whole more accessible (including advice, diagnosis, and monitoring), telehealth services are growing in Brazil. Part of the attempt to make healthcare more accessible is to embrace telehealth, which often takes advantage of mobile applications. 

Translation and localization in the healthcare and pharmaceutical space does not just lead to business opportunities, but also opportunities to create safer and more effective care for Brazilians.

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.

Everything you need to know about LQA and PLR Services
13/10/2021

Localize, Test, Review: About LQA and PLR Services

The various texts, products, or materials that Language Service Providers (LSP) process every day always have important functions in their context: users read, listen or share them in real situations of life. Because of this relevance, the localization industry has defined steps and tools to ensure that the outputs LSPs deliver integrate neatly in their context of use while being accurate and legible. The two more common solutions for this purpose are Linguistic Quality Assurance (LQA) and Post Layout Review (PLR).

Both LQA and PLR are steps that assess the quality of localized texts formatted as they will be presented to users. Basically, they consist of a linguistic review to check that in the process of formatting and embedding text into websites, apps, or videos, for instance, no error has been skipped or introduced. In addition, LQA and PLR are the final proofing phase, where reviewers flag missed grammar, punctuation, or spelling mistakes.

Format and Quality: PLR

Post Layout Review, also called Post Layout Linguistic Proofreading (PLLP), refers to the linguistic review of a document after desktop publishing services (DTP). Given that DTP specialists are not linguists, they may introduce involuntary errors, or fail to catch them. In the PLR step, a reviewer (a linguist of the project or another) searches for omissions, spacing and alignment errors, misspelled or overlapping text, readability, etc. If something needs improvement, reviewers leave concise and clear comments on what needs to be changed, and the file goes back to DTP.

However, not only formatted documents need PLR. The revision of voice-over tracks, subtitled videos, or e-learning courses, for example, is also crucial:

  • Voice-Over: PLR ensures the voice-over artists followed the script and that the audio is clearly comprehensible. It also assesses synchronicity of music, sound effects and voice, and any other technical requirement, if needed.
  • Subtitling: PLR checks the synchronicity and layout of the text on the screen, plus flagging any linguistic error.
  • E-Learning: PLR checks if on-screen text layout displays correctly and without overlapping or missing text, translation, and recreation of non-editable text and images, the synchronicity of audio and slides, well-function of buttons, links, quizzes, and interactive elements, etc.

Testing Review: LQA

Essentially, Linguistic Quality Assurance is an umbrella term that refers to different quality assurance services carried out once the translation or localization step has ended. Generally, LQA implies the review of localized software, websites, or applications. A proofreader scan and navigates them to ensure that formatting and user interface look neatly and that buttons and links perform correctly. 

Furthermore, LQA may sometimes refer to other quality assurance services, such as the following:

  • Subject expert review
  • Third-party review
  • Standardized linguistic review

However, as the localization industry grows global and diverse, it’s not unusual to see that sometimes the terms PLR and LQA are used interchangeably. Either way, they both refer to a review that assesses a final localization output, in what will be its context of use and distribution.

Planning First

Quality assurance steps translate into more quality, but they also require allocating time and resources. So, when considering adding quality assurance steps to a localization workflow—like PLR, LQA, or back translation, for instance—Project Managers first consider budget and time frames in compliance with clients’ needs. Once decided, they design a well-planned project schedule that allows performing all the steps the project requires.

A product or service needs more than translating. Keep reading to learn why!
25/02/2021

Localization: “Local Focus at Global Scale”

Going global is a big moment for any company. The day they cross borders and expand their products and services to new audiences introduces a whole new world of possibilities. It also introduces an entirely new world of language challenges. The efforts required to bring a product or service to a new market go far beyond simply translating the text into software, packaging, manuals, marketing campaigns, and other important assets. Culture, current events, and local idiosyncrasies also play a role. This brings us to localization

In order to successfully go global, you need to take a local approach to each market, taking into account the culture and the language variants. This requires research to confirm that the product or service will resonate with that target market. It also requires adapting the language you will present to customers in a meaningful way. Localization prioritizes making text both linguistically and culturally accurate to the region it will be distributed in. Localization goes a step further than a direct translation, as that is often not enough to connect with a new audience. 

Follow these tips for going global successfully!

1. Research and Personalize

First things first, a high level of research is necessary when building out a product or service to bring to a market and when it comes time for the localization process. All markets have different language needs. For example, your company’s name may mean something totally different in the language of a target market than it does at home. In some cases, that translation may be offensive or confusing. The same thing can happen with slogans, product names, and other key copy details. Just like you wouldn’t launch a product in your home market without doing your research, you should do the same due diligence when launching in a new market. 

2. Meet Local Peculiarities

When determining a localization strategy, doing in-depth research on the region and markets you plan to enter can make all the difference. Research what values a culture has, what their history is, and what their local dialect is like compared to the overarching language they speak. Major companies have spent millions crafting global campaigns to only find out that their slogans or campaign copy translates to something offensive or ridiculous.

3. Build the Right Team

Who is on your localization team will make all the difference when it comes time to make a splash in a new market. Your team will need the right skill sets and talents to launch in your specific chosen market. Hiring native translators who have the ability to transcreate is often necessary, as they can understand local slang and vocabulary. A native translator will also be able to capture the tone and voice of your intended audience better. Transcreating steps away from direct translations and involves adapting and recreating marketing and other creative content by preserving the original message, context, emotion, and tone. The right translators for your team will have not just a strong linguistic knowledge of your target market, but a deep cultural understanding as well.

Let's discuss the difference between Translation and Localization
02/06/2020

Translation vs Localization: The Important Differences

Before you dive into any type of translation or localization project, it will benefit you greatly to understand the difference between these two terms. While both are closely related at first glance, translation and localization have some key differences between them that are worth knowing. In order to compete in an increasingly global economy, it is important that brands utilize translation and localization services properly and to their advantage. 

What is Translation?

The term translation, also known as tl8n (or #xl8), refers to the process of changing text from one language to another in order to achieve an equivalent meaning. Doing so allows the overall meaning of the text to remain identical while being expressed in a different language from the original text. 

Translation is not a word-for-word conversion, but the goal is to maintain the original meaning through both vocabulary choices and idiomatic choices. A translator will convert your content into the target language while respecting syntax and grammar rules. As translators strive to maintain the complete original meaning of a text, translation is a process often used for important documentation where it is vital that the original meaning remains the same. Localization, on the other hand, blends linguistic equivalence with cultural accommodations. 

Translation is often used to rewrite:

  • Training manuals
  • Scientific journals

What is Localization?

Localization, which is also referred to as #l10n, focuses on making text both linguistically and culturally accurate to whichever region it will be distributed in. The process of localization acknowledges that a direct translation is not enough to connect with an audience. 

Localization is also utilized when you don’t need to translate text into another language, but need to cater to cultural differences. American and British English are perfect examples of this scenario. While an American or British English speaker will be able to understand either type of text, there are major cultural differences between the regions these two languages are spoken in. For example, Americans use the term “bathroom” or “restroom” whereas Brits use the term “loo” when referring to the exact same thing. 

To sum things up, localization ensures culturally connotative terms are used, as localization is not solely focused on a direct translation. A few main areas of concern in the localization process are:

  • Spelling
  • Expressions
  • Idioms
  • Vocabulary
  • Cultural references
  • Imperial vs. metric measurements
  • Currency units
  • Date formats

The Main Differences between Translation vs Localization

The main difference between translation and localization is that localization takes the process a step further by accounting for cultural differences. Localization can help aid in meeting cultural expectations, which can be especially important for making entertainment content, products, or an ad campaign succeed in a new market.

Very direct translation services are more often used for very serious texts where it is of the utmost importance to retain an original meaning, such as with a medical text. Both processes play an important role in increasing the reach of language, but knowing how to use each process to its advantage is key.

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

10/02/2019

Product Localization: Lessons from McDonald’s

Consider one of the most successful globalized businesses, McDonald’s. McDonald’s menus differ vastly between countries due to the chain’s efforts to appeal to local tastes. In Croatia, if you’re brave enough, you can try the McDonald’s take on a beef tzatziki wrap; India offers a vegetarian option called the McPaneer Royale; Korea is home to the Shrimp Burger Deluxe; and Mexico boasts its own version of the McMuffin breakfast sandwich: the wildly popular McMollette. McDonald’s effort to internationalize its menu has been especially pronounced in Latin America. A prime example was the limited-edition “McArgentina” burger, made exclusively for the 2014 World Cup hosted in Brazil. The burger featured chimichurri mayonnaise and was one of a dozen custom recipes in a series of internationalized burgers, each designed to pay tribute to an outstanding nation competing in the World Cup. Perhaps no other ingredient could be more essentially Argentine than chimichurri – although the resultant condiment, by some accounts, tasted more like McDonald’s own “secret sauce”, famous worldwide for its uniquely questionable flavor.

Having tweaked and redeveloped menu items to incorporate and imitate regional cuisine, McDonald’s proudly offers an original take on the Big Mac in every country. McDonald’s stands as one example of a company that has recognized the importance of localization to its bottom line. Whether or not you like McDonald’s (or any of its international menu items, for that matter), it’s worth recognizing that one of the most profitable international businesses invests a tremendous amount of its resources in R&D for localized products. Assessing McDonald’s successful conquest of one of the world’s largest fast food markets, Indian academics found that “product localization plays a crucial role in McDonalds’s success in maintaining its competitive position in Indian market.” (Panwar & Patra, 2017). With an early entrée into the Indian market, McDonald’s overcame the fundamental problem of its core product offering, beef burgers, being taboo to the majority-Hindu Indian population.

The iconic chain recognizes that, while many new localized menu items may go belly up—at least initially, making these adaptative changes is much smarter than serving up food that is completely foreign, and therefore less likely to appeal to consumers in a particular locale. Successful restauranteurs who launch operations in new countries are careful to study the gastronomy of the foreign market in detail. So “Arcos Dorados” (as it is known in the Hispanic world) is no doubt savvy to adapt its signature items to localized tastes.

Every part of the world possesses a unique palette, nationally prized delicacies and authentic flavors, and culinary preferences rich in cultural significance and tradition. Some foods which are considered delicacies in one part of the world may be considered inedible or disgusting elsewhere. Likewise, any product imported from one region to another may have cultural connotations that outsiders are unaware of, and risk offending local consumers. Misguided attempts to get creative and impress foreigners may backfire horribly without knowledge of proper cultural context, yet another reason why expert consultation in a global localization effort is advisable. In an apparent attempt to design an artistic presentation for a state dinner, a celebrated Israeli chef created a metal statue in the shape of a shoe from which he served Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife an assortment of dessert chocolates when they dined with Israeli P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu. A senior Israeli diplomat, who had previously served in Japan said, “This was a stupid and insensitive decision,” as “there is nothing more despised in Japanese culture than shoes. Not only do they not enter their houses while wearing shoes, you will not find shoes in their offices either. Even the prime minister, ministers and members of parliament do not wear shoes to work… It is equivalent to serving a Jewish guest chocolates in a dish shaped like a pig.”

Talk about putting your foot in your mouth!

It doesn’t take a culinary genius or a marketing guru to understand that product localization is essential when entering a new market. The upside to a skilled, tactical localization effort could not be higher. On the other hand, the downside of ignoring strategic product localization can be disastrous.