Our beautiful world is huge! That said a game developer could reach a much bigger audience when looking for chances in markets where you don’t speak the language. However if you do not speak the language, how do you reach these potential players? In this blog, we discuss a couple of game localization questions you might want to ask yourself when thinking about going abroad with your game.
In-house vs. Outsource
First of all, you might want to think about how you are going to organize your game localization. Are you going to recruit a localization hero or are you going to outsource this to an external partner? Both options have their own benefits; most probably the costs will be the decision factor here. If you have a lot of games or content that need to be localized an in-house solution might be more cost effective. On the other hand, you might not be able to recruit people who speak all necessary languages. In this case, an external partner could be a solution. At Spil Games, we have chosen to outsource most of our translations.
If you are going to target your game to a culture that is unknown to you, there is the chance of cultural differences. It is definitely worth taking your time to investigate local habits and cultural specifics when targeting a certain region. Is your content socially acceptable in a country? Doing your research before going abroad could prevent potential negative publicity, non-acceptance of your game and disappointing results.
Use of devices
The local market share of certain devices can be a bottleneck for the success of your game. Let’s say you have built a game focused on iOS devices and want to target a country where the acceptance of this operating system is not big enough for a positive business case. The same applies to targeting a desktop-based game to a market where the desktop is declining rapidly.
What needs to be translated?
This might be one of the most important questions to answer: what needs to be translated? It helps if you think of all the content that needs to be translated, such as in-game texts, store descriptions, marketing material, terms of an agreement or narrative parts. Once you have a full list of translation requirements, you can start building a business case for a certain market. If you are going to enter a market where the target audience understands your language, it might be an option to not localize certain aspects of your requirements list.
How far do you want to go?
Let’s say you are going to localize for the Dutch and Belgian market and are going to focus on the Dutch language, then there is another aspect to think of. How far do you want to go when localizing? Are you going to focus on a language or on geographical areas? The reason I mention this is based on the fact that even in small countries such as the Netherlands and Belgium there are differences in the meaning of words. A native Dutch will see if a text is translated by a Belgian and vice versa. The question you might want to ask yourself is how perfect do you want to localize your game?
Tone of voice
As a game developer, you are focused on creating an awesome game. For this reason, the tone of voice is an important aspect of the player experience. You do not want to lose that in a translation; therefore it is important that you give a thorough briefing to the translators. What do you want to bring across to your audience and what feeling should the content give the player? All-important factors when thinking of keeping the original tone of voice.
Localize the monetization strategy
When your monetization strategy is user based, then you might want to take an extra close look at localizing the monetization strategy. This does not only apply to translating the content, but also thinking of local payment methods or the acceptance of your business model in the market.
Length of words
At Spil Games, we are active in quite the number of countries, and sometimes the length of some words in foreign languages amazes us. This is one of the tricky parts of translating your game content in another language. It is important to think of technical requirements when text exceeds the accepted number of pixels. You really want to avoid losing the meaning of a word because it is not shown due to the number of characters.