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Developers can boost downloads 128% if they translate their apps into Chinese. 50% of the top apps in China are in Chinese.

Deciding how much to localize games is key to developer strategy for cracking this huge market.

The Low Cost Option

For many developers, localization is too expensive or too complicated.

“Publishing my next game in multiple languages would be a dream fulfilled, but it always ends up being ‘something for next year’,” says indie game developer Christer Kaitila.

Richard Elms, developer of Pixel Wizard agrees: “I wish I had thought more about localization during the early stages of development, a little time spent at the start would have saved me hours in the end.”

Without localizing, you can still conquer the Chinese market and it will be the lowest cost option.

Focus on ASO Optimization

Developers can translate only key words and their app store description (app store optimization or ASO).

“App descriptions tend to be short, and, because you only need to translate a few words it is pretty cheap and can be done within a week,” according to Patrick Yip, Growth Manager at OneSky.   “When you’re smart with ASO, you can boost your downloads.”

Michael Louw, developer of My Dolphin Show finds that ASO can come in handy when you’re looking to build up an audience. “If you see it picks up, then invest in translating the whole game so you can get more reviews with hopefully 5 stars.”

Think Global

Dr.  Miguel A. Bernal-Merino, Professor of Game & Media Localization, University of Roehampton London sees problems with ASO only

localization. “Translating only the shop info is rather mean, almost a con,” Bernal states. “What you are saying to cus

tomers is: ‘I’ll help you buy my product but I don’t care if you have fun playing it’.”

He continues, “Developers need a strategy for the global market, internationalization and, even better, glocalization. They can use their own data to understand each locale better and tweak planning accordingly.”

Do you have experience localizing games in Chinese? When do you think the moment to localize for China is and to what extent?