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Learning How to Translate a Video Game in 2024 Is Extremely Challenging

Daniel Chang
Daniel Chang
Posted in Zoom Sep 6 · 8 Sep, 2022
Learning How to Translate a Video Game in 2024 Is Extremely Challenging

According to research from Accenture, the global market value of the gaming industry is worth over $300 billion. What’s more, there are around 2.7 billion gamers around the world. These figures are not surprising, especially when you consider how gaming communities invest so much in this sector.

Now, if you’re a game developer, you need to ensure that your products are globally competitive. As such, it is crucial that you prioritize proper game translation. When you search online, you will quickly discover the increasing popularity of localization services. Even avid gamers have ventured into this profession.

However, if you’re just starting to learn how to translate a video game, you should know that the process is more complicated than you think. You may have experience in translating various types of documents, but gaming translation is a different ballpark. You need to consider user commands, in-game dialogs, and console instructions, among others. 

In this article, we’re going to discuss why gaming translation is more complicated than you think.

Game Translation Requires More than Language Expertise

When you’re learning how to translate a video game, you’re doing more than converting content from one language to another. You have to understand the programming language and even adapt the visual content of the game. So, besides being culturally and linguistically flawless, the translation should also be technical.

The truth is the process is easier when developers code a translation-friendly game. They can do this by using separate language files. Even so, there are still several things to consider here. In video game localization, among the most common technical issues are text expansion and contraction errors. After all, some languages may eat up more space than others.

For instance, German translations take up to 30% more space than English. So, when you’re learning how to translate a video game, you also need to consider UX and functionality.

Gamers Are Serious About Translations

If you’re venturing into the gaming industry for the first time, you should know that the community cares a whole deal about translations. Game developers already know that making mistakes in this area can put lead them to poor sales, negative reviews, and bad press. The major gaming market will even crucify you for simple translation errors.

A perfect example here is how Sports Interactive received backlash from Chinese gamers. The game developer failed to provide any Chinese translation for Football Manager 2017. During this time, Steam was flooded with negative reviews, not only from the Chinese gaming community but also from the most important gaming markets.

The Differences in Languages Can be Complex

Any type of gaming translation can be complex no matter what language you’re dealing with. What’s more, with every language you handle, there’s a unique set of challenges. There are even elements that cannot you simply cannot translate. Meanwhile, other terms lose their meaning when they’re converted to another language. 

It’s also worth noting that learning how to translate a video game is not straightforward, especially when you go into customer-level interactions. You need to understand cultural nuances and look into the game plot. This way, if there’s no direct translation for words and phrases, you can still convert them without losing their meaning.

In the world of gaming, the language gets even more confusing when developers come up with terms that are unique to their gaming universe. Naturally, you wouldn’t find these words in a translation source. In this case, it can be extremely challenging to rely on third-party translation services for video games. 

For example, when Konami translated Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance for other markets, the company had to take expert care. After all, there’s no translation for “revengeance,” a term they coined for the game.

Now, even with real words, translators should be careful when stringing phrases or words together. This process should be done in a way that represents the voice of the brand. One example here is how the gaming company King requires its team to use “King Lingo” – a language that’s unique to their brand.

If you want to keep the standards of your brand, you’ll need to have someone who knows how to translate a video game while maintaining your company’s identitiy. This way, all the customer support interactions, prompts, and game instructions will align.

The Importance of Learning How to Translate a Video Game Properly

While gaming translation is incredibly challenging, developers should still invest in it. Here are some of the reasons why:

Driving Sales

Games that are released in English only reach about 27% of the gaming market in the world. Keep in mind that the Asia-Pacific region now dominates the industry. So, it only makes sense to localize games for Japanese and Chinese Markets.

It’s also worth noting that France, Italy, Germany, and Spain are home to over 90 million gamers. So, depending on your platform and niche, you should determine which regions to target for localization. Learning how to translate a video game for these territories will drive higher sales.

Increasing Downloads

To increase sales, you need more game downloads. However, before you even get there, you need to ensure that your product has a wide market reach. Translating video games is one of the best ways to get your game across the globe. 

Improving User Experience

You can improve the user experience by letting gamers immerse in the story. Now, this cannot be possible if they cannot fully comprehend the language. With gaming translations, users have better control over their stories. They will appreciate an experience that caters to their linguistic and cultural context.

Remaining Competitive

There are two approaches in video game translation—strategy and reaction. You already know that the right strategy is to select the ideal languages and regions to focus on. Aside from that, localization requires you to be reactive. Remember that you’re competing with millions of games from around the world. So, you need to determine how to translate a video game according to the demands in the market.

Protecting Your Brand

Users can misunderstand the context of your game if you don’t translate it into their native language. When it comes to localization, you need to understand the cultural references, jokes, and slang of the language you’re translating. So, you need to learn how to translate a video game while including local elements like date formats, music, holidays, food, and more.


Because of the Internet, it has been easier for all sorts of developers to penetrate the market. However, many still underestimate the importance and challenges of translating their games. Remember that the process starts as early as the conceptualization stage. 

So, if you need to take a hands-on approach, use GoTranscript’s 100% human-generated translation services. With over 17,000 dedicated professional translators, we can easily match you with native speakers who understand the gaming industry.