What Is Video Game Localization?

9 January 2022
GoTranscript Blog What Is Video Game Localization?

Millions of people in different parts of the world enjoy playing video games. According to recent data, Asia had the most video gamers in 2021, with 1.48 billion people engaging in the activity. Europe followed, with a total of 715 million. Altogether, 3.24 billion people played video games in 2021 alone.

These latest numbers clearly show how massive the video game market is. There are many game development companies spread worldwide, each competing for a share in this vast market. 

If you are a game designer, you know how important it is to stand out. One sure way of making your game appeal to multiple audiences worldwide is video game localization. Read on to find out what that entails and why it plays a critical role in the success of your product.

A Closer Look at Video Game Localization

Modern video games include lifelike graphics, deep and engaging storylines, and adrenaline-pumping action. Although the gaming industry has come a long way in the last few decades, it’s still constantly evolving. On that note, what part does localization play? 

Game localization means creating a unique gaming experience for players in different regions worldwide. This is more complex than just translating a game into other languages. The process involves converting text and speech to suit different lingoes and cultural preferences rather than word-for-word translation. This conversion might require editing some game scenes so the visuals match the resulting translation.

A poor-quality translation will distort the gaming experience, leading to boycotts and loss of popularity. For example, a 1980s Japanese game called Zero Wing received massive criticism due to a poor translation of a phrase from Japanese to English. News of this blunder quickly spread throughout internet forums, and the media ridiculed the gaming company. The erroneously translated sentence is still alive today, although it’s been 33 years since it happened. This shows how crucial localization is to make the game resonate with the players from a particular region or country.  

  • Internationalization 

This process involves restructuring a game to suit the requirements of a particular player base. Developers internationalize a game by customizing the user interface, date and time formats, and text character encoding.  

  • Translation 

Translation converts a game’s spoken and written words into a new language. The practice makes your game appeal to the foreign market resulting in better sales. It is essential to have experienced game translators, preferably native speakers of the target language. Here, the professionals come out superior and beat automated translation tools hands down.

Video Game Localization Advantages

A company that conducts thorough localization before releasing its game to different markets stands to benefit greatly from this practice.  

  • Penetration into new markets 

A game appeals to natives of a particular region if they can understand and enjoy the story. Localization covers all changes in the game, including modifying assets, recording new audio, and even cutting out whole parts of the game to comply with local laws and cultural sensitivities. 

  • Positive reviews and feedback 

One way to keep gameplay engaging is with localization. A memorable experience will lead to positive reviews and drive even more gamers to discover other products by the same developer.  

  • Increased sales and downloads 

Players are also more likely to recommend a game they liked to their friends and followers if it's localized for their audience. These recommendations translate to more downloads and boost retail sales, hence increasing your game’s popularity.

Languages to Prioritize During Video Game Localization

Most games use English as a starting point since the language is widely spoken. Other significant languages like Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish are widely spoken beyond their native countries. In addition, Asia and Europe are huge markets for video games.

If you don’t know which direction to go, online gaming platforms and app stores provide data on where your players are coming from. Use this information and fine-tune your game to appeal more to gamers from these regions. 

Final Thoughts

Localization is a very delicate process and requires a collaborative effort. Fine-tuning your localized game version requires professional developers and experienced translators. A reputable translation company like GoTranscript will ensure you won’t be stuck with a phrase like, “All your base are belong to us.”