4 useful Tips to rule Game Localization

· 6 min read
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Sooner or later most game developers think about taking their mobile game global and entering new markets. There are amazing reasons to go for it such as increasing downloads, huge market potential and many more. Still the process of localizing your game might seem daunting. This blog post covers the main reasons why you should opt for mobile game localization and provides you with 4 useful tips to rule every game localization project.


#1 Truly understand your Target Markets and pay enough Attention to cultural Intricacies

Make sure to conduct in-depth research before entering a new market with your game. Regulations concerning distribution or content vary in countries. Market research helps you to understand the specialities of each mobile game market. Game-savvy locals like your translators can provide you with valuable information and feedback about cultural, social and legal specialities of a certain market.

While the Apple App Store and Google Play are holding leadership in Western countries, the ranking of top Android App Stores in China is diverse. Newzoo releases the top 10 Android App Stores in China monthly. Here's the ranking by June 2016

  1. Myapp (Tencent) - 23% coverage
  2. 360 Mobile Assistant - 18% coverage
  3. Baidu Mobile Assistant - 17% coverage

Information like this is important to consider before entering a new market.

#2 Don’t hard-code Text into the Source Code

Consider localization from the very beginning and don’t treat it as afterthought in game development. This can save you massive time in the long run.

Some game developers hard-code their game’s text into the source code to save time in development. Using such shortcuts embeds text into the logic of the source code. This workflow slows down the entire localization process as you’ll have to go back in the code to edit or update a translation.

The best way is to extract text from the source code and write it into a so-called resource file that consists of a key/value pair. It’s common practice to save a resource file for each language of a mobile game as it makes managing your texts and translations easier.

#3 Hire the right Translators for your Localization Project

Hiring the right translators for your game localization project is vital to high translation quality. Work with natives with expertise in the field of game localization. They will understand the unique content and vocabulary (“slang”) used in games and properly translate it. It's important to consider and value that translators often act as content creators in game localization projects.

The importance of translating/localizing content the right way has been recently demonstrated in line with the name change of Pikachu, the most iconic Pocket Monster. The names of Pocket Monsters have been translated differently in various Chinese-speaking regions. Thus, Pikachu was known as Bei-Ka-Ciu in Hong Kong and Pi-Ka-Qiu in mainland China. Nintendo now renamed many Pokemon characters to unify their names. This lead to protests in Hong Kong as their beloved Pikachu’s new official Chinese name 皮卡丘 is pronounced Pi-Ka-Qiu in Mandarin (spoken in mainland China), but pronounced Bei-Ka-Jau in Cantonese (spoken in Hong Kong), which is completely different to what they are used to.

#4 Provide your Translators with Context Information

Detailed context information leads to higher translation quality and massive time savings as no clarification is needed. Translators can get confused when there’s ambiguity in the text. Contextual information smooths down differences.

Moreover it’s likely that you’ll be using English as source language as translators for most languages translate from English into their native languages. Hence, you can select the ideal translator for your game from a wide range. When translating text from one language to another, there’s a discrepancy in length mostly. When translating from English into Chinese or Japanese, the translated phrase is usually shorter. However, translations from English to German or other more verbose languages will result in longer texts. Unless your game is programmed to handle such discrepancies in word length, it may look broken. Text can overlap images or is not visible for the player as it might exceed the screen.

Why you should opt for Game Localization

Localization boosts your Downloads

Localizing mobile apps/games ultimately boosts downloads. Steve P. Young is an ASO expert at Appmaster. His customers achieved amazing results by localizing their apps and increased their downloads 10 times. Localizing app keywords resulted in a 767% increase of downloads for MAKE APP Magazine.

Your biggest Market may still wait to be covered

What if your biggest market is still waiting to be entered and your local target audience are no English natives? Unless you localize your game you’ll never discover the potential of oversea markets for your business.

Localizing your game for every promising market wouldn’t be cost-effective at all, but there’s a practical approach to test mobile games in different markets. Localize only your app store description to test your product in new markets instead of localizing the entire game. By starting with localizing the app title, description, metadata and keywords you’ll receive instant feedback and resonance in a certain market. If a positive effect is demonstrated, keep up with translating the entire game text. You can find more information about this topic in my recent blog post about app store optimization.

The Future requires Localization

To reach 90 percent of the entire Internet population in their native language localization into 21 languages has been required by 2013. 25 languages have been required to reach the same proportion of the global online audience last year. Common Sense Advisory predicts a further increase in languages used by the global Internet population. By 2020 localization into 48 languages will be required to reach 90 percent of the entire online population.

A potential Outreach you can’t skip

App Annie names the countries holding leadership in terms of revenues and downloads App Store Superpowers. In their infographic they categorized 11 countries:

App Store Superpowers

  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • USA

Bric Emerging Powers

  • Brazil
  • Russia
  • India
  • China

Markets To Watch

  • Mexico
  • Indonesia
  • Turkey
  • Vietnam

The Asian Pacific game market is considered to be one of the fastest growing ones, driven by countries like China, Korea and Japan. While the U.S. have long held leadership in the global game industry, China is expected to surpass the U.S. by 2018 in terms of revenues. Newzoo reports that Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam represent 97% of the entire Southeast Asian game revenue.

Today’s Web summarizes market potential, growth rates and revenues and deduces the top 10 mobile app localization languages, as shown in the infographic below.


Wrapping it up

The huge market size and remarkable global revenues of mobile games show the enormous potential of game localization. Localization ultimately boosts your visibility and brand recognition. Still localizing your game is no small feat and can issue a challenge to you. With the right localization partner alongside it’s feasible and easy. Start now with your free LingoHub trial!

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