Sooner or later, most game developers consider taking their mobile games global and entering new markets. There are amazing reasons to go for it, such as increasing downloads, huge market potential (384.90$ billion is the expected revenue in the games market in 2023 ), and many more. Still, the process of localizing your game might seem daunting. This blog post covers the main reasons you should opt for mobile game localization and provides 4 useful tips to rule every game localization project.

So what is a game localization? It is adapting the product to the cultural peculiarities of the specific region. The Lingohub team already did a short overview of how The Witcher 3 and League of Legends adapt their games for the global market.

#1 Truly understand your target markets and pay enough attention to cultural intricacies

During localization, strategy creating is fundamental to market and consumer analytics, planning, and finding ways to promote the product. Understanding your target audience is crucial, and underestimating this part may lead to failure. Use the local experts and translation to get feedback about a certain market's cultural, social, and legal specialties - understand who your customers are, their values, and ways to contact them.

Take care of the differences between the Western and Eastern worlds. These two regions have an enormous otherness, from religion and ideologies to everyday habits.

Thus, while the Apple App Store and Google Play hold leadership in Western countries, China's top Android App Store ranking is diverse. Based on Statista research, the top 3 Android app stores in China are:

  • Huawei AppGallery
  • Oppo Software Store
  • VIVO App Store

Consider information like this to find your customers successfully inside the new regions and talk to them in the same "language." Remember that the mother tongue is not about familiar words but a deep understanding of the same cultural context.

After collecting the different information about the market and audience, the next question arises - how to share this info with the localization team in a clear and readable format? Lingohub suggests a list of tools that can simplify information transferring.

  • Style guide. Any audience you are targeting should be described, as well as the appropriate tone of voice for it, grammatical person, etc. This information provides context for translators and simplifies the onboarding process for new employees or freelancing translators. For such a case, Lingohub provides a style guide feature that combines essential information in one place.

#2 Don't hard-code text into the source code

From the beginning of the product development, do not hard-coding the text content, numbers, different figures, and any dynamic information. This strategy will save you massive time in the long run. Some 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 the localization process as you must return to the code to edit or update a translation.

The best practice is extracting text from the source code and writing it into a resource file containing a key/value pair. It's common practice to save a resource file for each language of a mobile game, making managing your texts and translations easier.

If your product is internationalized, all manual tasks regarding file sharing can be avoided. The list of Lingohub integrations (GitHub, Gitlab, Figma, etc.) will help you to import and export localization data with a few clicks and without file forwarding.

#3 Hire the right translators for your localization project

The professional translating team is a vital part of high-quality localization. Native speakers with appropriate expertise can adapt your product to customers' expectations. It's essential to consider and value that translators often act as content creators in game localization projects.

The importance of translating/localizing content with high-targeting on the audience 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 case led 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.

Finding an appropriate translator can be a challenge. To save customers' time without quality loss, Lingohub provides a translation orders tool. More than 40 languages and experienced linguists are available for our users. We offer proofreading as fully translating services to support our customers with urgent tasks.

#4 Provide your translators with context information

Detailed context information results in higher quality translations and saves time by avoiding clarifications. It avoids confusing translators with ambiguous text and is so essential in game localization because any game's world has its own lore, canon, and rules. To keep everything in the product consistent and understand what's happening, translators require various information - terms description, style guide, etc.

Moreover, you'll likely be using English as a source language as translators for most languages translate from English into their native languages. Hence, you should care about length discrepancy. That would be perfect if you provided additional info for translators like: how long the text should be on the banner, which text length is appropriate for the button, etc.

For convenient context sharing, use the following Lingohub tools:

  • Term base. Create the glossary to ensure your team uses the appropriate translation. For example, an item called Mortal Reminder exists in the League of Legends. In the Russian version, it has the name "Глашатай смерти"(Herald of Death.) But the different translators can provide and use at least ten other namings, and the user will be fully confused. That's why consistency between the team is so important. The glossary automatically provides the correct translation for the team and avoids various options for one term.
  • Context images. Better to see once than hear a hundred times. The screenshots with the exact text segment placing can bring the understanding to the translating team of how the content will look like.
  • Quality checks. The powerful tool that allows the creation rules for text segments. Create a rule for the text length (for buttons or paragraphs) and avoid issues with text length in the design.

Why should you opt for game localization?

Localization boosts your downloads and will bring more users

Localization for mobile apps/games ultimately boosts the downloads. Steve P. Young is an ASO expert at Appmaster. His customers achieved amazing results by localizing their apps and increasing their downloads 10 times. Localizing app keywords resulted in a 767% increase in 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 is no English natives? You need to localize your game to discover the potential of oversea markets for your business. Adapting your game for every promising market wouldn't be cost-effective, but there's a practical approach to testing. Localize only your app store description instead of the entire game to test your product in new markets. With instant feedback, you can decide on the next steps. If a positive effect is demonstrated, keep 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

In the 90's, over 80% of Internet users were native English speakers, while this figure is around 25% nowadays. Internet availability is growing, and users require content in their native languages.

Have you ever heard of popular games without localization? The game's fans prepare their own (often poor-quality versions with the native language.)

A potential outreach you can't skip

The Asian Pacific game market is considered one of the fastest-growing ones, driven by countries like China, Korea, and Japan. China, as was expected, became the biggest by revenue estimate game market in 2022, based on the Newzoo report.
Nowadays, the top 10 markets for by game revenue are:

  • China
  • USA
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Germany
  • United Kingdom
  • France
  • Canada
  • Italy
  • Brazil
game localization

Wrapping it up

The vast 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.

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