For the last decade, new devices, platforms, and games have flooded the industry. The world has met some bestsellers like "PUBG," "The Witcher 3," "Overwatch," "Hogwarts Legacy," etc., while computer and game console developers are launching increasingly powerful devices yearly.

As a child, I enjoyed playing games like Super Mario on one of the first Nintendo or Sega to help the plumber rescue Princess Peach. Three decades ago, the variety of games started with Tamagotchi and ended with 16/32/64-bit games, now called retro. However, nowadays, the situation is opposite. Different devices such as mobile phones, PCs, tablets, VR, and consoles grant easy access to millions of games and inject them into human life. Online or offline, paid or free, cross-platform or platform-specific, MOBA, RPG, simulations, racing, etc. - the assortment of the games market is incredible, and game localization is the routine part of any more or less famous game studio.

What is game localization?

The game localization process adapts the product to the requirements of the specific region, such as visuals, voicing, subtitles, etc. We collected a few exciting examples of video game localization challenges and solutions to understand this question comprehensively.

  • Although The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt version for the Arabic world was banned in some Arab countries, like Saudi Arabia, because of its taboo content, the development team perfectly localized the linguistic part and slightly changed some words' connotations. For example, they removed alcohol mentions by obscuring the specific type of beverage. The company also "dressed" women in lingerie in the naked scenes.
  • PUBG is a popular South Korean game that spread worldwide and gained popularity in many countries. For the Chinese market, they removed the blood after the shooting and now use green sparks on the bodies to comply with China's law that restricts games with blood.

Thus, we can see that game localization is a complex process that requires attention to even the small details and can fail because of a mismatch with the target audience. To avoid such issues, companies need to pay attention to the laws and mentality of the region from scratch and collaborate with local experts who are involved in the local market.

What languages are worth localizing your game into?

Because game localization is a complicated and expensive process, choosing the most profitable regions and languages is the first and responsible step that can bring profit or losses. Based on 2023, there are 3.4 billion active game users in the world, with the following statistics by region:

  • Asia-Pacific - 1,789M users
  • Middle East & Africa - 574M users
  • Europe -447M users
  • Latin America - 335M users
  • North America - 237M users

At the same time, not all players spend money on games. The entire industry revenue reached 187 billion in 2023 with the following statistics per region:

  • Asia-Pacific - 85.8Bn (46%)
  • North America - 51.6Bn (27%)
  • Europe - 34.3Bn (18%)
  • Latin America - 8.8Bn (5%)
Gaming industry revenue by country

The country's statistics show that the leading Endboss is located in the Asia-Pacific region - China, with 45.8B in revenue and 744.1M players. The second place belongs to the USA, with 45B and 209.8M users; the third is Japan, with 20B of revenue and 77.1M users. Compared with the previous period, China showed a 14% increase, which, considering all the information, makes it the leading market with a significant potential for growth.

top regions in game industry

If we look at the most successful gaming companies in the world, it is not hard to guess that China and Japan are also in the top five, sharing this honor with the United States.

Largest video game publishers

The Asia-Pacific region presents promising opportunities for game localization. China strengthened its leading position, and substantial revenue streams come from Japan and Korea. However, the Asia-Pacific market is one of the hardest to expand and lies in its diverse cultural nuances. That's why it is almost impossible to succeed without professional game localization companies.

Asia-Pacific market: main localization challenges

Language diversity
Chinese, Japanese, and Korean are languages with their own dialects and rules. While Mandarin Chinese and Japanese are widely spoken languages, there are also regional dialects that you may use to improve the game flow. The correct dialect usage can immerse the users in the proper atmosphere and increase their involvement.

Vertical scripts
Although vertical scripts aren't a widespread option, they are often used for signboards, manga, literary works, formal documents, etc. Also, they represent the Asian traditional script culture and usually apply to emphasize some time period. Make sure your game is ready to support such a type of script.

Cultural sensitivities
As in the example of "The Witcher 3", which we described above, the cultural component can be a reason to ban the game in the country. So you can think about localization for other regions upfront, which means minimizing offensive imagery, religious symbols, or language that could be disrespectful, or you have to do a massive redesign and rewrite of the existing content.

Character encoding and fonts
Languages such as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean use complex character systems that require specialized fonts and character encoding support. During localization, developers must ensure the product is compatible with them.

Law Compliance
As mentioned earlier, the PUBG game has changed its visual effects to comply with Chinese law. Compared with North America and Europe, the Asia-Pacific region has more restrictions on content featuring violence or taboo imagery. Therefore, during localization, you should also consider this from scratch. The best thing is to find a local law expert to have a comprehensive overview of allowed and prohibited content.

Video game localization components

Entering a new market with a game is expensive and complex. Let's quickly overview the main components of this process that will affect video game localization costs.

Market analysis and strategy creation.
The successful localization of every type of product starts with deep market research. Hiring a game localization agency or marketing specialists related to the region will help you go through this step painlessly and quickly.

Consider translating not only in-game text but also menus, user interface, dialogues, marketing emails, help center articles, FAQs, guides, etc. Such a vast pool of tasks will require a well-structured process organization and professional approach.

Game studios provide professional voice acting instead of localized subtitles for essential regions. The cost for this part of localization often depends on the actor's personality. For example, you can hear the voices of the following stars in the games:

  • Sean Bean: "The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion," "Kholat," "Hitman 2";
  • Patrick Stewart: "The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion," "Lego Universe";
  • Ron Perlman: "Fallout," "Hellboy: The Science of Evil," "Teen Titans".

Post-launch support
Launching a localized game version is only part of the process. Maintaining ongoing engagement and satisfaction among players in the target markets is essential. This process includes continuous support and updates for the localized game versions, addressing player feedback, resolving localization issues, and releasing patches or updates as necessary. Such a continuous process requires continuous localization, which will work in parallel with the development team. Here, companies need tools to build and maintain such processes from scratch.

How can a game localization management system help you during localization in three steps?

First, translation management systems like Lingohub help to establish a continuous localization process and integrate it into the CI/CD pipeline. This is achieved through seamless synchronization with popular repositories and tools such as GitHub, GitLab, and Figma.

Second, we provide the CAT tools that speed up the transition and, as a result, the time-to-market. This list includes automated quality checks, term bases suggestions, style guides, translation history, translation memory, and prefilling of empty text segments.

The third is providing an accessible context. The context is crucial for game localization due to the abundance of fictional vocabulary, including various locations, names, items, and spells. Lingohub has a few ways to share the important information with translators:

  • Context images that can be added manually or automatically;
  • Text segments description;
  • And glossary with terms, descriptions, and images visible inside the Editor during translation.

We understand how challenging it can be to localize a video game. That's why our slogan is "You create —Lingohub translates," meaning we designed our features with customers' needs in mind to simplify every product type and case localization. Do you want to know more about our features? Contact our team for more information about how Lingohub supports game localization — book a short demo call, and let's grow together!

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