Video game localization, including support service

During the last few decades, video games have become one of the most visible aspects of the new globalized culture, attracting millions of passionate fans who closely follow the development of their favorite titles. As computer and video games have rocketed to global popularity, new subcultures have formed around video game playing, having had a profound influence on popular and youth cultures. Video games industry is also among the most rapidly developing segments of the global economy.

video-game-localizationAccording to the market research firm SuperData Research, games generated astounding USD 91 billion worldwide in 2016, with the lion’s share of the market divided between the US, Europe and Asia, while Latin America and Africa lag far behind in terms of sales. Currently the growth of video game industry is driven particularly by the Asian markets, but the rest of the developing world is expected to start catching up.

In terms of market segments, increasingly popular mobile games played on smart phones make the largest and most rapidly growing market, driven by blockbuster hits like Pokémon Go, Monster Strike and Clash Royale. Other big industry segments such as retail games and free-to-play online games are increasingly rivaled by fast-growing new categories such as virtual reality and e-sports.

Essentially global nature of game industry requires from producers to pay increasing attention to video game internalization and localization. Video game localization implies adaptation of game application and related document content in order to meet the language, cultural and other requirements of a specific local market (‘locales’), meaning in the first place language localization.

However, one needs to be careful because game localization is tricky, as poor localization planning may dramatically increase production costs and alienate local customers. So, one of the video game mega-companies Nintendo, due to insufficient attention to localization sensitivities, spent the first quarter of 2016 embroiled in a row rich in accusations over sexism, homophobia, and child pornography.

In addition, game manufacturers often choose to simultaneous release to market several language versions of a new game, in order to ride the initial wave of interest. Also, as platforms have become more complex and powerful in the type of presented material, and the development teams in the industry grow, the cost of production and support services has also increased steeply. However, the key to successful penetration into global markets is the professional quality of video game translation and localization, with special factor of cultural sensitivity. This has led to mushrooming of specialized video game localization companies and video game localization jobs.

The overall state of video game localization quality is still in need of improvement, as has been repeatedly demonstrated by huge expenditures needed to correct frequent localization errors. Re-adapting and re-engineering a deliverable product for a global market is apparently more difficult and expensive than internationalizing it in advance. However, equally important is to start translating the game at an early stage of the game developments.

To sum up, proper video game localization is of utmost importance for expanding to new markets. Therefore, working with experienced and respectable vide game localization companies is a key to global market success. Professional video game translation and localization enhances game action and improves the players’ experience, creates positive press coverage and brings around commercial success.

Glossary

Localization is the process of adapting a service, product or content to a specific locale or market, primarily through translating all necessary documents and texts into the local language, but also using local formats, symbols, presentation style and other regional specificities that make the product competitive in the local market.

Video game localization is the adjustment of video game software and hardware for sale in a specific locale. While video game translation (i.e. translating of texts seen or heard while playing the game) is the essential part of localization, often other changes need to be introduced too, such as changing the artistic design, creating new interface and tutorials, recording new audio materials, and sometimes even redesigning hardware. There are cases when whole portions of a game need to be cut out or replaced due to specific cultural or confessional sensitivities. This work is often outsourced to experienced video game localization companies in order to avoid costly mistakes.

Video Game Internationalization is the process of design and creation of a video game that ensures that it can be easily localized, i.e. adapted to various languages, cultural environments and regions without requiring re-designing and re-engineering changes to the source codes and other essential structures of the game.

Locale: A set of local characteristics that defines the language, region, cultural and other special preferences and formats that enable a product or a service to be fully competitive in a local market through the localization process. Usually, locale is identified by the geographic region, cultural specificity and language(s) used, along with other possible identifiers.