8 million active players monthly, that’s the number FIFA video games have hit by the end of 2022. Since day one, people have installed it, enjoyed and engaged with it. It has become a global game with many people considering it part of their routine.
However, this is not only about FIFA. The whole industry of video games is evolving rapidly and more people from different countries and ages engage with it. The reason that made games companies care about being more appealing to their customers, and the way to do that is by having the game adapted to players’ language.
Companies nowadays try to make their games fit with their audience’s culture. This is where the term “video game localization” was first used. In this blog, we will walk you through the definition of this aspect, its importance and how the process goes.
What is video game localization?
Video game localization is the process of making any video game adapted to the culture and language of the target audience, in this scenario, the players. This process involves all the elements in the game, starting with spoken instructions, characters, menu getting to buttons. As the process contains a lot of steps you need the help of an entire team of product managers, translators, developers and marketing specialists.
It is not a matter of just translating the game’s content if we want to put it this way, but also making the user live it and creating an enjoyable atmosphere so the player gets into it.
Why is video game localization important?
Achieving a global reach is applicable when working on the linguistic and cultural aspects of the video game. However, there are some main elements that should be translated as a priority:
- Language: even though English is a global and neutral language, not all users speak or understand it. Take “Immortals Fenyx Rising” video game for example; basically, the game was launched for the Canadian audience, however, it went viral around the world, and players from different countries enjoy the game. As a result, it was important to translate the language of the game from English into Arabic.
- Culture: when referencing local culture and history, it is integral to adapt references as these may differ a lot from one country to another. For example, sports commentary is one of the most essential elements in any sports game -real or video game-. That’s why FIFA game producers were very careful about using the real voices of the most famous commentators in the Arabic sports world.
- Local preferences: If a game’s design and appearance align with the tastes and expectations of local players, there is more chance that they will enjoy it. This is because local culture significantly impacts brand preferences and loyalty. The Danish famous game Subway Surfers has installed a new character that reflects traditional Egyptian culture, wearing a traditional costume and named “Jasmine”; a traditional Arabic name.
Why you should localize your video game
Game localization has more benefits than we think for the companies, and some of them are:
1. Increasing revenue:
In order to attract new customers, as well as generate more revenue, localizing a game is a great way to do so. It is estimated that only 35% of all Steam users have English as their primary language, which is the most popular platform for game distribution. Due to this, localization is one of the most effective ways to increase your global reach and visibility which will by default increase your profit.
2. Acquire local customers:
As a matter of fact, localizing video games gets you to win new local customers in different markets, as it will show them that you care, and it will build a trust bond between you. This will also make you their first choice when buying new games in the future.
3. Stay competitive
Tamatem is a local Jordanian company that is specialized in transferring and localizing international video games into the Arabic version. It has made a huge revolution in the gaming world and has great revenue. International games adopting games localizing made their way in the market and stayed ahead of their competitors.
Key challenges in game localization
Getting a perfect localized game poses some challenges that companies should keep in mind, some of them are:
1. Lack of understanding of the concept
There is a challenge to streamline the process due to the constant back-and-forth between stakeholders that makes it difficult to streamline. There are several questions that developers have to answer when building a game and this often leads to communication delays. Additionally, translators often do not understand the context of the text well, resulting in errors in the translation process.
Any successful localized game was released with its original version first, but there has never been any good-result-localized game that was released with an international and translated version at the same time. Companies need to give it time to get feedback, then depend on that in making their localization decisions.
3. Many elements in the game
When starting localization, companies should keep focused that there are sundry elements to be included in the process, characters, languages, instructions and more. Due to that, it is the result of teamwork where a lot of effort in different fields is put together.
How to localize your video game
Though each game is a special case on its own, there is a general model or strategy for localizing video games:
1. Determine your requirements
As part of the localization strategy, your game will be translated into your target markets in accordance with your target market expectations. The genre of your game, the audience and countries that you are targeting, and the budget you have available should all be considered at this stage. Furthermore, you should collect and assess the source content of your game to determine which text and non-text content needs to be translated.
2. Prepare the codes
A digital product is internationalized by designing and developing it so that it can be localized. As a result of this step, you will save time and effort throughout the rest of the localization process. Ensure that your game isn’t hard-coded by removing strings from your code so your developers’ team can do the job easily.
3. Create a localization kit
A localization kit is used so your translators would understand the guidelines of your game. How so? It includes all of the games’ information, such as: characters, voice and most importantly the game’s story. This step will ease the process so translators get the whole picture and don’t have to ask many questions.
Following localization, it’s critical to review the text’s linguistic quality. It is the responsibility of proofreaders to identify and correct any grammatical, spelling, and syntax mistakes in the translations to ensure that the translation is mistake-free.
5. Test your game
Finally, make sure native-speaking game testers test the localized version of your game after pulling all the adapted parts together. If the translated text doesn’t fit the space allocated for it, for instance, it might not fit the context, even though it does not have any errors outside the game.
Best practices for quality game localization
There are some steps by which you can increase your video game localization process:
1. Let the translator play the game
Though this sounds a bit unnecessary on the surface, it actually is. Your translators don’t have to be professional gamers, yet it is important for them to pull out an effective translation to understand your game, and the best way to do that is by letting them play it.
2. Encourage communication
As there are so many parties involved in the process, it could help a lot if they all held regular meetings and shared their ideas, perspectives, thoughts, and questions. That will improve localization results to the maximum.
3. Use localization technology
Utilizing modern technology for video game localization can help you make the most of all the best practices listed above. It will help you in managing your projects in one place and track the progress easily.
Nowadays, video gamers make millions of dollars by playing and getting advanced in video games. It has become a huge industry by itself, and video game localization is a more complicated process than it seems. It requires a lot of effort to be invested in the project. However, succeeding in this is not impossible; there are a lot of leading companies that have made huge profits out of this business and entertained their global audience as well.