Video game localization transforms games so they’re suitable for international markets. Experts analyze everything from speech to user interface and beyond, making changes so the game appeals to a new, specific market. Video game localization is a complex process, so we’ve broken it down into the key steps.
Why are video game localization services important now?
According to gaming market researchers Newzoo, the video game industry will be worth $189.3 billion in 2021. With over 2.8 billion gamers playing worldwide, they predict emerging markets will continue to grow across regions like the Middle East & Northern Africa.
The key to catching and holding the attention of these international players? Making the gaming experience so good it doesn’t feel translated.
Video game localization ensures that gameplay suits its audience, as though it was made for them. Cultural factors are taken into consideration and language barriers are removed so that nothing disrupts a player’s immersive experience.
Because so many elements come together to create video games, they’re uniquely intricate to localize. The process is best undertaken by experts who can oversee localization across the technical, linguistic, marketing, and cultural sides of the game.
How is video game localization done?
- Design your game for an international audience
Designing a game with international audiences in mind can help the localization process later. This includes considering the storyline, visuals, and code. For example, you could develop a narrative that’s relatable across different cultures. You might avoid potentially inappropriate symbolism. You could design with translation in mind, including flexibility for how text is displayed.
However, these steps are not essential. Professional localization agencies can navigate even the most complex localization projects.
- Decide what level of localization you need
Video game localization isn’t all or nothing. If you expect to sell well in a certain country, you might fully localize to ensure the best gameplay experience. But, if budget or time constraints are an issue, partial localization is the answer. This includes choosing subtitles instead of recording new voice-overs and prioritizing localizations for user manuals, branding, and in-game instructions.
Partial localization can also benefit games where the player needs to be immersed in a specific culture. If you’re not sure which option is the best for your game, get in touch and one of our specialist team will be able to help.
- Internationalize the game
This step is crucial to ensuring successful localization. Internationalization gets the game ready for localization. Specialists write and adapt code to accommodate local languages and country-specific adaptations.
Without this step, localization changes may not function correctly. For example, internationalization includes data encoding to display language-specific characters and altering the UI so that new words fit on the screen.
- Translate and localize in-game content
- Depending on which level of localization you choose, some or all areas of a game can be localized. These include:
- Altering storylines and character attributes to suit the new culture
- Altering aspects of the setting so that it’s appropriate
- Assessing, translating, and localizing text that appears in many areas, such as dialogue, game graphics, play instructions, or UI options.
- Ensuring imagery and symbolism don’t cause offense
- Adhering to local laws on what can be shown in games
- Recreating voice-overs in the new language, including jokes, tone-of-voice, accent, and character personality traits.
- Translate and localize out-of-game content
A gaming world stretches beyond the gameplay itself. Players experience the game through non-gaming channels too. Packaging, product descriptions, websites (including multilingual SEO), manuals, social media ads… anything associated with the game can be localized as needed.
- Undertake QA tests
Quality assurance is an important part of the video game localization process. QA testing involves assessing functionality, examining cultural appropriateness, analyzing translations, and ensuring gameplay work as it did in the original version.
The Cost and Process of Video Game Localization
The cost of localizing a video game can vary depending on several factors. These include the size and complexity of the game, the number of languages it needs to be translated into, the amount of text and dialogue that requires localization, and the level of quality and cultural adaptation desired. Generally, game localization can range from a few thousand dollars for smaller projects to several hundred thousand dollars or more for larger, AAA titles with extensive content and multiple language translations.
To localize a video game effectively, a multi-step process is typically followed. First, the game’s text, dialogue, menus, and user interface elements are translated into the target language(s). This translation process requires linguistic expertise and an understanding of the game’s context and culture. Next, the localized text is integrated into the game, ensuring that it fits properly within the game’s design and functionality. Additionally, audio elements such as voice-over recordings may be required for games with spoken dialogue. Finally, thorough testing and quality assurance are conducted to ensure that the localized version of the game functions correctly and provides an immersive experience for players in different regions.
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in video game localization, there are several paths you can take. One option is to gain a strong background in languages, particularly the target languages you wish to specialize in. Fluency in multiple languages is highly beneficial, as it allows you to work on a broader range of projects. Familiarize yourself with localization tools and software commonly used in the industry, such as CAT (Computer-Assisted Translation) tools and game-specific localization platforms. Networking with professionals in the gaming industry, attending industry events, and building a portfolio of localization projects can also help you stand out and increase your chances of getting hired by game developers or localization companies.
The hourly rate for game localization can vary depending on factors such as the translator’s experience, the complexity of the game, the language pair involved, and the specific requirements of the project. On average, professional game localization translators can charge anywhere from $25 to $100 per hour. However, keep in mind that some translators may charge a flat fee per word or per project instead of an hourly rate. It’s important to discuss the specific terms and pricing details with the translator or localization company to ensure transparency and align expectations.
Future Trans – MENA Video Game Localization Services
At Future Trans, we have over 25 years’ experience in translation and localization. We specialize in video game localization in MENA and have a deep understanding of the languages and cultures across the region. As an ISO17100 certified company, you can trust the quality of our work.
Need a hand with your next localization project? Let’s chat and see how our team can help.