Emerging Trends and Developments in Games Localization

The Covid-19 has increased in-home media consumption. As a result, there's a great demand for video game localization.

Image by Olya Adamovich from Pixabay

Today’s translation business has incorporated new forms of media, the most innovative one being the video game.

The gaming industry is dynamic and highly competitive and with that booming of independent developers and publishers, knowledge of this broad industry is essential.

Video game companies would like to reach more gamers and make more sales worldwide but they have to keep in mind that game players are a smart and demanding group who expect the best and believe that localization is essential to enjoy their game to its fullest.


Since the early 1990s and the advent of the first cheap game consoles, when titles began reaching a broader audience, localization became a must in order to ensure idiomatic correctness, as well as the full implementation of the translated text within the finished product.


Game localization

Game localization is about adapting a video game for different languages, different cultures, different audiences that have different content and censorship laws. Game localization enables developers to customize and match the game experience to their target audience. It involves everything from the obvious, like translating the game into new languages, to remove elements that other cultures might not tolerate in their entertainment content, etc.


Localization is a massive collaborative effort between developers and localizers. A good localization does not draw attention only to the fact that the game has been translated, it just works seamlessly and elegantly in another language when the main goal is to immerse the player in the game, no matter what language he speaks.


Before starting with the localization process, decisions have to be made regarding the scope of the project. The production team has to determine if the game will have a full or partial localization, as well as to decide which languages the game will be localized in.


Three types of game localization:


  • Basic localization is that only the text is translated but the graphical user interface (GUI) and icons remain as its original.


  • Complex localization is that all-GUI, graphical user interface, icons, and text must be translated.


  • Blending localization is that the story should be rewritten, and the graphics should be recreated in order to match the requirements of the target audience's culture.


Six stages in the video game localization process

Video game localization is vastly different from other types of translation and localization – from the user interface level, getting down to the nitty-gritty of gamer lingo. The key to a completely successful project is a fruitful cooperation between all parties involved in the process to make it as simple and enjoyable as possible. The flowchart below shows the process -step by step - involved in video game translation and localization. *Bear in mind that the process is a multi-stage that requires several people to be involved.




Which languages are most in-demand for video game localization?


The chart below, by LocalizeDirect, reveals a report outlining the 10 most in-demand languages for game localization in 2020.


Most frequently, game developers translated games into German, European French, Japanese, Russian, Korean, European Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Italian, Simplified Chinese, and Polish.


These 10 languages accounted for over 80% of the overall word count, from a pool of 48 languages.
Credit: LocalizeDirect’s 2020 report.


Quality localization of video games allows access to world markets and in fact, it goes hand in hand with globalization in which everyone will benefit from that; developers can bring a positive return on their investment, and gamers can enjoy wonderful stories and experiences and all of this would not have been possible without localization- the best solution to language barriers in the gaming industry.


* This article was originally published in Multilingual Magazine.

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