Are you prepared for every necessary step to getting your game into international markets? Are you rushing into translations without doing your research? Neglecting to carefully prioritize your target markets and to educate yourself about app localization best practices could mean that you’re doubling or tripling your budget in no time. It could mean that you push through translation projects and see little to no return in these unfamiliar markets.
It’s time to get familiar—with new territories, new technologies, and a much broader perspective on localization.
- translation quality and creativity
- proactive game testing
- reliable updates
- sharp and evolving market focus
Your focus needs to be on up-to-date accessibility. And this becomes possible in an agile and scalable way with the right game localization tools built by experts.
What Challenges Can You Expect with App Game Localization?
Effective game localization requires management on several fronts. There needs to be stringent and proactive attention to quality. We’re talking about attention to translations as they resonate in the market context, as well as attention to the user experience overall. There needs to be a reliable mechanism for accomplishing updates for all local versions of the game without destabilizing your existing systems. And you need to have more than just a clue about how to take advantage of proven localization best practices for global marketing success.
Maintaining Quality Translations
Game translations present unique challenges as terminology tends to be rich and specialized, and the translation has to be spot on. Good translation transcends the basic understanding of how to play and ushers the user toward full immersion. Commands, names, items, and other elements have to feel authentic and meld together for meaningful gameplay.
The obvious solution to the terminology challenge is to create a complex glossary for each target language that’s accessible to translators, reviewers, project managers, all collaborators. This term base works only when everyone involved is committed to integrating the content and updating the glossary with any changes to keep the team always on the right track. The user experience and perhaps even your game’s functionality are at stake.
Still, good translation is both technical and creative. Your game has a style and tone to be preserved too. Finding professional linguists who are gamers themselves is a tremendous boon. They understand the nature of the translation in this creative context. In fact, creativity is required to preserve the spirit of the game.
Across the board, you’ll need to constantly monitor the quality of translations in order to consistently hit the right style and tone.
Testing from Beginning to End
Game app testing has to be pervasive. It should start with the game design. As you localize, text will expand to overwhelm your real estate and present other graphic challenges—directionality or definition in languages such as Chinese that are made up of intricate characters. To skip testing in these areas is a vital mistake. It can be an inexpensive, resource-light process that can make a huge difference to whether your adapted game even works.
Even before localization really starts, you can run a temporary machine translation to plug in to the user interface. This will give you an idea of the demand on your real estate from a particular language. Knowing the limits up front, you’ll be able to prepare your translators with character limits and requests for creativity to fit the new content to the space.
When a version of the game is localized, it has to be tested on a tight script by players who are native speakers ready to push it to its limits. Again, this is when it’s good to have translators who are also gamers because they can test their translations in context against their understanding of the language and cultural expectations and their understanding of the best kind of gameplay. Besides the language issues in the user interface, test players need to check social media integration and be on the lookout for performance issues that may have arisen during the localization process.
Updating All Projects On Time
You need a way for updates to go out on time across all markets. Managing this kind of integration can be chaotic. If you can’t keep up, your team will feel the stress and your users will pick up on the confusion.
Aside from the translation process, efficient updating is largely a technical issue. You need to start with a viable string exchange strategy to minimize the effort of extracting the source content and then reintroducing the translated content back into the game. API integrations make it much easier by automating the processes, speeding up the back and forth, and eliminating technical errors. The new strings in the game move into the translation process in real time, and assignments to your crew of translators go out automatically so you don’t lose time emailing or managing file upload and download. Your game localization tool is even better when it has sophisticated AI tools, ready to identify the best unique linguist for the project based on existing linguistic performance data in the management platform.
Localization also extends to all aspects of marketing. But people often forget about the fundamental steps like translating app store descriptions and keywords. Otherwise, how are your target users even going to find your awesome game?
There is a discovery process involved here to create a description that conforms to local standards and to choose keywords that local gamers are actually searching—literal word-for-word translations may not do the trick. Here, too, you need fluent and intuitive linguists who can bridge the gap from the localized game to actual market conversions.
But, already, we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves. The real first step is to make a plan for which markets to target first and exactly how thorough you’ll be with localization and translation efforts. Prioritizing your global markets is not an exact science, but you can turn to app store and other data to analyze local gamer habits and preferences.
At the same time that you’re lining up your markets, think critically about the level of localization needed to reach users in a different language and culture. If all it takes is to translate a tutorial layer and users can still get the full, rich gaming experience, then this is a sweet spot that will accelerate your efforts and your global reach. We can’t overestimate the importance of keeping your open-minded focus on the potential markets.
Game Localization Tools—Find Your Multitasking Solution
A cutting-edge localization automation platform provides you with a single source for all the game localization tools you need. It addresses most of these challenges with minimal effort on the part of your localization and marketing managers. This is thanks to both automation and a wise division of human resources. Of course, early and dedicated planning is critical to lay this centralized foundation and to, ultimately, turn the management over to a localization partner.
Vetting and maintaining a stable of translators is a lot of work, and it is a job for specialists. When there’s a large staff of proficient translators to choose from, a sharp tagging system really can ensure that your approved translators are always assigned preferentially to your projects—and quickly. They will be above-and-beyond prepared with comprehensive style guide tools and visual references that supply the necessary background knowledge and context. As a result, their translations will be more intuitive and more appropriate for the game dynamics.
It’s important that testing and quality assurance go hand-in-hand with translation. And a comprehensive game localization platform makes it possible. Leading localization partners can offer an integrated quality management module for string-by-string-level accountability and transparency.
Even on the technical side of the localization platform, the human touch is important. Game developers often tend to create their own idiosyncratic back-end infrastructures, so localization platform engineers need to be ready to customize integrations that can keep up with the nuances. These engineers need to be able to communicate effectively with their game development colleagues and work out the simplest mechanisms to create round-trip automation of strings.
With these tasks under control, game managers can focus on the challenges that a localization platform cannot altogether address, such as what languages and markets to target as you continue to expand your game’s reach. It’s good to know that you have expert support while you take on the tough challenges and truly big goals.
Bureau Works provides continuous automated localization services with the help of highly qualified translators and a thorough quality management system. Seamless API integration is a hallmark of our platform. Contact our team to find out how our powerful game localization tools can work for you.
Written by Henrique Cabral
Henrique is a partner at Bureau Works as well as the CTO. He also speaks code and loves racing cars.
May 21, 2019