The video game industry has become a multi-million dollar enterprise internationally, which continuously raises the chances of games being a profitable success in multiple markets. The best chance for this success is to have a localization strategy that will adapt your game’s content to any specific region and ensure local gamers have an authentic experience. Depending on the level of game complexity, localization can be a challenging process. Establishing a good video game localization process with a platform that can help tackle those challenges can offer you a relatively smooth entrance into a new market, and knowing the basics of a successful localization process can help you create one that suits your video game.
What Does a Standard Video Game Localization Process Look Like?
The core of any video game localization process is usually always the same. Strategy differences come into play depending on the type of game that’s being released on a new market and the audience it’s intended for. Knowing the basics of a localization process can give you a starting point to structure and build from as you see fit. There are four main components to any localization process:
1. Identify Game Requirements
Knowing what elements of your game would need to be translated to preserve the experience for different cultures is a crucial aspect of a localization strategy. The starting point for this is to analyze your game’s level of complexity. For instance, localizing a Super Mario game released in the late nineties would require very little translation for only a few pieces of text, but more recent releases can require translation of in-game dialogue and text prompts, game announcements, player instructions, cut-scene subtitles, UI information for character or item/map information, and even voice-over translation for speaking scenes. Gauging where your game falls on the spectrum of complexity and what translating it would require is the only way to prepare a localization process that can handle your game’s needs.
2. Work With Subject Matter Experts
Video game localization requires extensive subject matter expertise–it requires more than just video game enthusiasts. Working with someone who understands and enjoys your specific game is the best way to guarantee the context of your game translates well to maintain a positive user experience. Working with translators or reviewers that don’t know the game can easily disrupt the experience for local gamers. It would be more difficult for them to realize that certain phrases may translate completely out of context in other languages and confuse gamers. Working with a robust localization management platform can provide easier access to this level of specialization.
3. Ensure Quality Translation
Game translation has to be flawless to preserve the gaming experience. When translating instructions, descriptions, or important dialogue, an incorrect translation can hinder a player from completing tasks necessary to finish the game. Along with using linguists that understand your video game, it helps to include translation tools like translation memory, glossaries, and style guides in your localization strategy. Having tools that keep linguists from having to repeat translations and help preserve context helps maintain translation quality and lessen translation time.
4. Quality Assurance (QA) Review Before Publishing
QA reviews are done to proofread and edit material before it goes live to eliminate errors that would need to be fixed afterward. Not only does it require looking for grammatical and contextual errors, but it also makes sure the game adheres to the cultural norms of the region you’re adapting it to. Certain countries prohibit gore and certain imagery is seen as unlucky in different countries. It’s important to have local reviewers that can make sure your content is culturally sensitive so gamers can feel like the content was made with them in mind. It also allows engineers and testers to review the game as many times as necessary to make sure it functions seamlessly and meets the necessary game-playing standards.
With this basic localization structure in mind, you have the backbone of a successful strategy to adapt your game. It also forces you to understand your game’s architecture and decide if any changes need to be made to it for proper translation. It’s important to make the process as simple as you can and add on any necessary building blocks as you go.
Create a Localization Process That Leads to Success
Because of the complexities associated with video game localization, it’s important to seek a localization management platform that can help you implement an effective localization strategy and automate localization to lessen the strain of translating game updates. Having an agency that can consolidate the process, eliminate unnecessary project management effort, and lower overhead costs are vital to gaining the benefits of multi-language video game localization without the excessively high cost for paying intermediary and managing parties.