Getting Serious About Gaming Localization
Video game developers create a world for their users to live in. There are over 2.7 billion gamers worldwide, and in 2021 a series of COVID-enforced lockdowns boosted their level of engagement. In a market valued at $170 billion, only 27% of global gamers speak English, and the remaining 73% have high expectations of gaming localization.
To find out what meets those expectations and why, we need to dig deep. Gamers who reject a product in a certain country may be dissatisfied with the imagery, with the translation or even with the performance of a voice actor. Analysis of player sentiment in gaming forums or on social media platforms may give clues that a broad-brush approach to gaming localization misses. Our definition of “data” includes any information, in any format, that can offer insight. A Translation Management System should make that data as easy as possible to analyze and leverage for the user’s benefit. It should make gaming localization both a user-driven art and a data-driven science.
Anyone familiar with online gaming forums will know that gamers are still venting their disappointment over poor gaming localization choices made for Final Fantasy, the hugely successful Square game of the 1990s. These arguments are a quarter of a century old, and they are nowhere close to being resolved. Bringing us up to date, the dangers and rewards of Horizon Forbidden West have become a global obsession this February. Sony pre-sold 20 million copies of the game, and since its official launch on February 18th coverage of the game has dominated social media.
Fans will recognize Ashly Burch as the leading English language voice actor in Horizon Forbidden West. Her performance as Aloy has brought her fame and praise, and the global success of the franchise is dependent on gaming localization that delivers similar high quality casting in other languages. The act of professional translation has to mean far more than simply converting words on a page. And the act of gaming localization has to mean delivering an immersive, multi-sensory experience that paints a picture the world wants to see and tells a story it wants to hear.
Gamers are dedicated and passionate. When you meet their gaming localization expectations, they’ll be your biggest cheerleaders. When you let them down, they’ll share their displeasure. What might they be looking for?
- A level of gaming localization that makes them feel as if the game was designed specifically for them
- Localization of idioms and replacement of slang to reflect each target culture
- Skilled editing of user interfaces and game menus
- Changing soundtracks and other audio features to the most appealing regional options
- Gaming localization that correctly interprets historical or cultural references
- Subtitling and voiceover by industry specialists
Above all, they’re be looking for a connection. They are ready to be engaged, not just through an online game but through the language and culture they grew up with and immerse themselves in every day. Reach out, and they’ll hold out a hand in return. It will be a hand of friendship, and – let’s cut to the chase – it will be holding a credit card. Popular games can be heavily monetized, with in-app purchases sending revenue soaring. Serious gamers are prepared to spend serious money.
To claim a global share of it requires serious gaming localization.
Are you ready to get serious?