video game localization

The global video game market will surpass $200 billion by 2023 (newzoo). Capturing the attention of players in foreign countries opens up the opportunity for international success. But there’s a lot to do behind the scenes before marketing a game abroad. First, developers need to consider video game localization.

What is video game localization?

Video game localization adapts games for players in specific regions. The aim is to ensure the game is engaging and immersive, as though it was made just for them. 

Localization goes beyond simple translation, looking at the best ways to adapt various in-game elements (dialogue, characterization, setting, etc.) and out-of-game materials (instruction manuals, websites, etc.).

Why is it important?

Video game localization creates value. Players expect an engaging experience, wherever they’re based. This is true whether you’re creating a hypercasual game destined for the mobile app market or a massive open-world, multiplatform game. 

If a game isn’t adapted to players in specific countries, it can fall short of expectations. Instead of enjoying an immersive experience, players struggle with instructions in a foreign language or are confused by cultural references. 

Jokes don’t land, storylines aren’t appealing, characters don’t resonate. Ultimately, the game loses part of its appeal.

These factors prevent players from fully entering the world created for them. But video game localization is the solution to this complex problem.

The quick guide to video game localization

1 – Prep the game

Games created in one language won’t necessarily support another language. Internationalization is a technical process, prepping the game so that localized changes can be made.

For example, a game being translated from English to Arabic will need to support Arabic script, right to left language display, and changes to space in case the text is longer in the target language. 

Adapting the game in this way falls under internationalization. The content added later is part of the localization process. 

2 – Plan your localization

There are different options for video game localization depending on budget, needs, and time constraints. You can decide on how much of the game should be localized by analyzing the market size, target audience, and sales potential. 

Let’s take the example of voice-overs. Re-recording in-game speech can be a big task. There are recording sessions to plan, voice actors to find, editing to undertake, and files to be integrated.

Opting to use subtitles instead of voice-overs can be a budget-friendly solution, but the experience will not be as immersive for players. If the new market has the potential to dramatically increase sales, it might be better to invest time and budget into fully localizing the game.

Localization companies can advise on how much or little of your game needs to be localized, taking themes and cultural elements into account. Usually, developers opt for one of the following levels:

  • None
  • Box and docs (out-of-game materials only)
  • Partial localization
  • Full localization

3 – Hand over to the experts 

Professional localization companies hire expert teams to work on video games. Depending on which parts of your game you decide to localize, the team will be different. They might include technical engineers, native-speaking localizers, marketing experts, quality assurance checkers, and project managers.

Quality assurance testing is an important final step in video game localization. The company should check all changes are appropriate and that the new version functions just as well as the original game.

Note: It’s a good idea to create a game localization kit for your chosen company. This should detail everything the team needs to know about your game and brand so they can recreate the right tone and style in the new language.

Future Group – Video game localization specialists

Future Group was founded in 1994 and has grown into a trusted partner for major brands across the globe. Our specialist teams can assist with video game localization for projects of all sizes, so you can maximize your game’s potential. Get in touch to discuss your next project with us.