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Why you should care about localization as much as gamers do

by Damien Yoccoz on 11/02/16 02:58:00 pm

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

This blog was originally posted on Level Up Translation's blog on September 21st 2016.


The thing with localization is, when you don’t make the effort it really shows – and that’s when gamers get upset.

Here are some useful tips to keep everyone happy.
 

Localized game descriptions mean more revenue

 


As we saw it in our previous post on the 5 Most Expensive Localization Mistakes, game descriptions are vital for maximizing downloads but often overlooked. Along with the screenshots taken from your title, this is all potential gamers have to go on when they browse casually for new titles.

Case studies have shown the top 100 games in Apple’s App Store are dominated by titles with localized descriptions. This is why the localization of your game description  – be it for Steam, Google Play or Apple's App Store – should be an absolute priority.

You only get one chance to make a good first impression and your game description is the first (and maybe only) thing that will help gamers decide whether your game is worth downloading or not.

It’s not only downloads you’re after, though. You want regular players who keep coming back to your game, talk about it online and recommend it to everyone they know. A properly localized game will turn your aficionados into free marketing machines for you – which again, means more players and more revenue. On the other hand, deliver a title with poor game localization and it won't take long before disappointed gamers make bad press of your game.


Lying doesn’t count as localization


Localized game descriptions and screenshot captions are important, but don’t use them to deceive potential downloaders.

When you post descriptions in a certain language, users tend to think that your game is localized for that language, too. So don’t let gamers find out it isn’t after they’ve downloaded! Make sure your game is available in the same language as the description. And in case it isn't yet, let players clearly know about your future localization plans (if you haven't got any yet, contact us!), or you and everyone else will hear about it in your reviews.

Here's an example of a title on Google Play getting an average review because of the lack of a French version, while the game is otherwise really well received:

 

 

"A FR version and a manual battle mode would be good. It would be perfect then."

 

Know your market's language variations

 

When you launch your video game or your app in a foreign market, it’s vital to break down every barrier that could prevent people from playing it. We’ve already said how important localized game descriptions are for maximizing downloads but you also need to offer language selection from within your game.

Using location detection to preset the languages is a good place to start but not everyone in the US, for example, speaks English as their first language. While Spain has four different languages spoken across the country – before you even consider the differences of Spanish spoken around the world (Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, etc.).

The list of language variations is almost endless. Your job is to decide which languages your individual markets need catering for and allow people to choose for themselves. And never use flags to symbolize languages – print the translated name for each language and dialect you offer (eg: español, not Spanish).

This is as much a political issue as it is linguistic. You don’t want to tell people from Hong Kong they’re Chinese or force Brazilians to select a Portuguese flag to understand your game.

 

This is how much some users of the language learning application Babbel can get offended by the wrong use of flags to represent languages.


 

In a global video games market, localizing your game and the content related to it isn’t the luxury service it used to be – it’s an absolute necessity. Your game descriptions alone can add millions of players in any given market, but there’s far more to localization than content translation.

By understanding each market you venture into, you can avoid expensive reworks and focus on showing people the best of your game. More importantly, you get to reach the widest audience possible and deliver a gaming experience that attracts new gamers and keeps them coming back for more.

See how our team of video game translators can help you complete that quest.

 

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