Getting Started with Game Localization

Lucy Xu
July 24, 2018
5 min read

Often times, games that have garnered a global user base face the challenge of the next step of expansion and growth: game localization. To help everyone in the gaming localization process – from game developers to localization managers and the end-user (your gamers) – navigate the game translation process and enter new markets, we’ve broken down fundamentals for successful game localization. From understanding the basic localization processes to figuring out which international markets you should tackle, our #gamelocalization series will equip you with everything you need to know for successful video game localization.

To begin, here’s an introduction to localization, why it is essential for global game growth, and how you can start identifying which markets into which you start localizing.  

Why Game Localization?

Localization (l10n) is the process of adapting a product, video game, or content for a specific locale or market. In general, this process includes adapting graphics and modifying content to suit target markets and their consumption habits, converting to local requirements (such as currencies and units of measure), and using proper local formats for dates, addresses, and phone numbers. For video games, this means making sure that all the aspects of your video game are properly translated into the languages of the respective markets of your gamers worldwide. For example, here are a few of the game elements you’ll need to take into consideration when building out your game localization strategy:

The goal of localization is to give your product the look and feel that is tailored to the target market, taking into account not only the language, but also culturization factors. With video gamers logging on from all over the world, having a properly localized game will result in a bigger community, more fans, and more sales.

Getting Started with Game Localization

However, it comes at no surprise that gaming companies would prefer to focus their time and resources on adding new levels and features, rather than game translation and localization. At the same time, video game localization is vital not only to gain a competitive advantage, but also just to keep pace with the increasingly mobile-centric world.

While international expansion and localization as a concept is fairly straightforward, getting a fully localized game or website up and running can get pretty complicated if you don’t have a structured plan in place, or are doing it for the first time. To make the video game localization process more manageable, there are some basic steps that you can take to get started. In this post, we explore the first steps: Identifying your international gamer target market(s) to focus your expansion strategy, and understanding the game localization services and tools available to support your international expansion efforts.

Identifying Target Markets

The first step of game localization is understand which international markets you should enter first. To identify these markets, the process includes understanding your user demographics, locations and languages, as well as the demographics and localization efforts of your competitors.

A popular and effective tool for analyzing your user base is Flurry Analytics (part of the Yahoo Developer Network). Tools like Flurry provide comprehensive mobile analytics through robust dashboards. When using mobile analytics or audience analysis tools, you’ll want to gain a better understanding of aspects of your user base, such as:

  • Gamer behavior (e.g., active users, sessions, frequency)
  • User demographics (e.g., personas, interests, geography)
  • Technology profiles (e.g., carriers, firmware versions, errors, devices)

Most importantly, analyzing your user base will give you a better understanding of your audience size, so you can figure out how many users you will reach with a new target audience. From here, you can then calculate your localization ROI – what your return on localization investment will be from a specific market, if you do decide to localize.

Finding the Right Game Localization Tools

The gaming industry is dynamic and highly competitive. If you are going to localize, you will need to do it in real-time to reach your gamers as quickly as possible. Given this, you may want to consider using a localization automation platform or translation management tool. Today, there are many out there that have useful video game localization services and features, that can be easily integrated into your development process. Any localization platform you choose should give you the flexibility to translate and publish content while you keep pace with your development process.

Explore the Full #GameLocalization Series

This post is part of the #gamelocalization series, built to equip everyone in your gaming localization process – from game developers to localization managers – with the knowledge and resources necessary for driving game localization success.

Explore the full #gamelocalization series to catch up on other posts and get more insights into game localization:

Everything You Need to Know About Game Localization

With the proliferation of mobile devices and spread of gaming systems across the world, video game localization is more important than ever if you want to succeed. In our latest gaming guide — A Quick Guide to Localizing Games for Global Markets — we answer the most common and fundamental questions that game developers and localization managers ask when translating their game for international markets.

Download the guide to better understand:

  • How to best reach your international communities of gamers,
  • The video game localization process from start to finish,
  • What to account for when internationalizing your code,
  • Things to keep in mind when designing your game UI,
  • How “pre-flight” helps ensure the best video game translations possible,
  • … and more.

Download the game localization guide today, to learn how you can start adapting your game for gamers worldwide.

A Quick Guide to Localizing Video Games for Global Markets

Lucy Xu
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