4 Key Steps of Game Localization

Lucy Xu
July 31, 2018
6 min read

Once you’ve decided to grow your game globally and identified the markets where you’ll localize first, you’re ready to take the next steps to fully localize your game to reach your gamers across the world. In this post, we walk through the steps that you should take to most effectively invest your time and resources to drive game localization success.

1. Select the Right Translation Resource

To crowdsource or go professional? That is the question. When it comes to evaluating and selecting translation resources, the first step is choosing whether you will crowdsource translations or use professional translators. Here, you have a few options – one, the other, or a combination of the two.

Professional translations are done by translators who have been certified by an association of professional translators. These translators typically have received professional training or education in translation. The key benefit of using professionals is that they are typically native speakers of your target languages, and the have experience in appropriately adapting your source content for local sensibilities. If you decide to go with professional translations, you can order translations and purchase services from third-party Language Service Providers (LSPs).

Crowdsourced translations are the collaborative effort of translating your content into other languages by your current user community. The key benefit of this approach is that your existing users already understand the nuances of your game, and the process can be fast and cost-effective. Crowdsourced translations can also contribute to your marketing efforts, as they are a great way to engage your community, especially your super users. To see some crowdsourced translation campaigns in action, check out how companies like Trello and Waze are doing it. The major concern with crowdsourcing is maintaining translation quality. There are a couple ways to account for this. If you have a large gamer fanbase and would like to take advantage of their knowledge and foster community participation, you can adopt a hybrid approach where crowdsourced translations from your gamer community are reviewed by an LSP for accuracy.

In both crowdsourced and professional translations, you can also provide your translators with style guides and glossaries to provide guidance in making sure all translations done will best align with your overall brand.

2. Internationalize your code.

Internationalization is the foundation that enables game localization to occur. A game can only display game content in one language until your code base, architecture, and game UI have gone through the internationalization process. This process makes the code capable of processing and displaying game content in the gamers’ target languages, and makes sure this content is ready to be translated.

During this step, avoid “hard coding” text within the program. If you do hard code, you’ll have to fix your text strings by hand every time you create a new language version of your game. Instead, isolate all the text strings used in your game and pull them into a resource file for each target language. Internationalization takes several concepts into account such as subject-object-verb order, pluralization rules, automatic line breaking or text wrapping, punctuation rules, and support for date/time, currency, and number formats.

3. Translate.

Now that you have decided on a translation approach, and you have prepared your reference material, the next step is to determine what needs to be translated. To get you started, here are a few of the game elements you’ll need to take into consideration when building out your game localization strategy:

  • Website
  • App
  • Dialogue
  • Features
  • Levels
  • UI Text
  • Descriptive Text
  • Instructions & Tutorial Text
  • Help Desk

Translators balance between two languages, trying to communicate between cultures. This takes time. Each translator will have his or her own speed. Typically audio scripts will take more time to translate than UI text. For an experienced, professional translator, you can expect them to translate 2,000 English words (4,000 Japanese characters) per day. If your video game or gaming app has audio involved, then you should expect the translator’s speed for the audio and voice sections to drop by half (however, this really depends on how much lip-syncing or time-constrained text is involved). The indie game scene has altered the trends in video game development so that today, lots of video games have a lot of text rather than audio. The good news is that this makes localization and global gamer reach a lot easier, more cost-effective, and much more scalable.

4. Conduct Quality Assurance.

Once you’ve officially started, the testing and translation check process begins. The key here is to test, test, and test some more. Then test again. To make sure that all video game elements go through a comprehensive localization testing sequence, verify and answer the following questions:

  • Is all localized content in place?
  • Does the UI allow room for longer translations?
  • Are all fonts working in each target language?
  • Have all dates, times, and currencies been accounted for?
  • And any other items specific to your game localization efforts.

Once the testing is complete and errors have been corrected, you can confidently send your video game out into the world. This way, more players from across the world will able to access and play your game in their respective languages.

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 and your end-user (the gamer) – 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 users worldwide.

A Quick Guide to Localizing Video Games for Global Markets

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Lucy Xu
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