2 December 2022

Video game localization: The process and its benefits

Categoria: Linguistic Services

Video game localization is an indispensable service for making your product stand out in such a competitive market, so it is worth understanding how it is done and what benefits it brings.

However, before going any further, we must recall what is meant by the term localization.

In a nutshell, this is an additional language service to translation. While the latter transposes a text from one language to another, localization translates content (not only text-based, but also multimedia) from one culture to another.

Each culture communicates through different alphabets, symbols, rules and expressions. Consequently, there are contexts in which traditional translation is not sufficient to convey the intended message. One example is video games.

Localization not only makes the video game understandable to users who speak a different language, but also makes it exciting, immersive, and engaging, three characteristics that are essential to its success.

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The process

Video game localization involves a methodology consisting of three stages: analysis, localization and checks.

It is first necessary to analyze the video game to determine what materials need to be worked on and to clarify with the client what service(s) must be applied to achieve the desired result. In some cases, people believe that – in order to keep costs down – it is enough to request a basic translation, but this is just the first step associated with localization. It is the combination of the two services that defines a valuable product in users’ eyes, rather than just a title to be satisfied with.

Once the feasibility check has been made and the budget has been approved, after gathering all the necessary information, we then proceed to the operational stage in which the video game is translated and localized. Multiple content undergoes this process, ranging from content that is visible at the user interface level to content accompanying the video game, such as manuals, packaging, promotional materials, etc.

This process is much more complicated nowadays than in the past. First, the volume of material requiring localization has increased; unlike early video games, current products feature more substantial content, with more articulate and detailed narratives and dialogues. It is also necessary to consider their cross-media character, i.e., the fact that they are often based on pre-existing books or films. This aspect requires special attention because the content must be standardized and aligned with the translation of the other narrative elements.

Video game localization therefore requires specialists such as those working in a professional translation agency. The experts involved in the work cycle include project managers, specialized video game localizers, proofreaders, reviewers, professional voice actors, sound engineers and testers.

Voice actors and sound technicians are required due to the fact that many video games contain spoken elements, which means that sometimes only subtitles are required, while at other times actual dubbing of dialogue is needed.

Finally, the localization process concludes with quality control performed by proofreaders, reviewers and testers. Specifically, these checks determine whether the language is appropriate and the user experience is good. First, a check must be made to ensure that there are no linguistic errors and that the cultural norms of the target market are met. A game is then simulated to detect whether the video game has any bugs or other technical problems, so that they can be immediately fixed to ensure a flawless gaming experience.

Clearly, the process of localizing video games is both delicate and complex, but the trade-off is the priceless benefits that come with this investment.

Benefits

Given the growing number of video games on the market, it is necessary to stand out from the crowd and to create a product that makes your title unique, recognizable and unforgettable. After all, when you achieve this result in your market, it is normal to want to replicate it elsewhere, hence the need to localize. Video game localization has three major advantages.

First, it allows for a broader audience of gamers, and therefore potential buyers. Various studies show that the majority of people prefer to interact with digital tools such as video games in their native language, so localizing the game in the language used in the target market is certainly the best way to raise its profile.

User experience also benefits from localizing a title. As discussed in the previous section, localizing means adapting the product to the culture of the new target audience. This involves a series of adjustments and changes relating to factors such as: text, symbols, colors, images, videos, etc.

It is a meticulous task that requires deep cultural and linguistic knowledge. Those who work in localization straddle two cultures, so they know exactly how to intervene in a video game to align the content with the customs and traditions of the target country.

For example, many video games contain action scenes that may cause an outcry or be legally banned in some parts of the world. The localizer is responsible for modifying or eliminating factors that might generate unpleasant feelings and for taking the necessary steps to make the video game enjoyable and intriguing.

If you can enthuse new audiences about your product then it will be easier for the title to raise its profile in the market, resulting in increased sales, which is the most desirable outcome for producers.

In other words, localization is the key that enables the video game also to achieve success abroad, which is why it is worth taking advantage of.

At Way2Global, we have everything necessary to perfectly localize video games: native-language localizers based in every country in the world, no less than three ISO Certifications attesting to the quality of our products, and more than 30 years of experience.

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    Laura Gori is the Founder and CEO of Way2Global, a women-led translation agency startup with a Benefit ethos. After 30 years at the helm of a small multinational localization company, Laura decided to make a fresh start and founded Way2Global to conduct business in a way that benefits society and the environment, while promoting corporate growth. A fervent advocate of Benefit Corporations and women’s empowerment, Laura takes every opportunity to spread awareness on these issues and contribute to a fairer, more egalitarian and sustainable economy for all.
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