Video Game localization is a word we are hearing more and more. Games have developed immeasurably in the last ten years. As well as new consoles and platforms emerging at all times. As a result of the boom in video game development, games are reaching new markets more than ever.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been playing video games for a long time! There’s something really magical about being immersed in a totally different world. In fact, I don’t think I could live without a gaming session! As I have been a keen gamer for a while now, I’ve seen subtitles, voiceover and everything in-between when it comes to translating games!

According to a study by Statista, in 2020, the value of the video game market reached $64 billion in the USA alone.  That’s huge! Now, just think of the global number!  Think of how popular video games are in different markets.  Not to jump to conclusions, but I think we can all agree. It’s very popular.

So, let’s take a deeper dive into why video game localization has become so popular and how it really works. Whether you’re just fascinated by the process or if you’re looking to localize your game, let’s go over the ins and outs.

What is video game localization?

Firstly, let’s look at what video game localization actually is. Most importantly, it is paramount to remember that localization is more than just translating content. There is a lot of work that goes into the localization process. Often, it involves various teams built of linguists, directors, reviewers, etc. And, there is usually a lot of testing, quality checks and editing involved. We will go through the process later in the article.

In short, video game localization is the process that adapts a game to a new market. And, I’m not just talking about adding a voiceover in another language. There are in-game graphics that need to be translated, as well as dialogue. In addition, cultural and regional factors are also large factors.  It may sound simple enough, but it’s actually a fairly complex process.

A step-by-step guide to the video Game Localization process

In this section, we are going to focus on the video game localization process when you work with a localization company. To learn more about the technical process, see our article on the technical video game localization process. This is particularly helpful if you would rather localize without a provider. There is also a brief summary below!

Step 1: Choose the markets you want to reach

  • If you know exactly what markets you are targeting, then move on to step 2.
  • If you are unsure, there a section below about the video game markets and languages to consider targeting. Speaking with a localization provider about your goals and visions will also help you decide on the languages and markets.

Step 2: Gather your project resources

  • As localization is a very technical process, having all of your plans and project information ready is the best way to prepare. Gather your in-game scripts, story dialogue scripts, and whatever else needs to be translated into your video game.

Step 3: Choose a video game localization company

  • This step is extremely important! Selecting a localization vendor that you can trust is paramount to a seamless experience. See our article below about choosing the right video game experts to localize your game. (all the tips and tricks to choose the perfect service provider are included!)

Step 4: Quality control and edits

  • Once you have handed off your project, your provider will keep you in the loop about the technical process. As a result of choosing an amazing provider, your experience should be effortless! When the work is finished, make sure you do a final review of the quality. And, don’t be afraid to ask for additional edits!

Whilst this is the most simplified version of the localization process, the main key here is to select a company that will help and guide you, and make it seamless. Now, if you don’t want to go through a localization provider, check out the technical process in the link above. I will quickly sum up the main points below, as it is good to know the process either way!

Technical video game localization process summary

  • Translation
  • Editing
  • Quality checks and proofreading
  • Integrating translation into game
  • Linguist Quality Assurance

In addition to this simplified process, there’s also the decision of dubbing or subtitles for your game. A provider will work to find the best option for you.  If you want to read more about the two methods, see our article on Video Game Dubbing, which includes a detailed section about subtitles and dubbing for games!

Why Should You Localize Your Video Game?

There are many benefits to game localization. In fact, it’s not just big video games and AAA franchises like Tomb Raider,  Call of Duty or Marvel Games. Smaller video games and mobile games benefit from it as well.

Of course, we all know the bigger games, and they are enjoyed by players around the world.  However, video game localization has become more popular. As a result, smaller gaming companies, who want to thrive in the market are realizing that in-game content translation is not enough. So, localization and cultural adaption are becoming more the norm.

Here are some of the benefits of game localization:

  • Reach bigger audiences and more markets!
  • Increase sales
  • Build a global following and community
  • Keep up with competitors
  • Show new markets that you care

In addition, to the increase in sales game localization provides, it allows video game companies to connect with audiences and build a global strategy.

  • For example, The Game, Defender’s Quest was localized in six languages. As a result, the sales and engagement increased in other countries. The Russian version of Defender’s Quest increased from 5% to over 11%.

What languages and regions should you localize your video game for? 

According to this article from Newzoo, The global gaming market will surpass $200 Billion by 2023. So, if you’re thinking about globalizing your game, there’s kind of a lot of money to be made from new audiences, just based on the statistic alone. Now, you might be thinking, great, let’s localize my game! But which markets should I target?

The English Language

  • English is the most used language in the video game industry. So, if your game isn’t originally in English, this is a great place to start!

FIGS Languages

  • Then, you have the FIGS languages, (French, Italian, German, and European Spanish). These are a great starting point as well.
  • As well as large populations of people who speak these languages, the FIGS languages surpass borders. For example, the German language gives you access to Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg.  Similarly, French is widely spoken in parts of Africa, Belgium, Switzerland, Monaco etc.

Top 10 Game Markets by revenue

  • China
  • USA
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Germany
  • Great Britain
  • France
  • Canada
  • Spain
  • Italy

Often, it is tempting to see this list and assume that you need to start immediately from the top. However, there are many factors that might not make, China or Japan, for example, the best place to take your video game. Just because of the amount of revenue, your game might not do as well as, the FIGS speaking countries.

It really comes down to your unique goals and content. It is important to speak with a localization company, which can guide you in the right direction for your specific content. And, make a profitable strategy tailored to your game. In addition, check your data and try to make decisions based on actual facts.

How much does video game translation cost?

There are many answers to this question. With different games, the choice of subtitles, dubbing and voiceovers, and how you choose to localize, it will depend on the final number you spend. For example, if you decide to go with a video game localization company, it will be more expensive than bootstrapping or hiring freelancers. See our article Video game localization services vs bootstrapping: Pros and cons for more information. So, let’s look at the options:

  1. Bootstrapping – Localize your own video game! This is the cheapest option but requires a large amount of time and effort.
  2. General translation services – From a company or by hiring freelance game translators. The pricing for this ranges depending. In addition, the quality also varies depending on who you decide to hire.
  3. Video Game Localization company – Whilst this option is the most expensive, it also provides the highest quality translation and adaption. Localization providers don’t just translate video game content, they adapt it to the chosen market. In addition, a provider will work with your budget and timeframe to give you the best possible results.

Whatever option you decide to go with, your goals and visions should be met. If you are unsure of the market or are looking for expert guidance, going through a game localization company is your best option. Of course, this type of quality comes at a price. However, a good provider will work with you and your budget for the best outcome. How to choose a video game localization company? If you have made the decision to go with a localization company, there are some things to look at, and research beforehand. Often, game developers and companies choose a provider to deal with the process from start to finish. By doing so, you have to have a level of trust and confidence within this company. So, how do you choose a company to make this process as seamless as possible, with the best outcomes? Choose a company that:

  1. Has their own studios and equipment. If you’re going for the dubbing technique to localize your content, make sure the company has the tools and know-how.
  2. Works with a team of experienced native linguists and translators. This is so important to achieve the best adaption. Make sure the company can back up how they vet this process.
  3. Assigns a dedicated project manager to handle the process. Sure, a middle man might seem like an ok addition. However, this is actually more important than you may realize. No one wants to be promised XYZ, and then it isn’t delivered. A project manager is there to guide you through the process, iron out the details and ensure a successful game localization.
  4. Has experience with video game localization!

See our article, 5 tips to help you choose a Video Game localization company for more info on how to choose a company for your project.

Want to reach more audiences with your content? SPG offers voiceover services in over 40+ languages. Speak with one of our experts today:

Contact us