How to Engage International Players with Video Game Localization?

By 2023, the global video game market is expected to be worth $200 billion.  However, reaching players around the world can’t be done with a one-size-fits-all approach. AAA companies and indie developers alike are looking to video game localization services to create engaging experiences for players.

What is video game localization?

The aim of video game localization is to make the player feel like their game was made with them in mind. Let’s imagine the user experience of a game developed in Japan. Native speakers of Japanese will benefit from an all-encompassing, immersive world. Whether consciously or subconsciously, they will notice small nuances that make the game special, and they will understand overarching themes, storylines and instructions. They know what they’re supposed to do and can suspend their disbelief, fully enjoying the game.

For non-native Japanese speakers, the experience will be very different. At best, they may understand the majority of the gameplay, but the experience will feel foreign. The nuances that make the game unique (jokes, personalities, names, cultural references…) will be lost. At worst, players will be confused or completely unable to participate.

Localization corrects this, enhancing games so that players in specific countries or regions can enjoy high-quality gameplay.  The process involves making changes on small or large sales, taking into account the culture and language of the target market.  Localization can happen at several different levels depending on the needs and budget of each project.


Why invest in localization?

1- Good for players

A few years ago, researchers undertook a survey into buying habits in foreign languages. Their results found that 75% of the public said they wanted products in their native languages.  Even small linguistic inconsistencies can disrupt gameplay and break immersion.  Localization combats this and boosts the potential for engaging experiences and increased user retention.


2- Good for business

Studies show that gamers are spread across the world, but this isn’t always reflected in game releases. For example, gaming companies in the US may be tempted to focus on domestic markets, which they know well. However, in 2018, there were approximately 1.2 billion video gamers in the Asia-Pacific region and 330 million video gamers in the Middle East and Africa. Working with professional video game localization companies means working with native experts who understand your audiences and can open new markets.

Additionally, regulations relating to iconography and sensitive themes differ locally. Localization is a great way of adapting your game to suit local rules and abide by important laws.


3- Good for brand image

When players interpret your game, they are also interpreting your brand identity. Symbols, colors, cultural references, and more are often interpreted differently by people in different countries. Localization is an all-around process. Localizers can work to help your in-game and out-of-game messages reach your audience in the right way, showcasing your game at its best.


Internationalize before you Localize

Video game localization differs somewhat from other types of localization. This is because game localization teams need to navigate technical software requirements, code, and multimedia file types.  For this reason, professional localization companies, such as Torjoman, create dynamic teams including linguists, IT engineers, and project managers.

To make the localization process smoother, developers can optimize games for multilingual use before they are localized. This process is called internationalization. Internationalization preps games for foreign-language support by altering sections of code, updating foreign alphabets, and ensuring all graphics will display properly.

Undertaking this process before localization avoids adapting a game that has already been fully developed and tested (known as retrofitting).  Whichever stage your game is at, our localization team is here to help. Just send us a message with what you need and our experts will get back to you as soon as they can.

Three Things to Consider Before Contacting a Video Game Localization Company

Game localization is a complex process. To help you decide what you need, we’ve created three key questions that you can answer before getting in touch.

1- Do I want full or partial localization?

Full localization covers every possible aspect of gameplay and out-of-game experiences. From narration and graphics to user manuals and marketing materials, your game will be transformed for your new international audience.

Partial localization focuses on key areas of the game. For example, budget-conscious developers may prefer to add foreign-language subtitles rather than full voice-overs for dialogue. If you’re not sure which type of localization you need, we can help.


2- How does my monetization strategy affect game language?

Each game is unique, but certain trends can affect which areas need localizing.  For instance, if your game is free and makes money through in-game purchases, you will need a fully localized storefront, with suitable payment options, attractive products, and the correct currency for each country.  Subscription-based games that regularly offer new features will need to incorporate aspects of localization into each update.


3- What are my competitors doing?

Your competitors might have the right idea, or they may have completely missed the mark. How do your competitors deal with localization and foreign-language features? Are their techniques spot-on? Or have they missed a golden opportunity to engage certain players? Studying how other developers are navigating international markets can provide inspiration.

Torjoman – Your video game localization guides

At Torjoman, we are experts in translation and localization. Our company has over 25 years’ experience helping businesses to reach their audiences abroad. We have the technical skills and linguistic knowledge to work on video game localization in over 120 languages.  If you would like to find out more about what we offer, please get in touch or visit our video game localization pages.

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