The success of a game depends almost always on its global success. It’s based on a huge community of players, who can be quite demanding. An important part of a game’s success is to have a high-quality video game localization, as they can make or break a game’s reputation.

During your game’s internationalization effort, you’ll face challenges that are hard to overcome. But in doing so, you will reap the benefits of offering a high-quality localization version of your game that your players will love.

So, what does it take for a game to be found worthy of today’s most savvy players? And which game localization best practices will help you create an immersive experience for your target market?

Read on to find out the best practices for game localization to take your game to the next level.

With 2.7 billion users worldwide in 2019, the video games market is worth $152.1 billion. In 2020, the global gaming market reached $155.89 billion. Experts expect it will add up to 268.8 billion U.S. dollars per year in 2025.

global video game market value from 2020 to 2025

Despite its growth, gamers are a very complex target audience. In this industry, even the tiniest mistake can lead to a severe drop in sales.

That is why video game localization isn’t easy if you want the best results. You must have experts who understand your audience and provide you with the right translation and localization services.

Follows these steps to create an immersive localized game:

Best Practices For Game Localization

Pre-production

Before starting your game translation project, make sure your game is ready for translation. That means you will need to check a couple of items before you get started, such as:

  • Collect all information that will lead to accurate and high-quality translation and prepare a guideline
  • Complete the legal documentation and agreements
  • Establish the best practices for game localization in your process workflow
  • Set the project management structure and define the communication protocols
  • Adopt a realistic budget for your translation project
  • Prepare for the next steps following translation and learn how to handle the QA issues that might come up

Video Game Localization

Converting game texts and conversations from the source language means more than just copy-paste. You must pay attention to minor details, translating sayings, idioms, and other expressions into the target language. You also have to keep in mind that any in-game audio, text, and pictures also need localization.

Generally, the localization process includes:

  • Translation. It means studying the style guides and specific glossaries, learning the game’s context, and translating the text and audio files. This stage also includes editing, proofreading, and quality checking and/or testing the translated game content, done by a localization team.
  • Quality assurance. Proofreading is checking all your text to make sure there are no spelling or grammar mistakes. You’ll also check any audio files you have to make sure they sound good.
  • Files conversions. When the quality assurance processes are done, the translated files are converted to the game’s original file formats. Translated text files are copied into the game code. Voice actors will need translated audio scripts to record in their target language. The output files are converted to MP4, WMA, or other audio file formats.
  • Follow-up QA testing. A linguist expert or a third-party quality testing provider will check to make sure that the translated material and the game coding are working together well.

To meet the high standards in the industry, you need to follow these video game localization best practices.

If you want to succeed in the global market, you have to make sure the localized versions of your game are just as high quality. To do that, you need professional translators who know how to use cultural references and regional dialects and apply them rightly.

Understand the culture of your target market

You have to research the culture and the gaming market where you want to expand your game. Knowing how cultural traits and other aspects will be received in that area is important. Some aspects are:

  • History — It can be dangerous to make something up about a country. If you get the facts wrong, people might not like it, and it could cause problems.
  • Religion — Using religious symbols can cause people to get offended. If you use them wrong, it could have really bad consequences for your game.
  • Ethnicity — If you don’t take care to represent ethnicities in your game, people from that culture might not want to play it. Also, racism of any kind is highly contentious and needs to be avoided at all costs.
  • Misogyny — Negatively representing women will cause major backlashes with your gaming community.
  • Politics — some countries prohibit media from depicting boundaries that conflict with local government.

In any case, when translating your game, make sure to be transparent and collaborative with the author, game developers, and professional translators. This way, you can get satisfying outcomes for everyone involved!

Complete all pre-production work

To find out if your game is ready for the translation process, make a list and use it to:

  • complete pre-production tasks, including choosing languages for localization,
  • preparing the legal documents,
  • creating a budget for video game translation services, 
  • setting the project workflow,
  • testing in target markets, and
  • other pre-production work.

Test and collect feedback

Make sure you have easy ways for people to share feedback about your game with you. Surprisingly, this can be either through social media or customer service. Also, keep a feedback loop and make changes, whenever needed.

Efficient time management

Superficial research, rushing up translation, and other related tasks result in errors and bad quality. Proper planning and preparation of translation and video game localization projects allow for methodically executed processes and substantial quality. Time management skills often make the difference between games with average performance and those that become international hits.

Some other aspects you sho|uld keep in mind when you want to localize your game in different languages:

  1. Look to identify and fix potential translation problems in the design and development process as early as possible.
  2. Write source code in a way that allows translation with minimal rewriting.
  3. Leave room for translated strings to occupy a larger space than the original text.
  4. Before starting localization, hire native players to test your translated version of the game to discover cultural issues.
  5. Ensure your game meets all national and local government constraints and does not affect cultural sensitivities.
  6. Provide translators with a thorough understanding of context. Leave notes in text strings to help translators understand their use in the game.
  7. Provide translators with elements that make it easier for them to understand the context of the game.
  8. When inserting localized strings, ensure that translators can reorder words in any way they wish.
  9. Limit substitutes you use in coding to a number or a single word.
  10. Set up a system for tracking changes to the source text. It prevents duplication in ordering strings and avoids difficulties integrating translated strings into the game. This can be especially important when releasing frequent updates with added content.

Final Words

High-quality gaming localization will help you to increase a game’s value. It will boost its success and avoid severe costs of lost gains, public relations failures, and brand damage. Beyond its accuracy, a successful translation should enhance the experience of players through engaging and natural action.

Achieving this result depends mainly on the success of open communication between developers and translation experts. Employing video game translation best practices helps improve accuracy, reduce risk of errors, and is cheaper in the long term.