The need for
In addition to the obvious motivation for translating and localizing your game – to successfully compete in the global marketplace – there are other good reasons as well:
You’ll increase both your sales and your downloads
If you try to sell an English-only game, you’ll be reaching less than a third of your total potential market. It’s important to remember that some of the most lucrative regions for video games are overseas, including China, Japan, Germany, and South Korea, to name just a few. And if potential customers can’t understand or relate to your game, they won’t buy it. It’s that simple. The same holds true for downloads – your game won’t be downloaded if gamers don’t understand it, or if some aspect of it offends them.
You’ll increase your player loyalty if your players see that you’ve gone to the effort to connect with them
That means creating characters and situations that are acceptable and culturally appropriate to your players. That will create a bond between you and the people playing your game. And that translates into customer loyalty for the long term.
You’ll have better control over your game
Unfortunately, ROM hacking – or the situation where someone else surreptitiously alters and/or translates your game without your knowledge or consent — is an all-too-common problem for game developers. But if you create already translated and localized versions of your game at its initial release, the hackers won’t have a reason to hack.
As you might expect, providing translation and localization services for game developers is complicated. Not only do the dialog and instructions within the game need to be translated accurately, voice-over recordings will need to be done by a person who is fluent in the target language – preferably a native speaker. Graphics need to be reviewed and assessed by localization experts who are intimately familiar with the cultural norms, censorship laws, and religious sensitivities of the region where the game will be sold. Anything the least bit questionable – from levels of violence to characters’ attire and general appearance to symbols and even certain colors contained in the game – need to be altered so that they’re acceptable and appropriate for the target audience. And, of course, the advertisements, brochures, and other marketing collateral, as well as the packaging for the game, will need to be translated and the graphics reviewed prior to release to the international market.
As you might imagine, there are several steps involved in the translation/localization process. The first step, from the game developer’s point of view, is to secure the services of a professional translator and localization expert – preferably someone who has experience in the gaming industry. The best way to do this is to contact a reputable translation company. They can connect you with the right professional(s) for the job.