Complete Guide to Game Localization: How to build a global player base

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Scratching your head about how to bring the game you’ve worked hard on for months, maybe even years, to a wider audience? The most straightforward solution to this prevailing problem would be to make your game as engaging and relatable as possible for all markets, countries, and player bases through translation and localization. But how can translating and localizing your game helps it gain international traction? Where to find this service? Read on to find the answer!

What is game translation and localization?

Video games refer to any games that players play and interact with on a digital platform. Some common gaming platforms nowadays include PC, laptops, mobiles, and consoles (Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo, etc.).

Video games encompass a variety of genres such as: action, adventure, strategy, sports, puzzles, etc.

What is game translation and localization? Game translation is the process of rendering the original language of the game into another language more suitable to the target market.

The success of a game in infiltrating and building a player base within a foreign market hinges on the publisher’s ability to eliminate the language barrier, an element that turns most players away from a game not in their native tongue.

The translation must not only be accurate but also preserve the naturalness and the essence of the original language in the game.

Game translation and localization

When it comes to game adaptation in general, it is important that you know the difference between translation and localization. How do these two adaptation techniques differ?

Game translation means simply translating the original language into another one without making any changes or adjustments.

On the other hand, game localization is a step above pure translation, requiring effective collaboration between the publisher and the translation agency. The localization process may require adjusting many elements to make the game more suitable and relatable to a specific group of gamers without altering or omitting the original spirit and message of the publisher. Elements subjected to changes include:

Audio: When it comes to video games, few people seem to give sufficient credit to the sound department. Every click of a button, every soundtrack, and ambient sound, especially the voices of each character – they all come together to create the allure that makes a game unique. Therefore, publishers often give high priority to adapting the audio in a game such as dubbing dialogues or using specific sounds and compositions that are familiar to the culture of the target market.

Interface: the design and in-game graphics of a game title are amongst the first and most important things players think of when mentioning a particular game. Armed with this knowledge, publishers strive to make their products memorable and approachable for players by tweaking and modifying the game interface. This includes translating and subtitling games.

Game translation example
English translation of the Japanese game title Final Fantasy III

To effectively tackle the two tasks mentioned above, the linguistic expertise of translation agencies cannot be missing. Before characters can be dubbed or subtitled, their dialogues will have to be translated and localized first. Similarly, changing the game menu to another language requires the direct intervention of professional game translators. Because of this, translation agencies have long entered into a mutually beneficial relationship with game companies, helping them achieve great success.

How important is game translation and localization?

Why is this service necessary? As mentioned before, adapting a game to make it more suitable for the target market is a vital task that can have a great impact on how well a game performs in any market.

Game translation and localization can benefit game studios and publishers in a variety of ways, including:

Making the game more fun and enhancing player experience

The language barrier is often identified as the reason behind a player’s decision not to pick up a game title. At present, the number of multi-lingual players is few and far between while publishers can hail from hundreds of countries, all speaking different languages. Translating and localizing video games are the solution to this problem.

Being able to play a game in their native language will certainly bring immense satisfaction to players, allowing them to enjoy the game to the fullest. Meeting this unique demand guarantees a considerable boost in popularity for your game and leaves a positive impression on gamers across the world.

Adjusting cultural elements to fit a specific geographical area

Translation and localization allow publishers to adjust their games to suit different cultural preferences and customs, making them more well-received by local players.

For example, if a character’s dialogue is merely translated and not localized, it would be extremely difficult to do justice to the original spirit and meaning embedded in each line of conversation as these elements are prone to get lost in translation. Therefore, it is important to localize the game by incorporating small but meaningful cultural elements. If done correctly, conversations between characters will feel natural and native-like, just like how they are intended to be in the original language.

Improving player retention rate

Player retention rate is a crucial statistic that can make or break a game. The better the player experience is, the more likely gamers will return for more. Consequently, the best way to build an active and loyal player base while increasing the retention rate is to translate and localize your game.

Happy Gamer with Game Translation Service | Thao & Co.

Game translation and localization process

Each agency will have its own game translation and localization process for video games. However, a standard process often includes the following steps:

Stage 1 – Game assets are extracted and compiled into a “localization kit”

In this step, assets in need of translation will be extracted and compiled into a “localization kit.” Translators will analyze this localization kit to create a translation guideline and keyword glossary to ensure consistency and cohesion during translation.

Stage 2 – Translate and proofread game assets

This step will be carried out by professional game translators with extensive experience and passion for video games. The translation will thereby be of high quality and accurately convey the original message and meaning. The game will then become more appealing and praiseworthy for gamers across the world.

Stage 3 – Make post-translation adjustments

This step will begin after the translation has been completed. The translated game assets will be reintegrated into the game for QA testing and linguistic review. This ensures the game will be free of bugs and the translation actually makes sense.

Video game translation and localization rates

Are game translation and localization services expensive? How are they priced? In general, many factors can influence the price of translation and localization services for video games such as:

  1. ● The language pair(s): The complexity and popularity of the languages can affect the translation rate.
  2. The volume of work: Depending on the length of the content in need of translation, the price may vary accordingly.
  3. ● Game genres: There is an assortment of video game genres, each with its own requirements and challenges when translating and localizing. Therefore, this factor will be taken into consideration when calculating the total project fee.
  4. ● Complementary services: As explained in detail above, translation is not the only thing to keep in mind when adapting your game. To get the perfect version of your game in a new language, it is important to consider localization services as well.

At Thao & Co., we provide not only superb translation but also many other value-added services for maximum clients’ convenience:

  1. ● Voice Acting for video games
  2. ● Desktop Publishing (DTP) for game goods (i.e. packaging, art books, vouchers, collectibles, etc.)
  3. ● Conducting Consumer Language Research on player preferences and behaviors
  4. ● Translating game-related documents and articles on a variety of platforms

Tips to choose a credible translation agency

What do clients need to bear in mind when choosing a game translation and localization service? If you are still wondering about this problem, don’t skip through the tips below:

  1. ● The reputation of the translation agency: The reputation of a translation agency is built upon the service quality that they provide. A reputable agency usually offers good service quality, making them worthy of consideration.
  2. ● The presence of a team of professional game translators with high expertise: The translators assigned to your game must not only be linguistically capable and possess adequate knowledge of the local culture but also be avid gamers themselves. Their passion for video games will make it easier for them to relate with the players, thereby increasing the quality of the translation. With knowledge, skills, and experience, these expert linguists can ensure that your video games are translated to suit your target audience.
  3. Transparent pricing: As mentioned previously, the translation rate can be affected by a variety of factors. Therefore, finding a translation agency with a clear pricing policy while ensuring a high-quality service is a task of paramount importance.
  4. The availability of complementary services: It is recommended to prioritize choosing translation agencies that offer a wide range of services. Apart from video games, you may also want to translate marketing content and articles for social platforms, for example. In this case, it would be more effective to search for an agency that can meet these extra demands. Therefore, instead of spending time looking for two different agencies, you now only need to deal with one. This will help you save time, effort and make it more cost-effective.

Thao & Co. is one of the most credible translation agencies for you to consider when it comes to game translation and localization. 

At Thao & Co., we place great emphasis on service quality. The entire translation and localization process will be done by our team of professional game translators, with many years of experience working with local and international game studios and publishers.

Thao & Co. professional Translation and Localization Services

The game translation and localization process at Thao & Co.

The game translation and localization process at Thao & Co. includes the following 7 steps:

  1. Step 1: Thao & Co. will request the link to the game in need of translation, and note down your requirements.
  2. Step 2: A dashboard will be created which allows you to easily keep track of your project progress.
  3. Step 3: Make payment via your preferred method.
  4. Step 4: Connect with game translators and decide on a team of suitable translators to work on your game.
  5. Step 5: Your project-dedicated ChatBoxⒸ will be activated so that you can communicate directly with your game translators.
  6. Step 6: The translators will begin translating and localizing your game without changing the original designs and features.
  7. Step 7: The final translation will be delivered to you or integrated into your game per your request.

We hope that through our article, you now have a fresh view of game translation and localization, as well as tips to choose the perfect translation agency to meet your demands.

Visit Thao & Co. at our Get a Quote page to receive a free consultation on game translation and localization today!

Game Localization Services in +50 languages

We provide professional Game Translation and Localization Services in more than 50 languages:

  • • English game localization
  • • Chinese (simplified) game localization
  • • Chinese (traditional) game localization
  • • Japanese game localization
  • • Korean game localization
  • • Vietnamese game localization
  • • Russian game localization
  • • Spanish game localization
  • • Danish game localization
  • • French game localization
  • • Arabic game localization
  • • German game localization
  • • Dutch game localization
  • • Catalan game localization
  • • Indonesian game localization
  • • Portuguese game localization
  • • Etc.
Source: Thao & Company
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