How to Localize a Game in 2023: A 7-Step Guide and More Answers!
It is a smart move to localize your game into different languages. This will help you increase the number of your downloads and you will gain more market share.
In this article, I will walk you step-by-step to answer the question of “How to localize a game?”.
These steps are based on my 10-year experience of working on different localization projects and cooperating with teams from different languages.
So, How does game localization work?
These are the main 7 steps to follow to succeed in your game localization project. This is not an inclusive list and every step may have details to be considered. You can use these 7 steps as guidelines to understand how to localize a game.
Let’s get started!
Step 1: Define the Languages you Need to Localize Into
You don’t need to localize your game into all the languages under the sun. Choose the languages and markets that can make your company profitable and can contribute to your long-term success.
For example, the below table shows the top 10 countries by game revenue. The revenues are based on consumer spending in each country and don’t include hardware sales, tax, business-to-business services, and online gambling and betting revenues.
Also, you may consider the countries that have an evolving number of smartphone users. They are markets you may think to enter as smartphone users spend more time holding their phones.
Also, check the analytics of your game downloads and see which countries have the most downloads. Then localize your game to the languages of these countries as people prefer to read the information in their native language, hence playing games in their native tongue.
Step 2: Decide if you need to update the content before you start
The game content may include elements such as images, voice messages, players’ instructions, strings, characters’ dialogue, or game descriptions.
Some of these elements will need to be adapted for the target markets. You may need to replace the images you are using if they don’t fit the markets you are localizing for.
Maybe the cartoon draw has negative cultural effects on your target markets.
Even the characters’ names may need an update to ensure the players feel they are close to their culture. For example, a game character named “Mostafa” is more appropriate for Saudi Arabia than a name like “John”.
Make sure to cross-check the content before you start localizing your game.
Step 3: Make Sure Your Code is Ready for Localization
You will need to integrate the game content with a Translation Management System to localize the game fast and accurately. If your game code is not compatible, then the process can be harder and can cause issues in the future.
From the start, make sure your code structure follows the localization standards of the platform your game will be played on.
For example, if your game will be played on Android smartphones, make sure you follow the Android localization standards from a coding perspective.
Building a solid localization-compatible code will ensure your content is fully integrated with your translation management system and you don’t miss a string or more during the localization procedures
Still, wondering if it is worth it to localize our game? watch this quick video.
Step 4: Prepare a Brief for the Localization Team
You need to have clear instructions ready for the localization team; the ones who will translate your game into the other languages.
Preparing a brief can help cut the back and forth between you and your localization team. Also, it will help keep consistency with your brand and across all the languages you localize into.
The brief can include things such as the length of the strings, the tone of the language, how to handle characters’ names, the dates formats, and any other language-related instructions.
Also, it is recommended to include a description of the game itself inside the brief. Like how the game actually works, the story behind it, or what makes the players win.
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Step 5: Hire a Reliable Game Localization Company Or Freelancers
Whether you work with a company or a group of freelancers, every localizer you work with should be:
- Native speakers of the language they will localize into.
- Aware this is a game localization, not translation.
- Familiar with your translation management system.
- deadline-committed to help you launch the game on time.
Working with a game localization company can help you minimize the cost of project management. The localization company will have tested and proven teams in different languages and work with localizers they trust.
This will save you the time wasted to hire, test and communicate with different localizers from many languages at the same time.
But working with freelancers has its advantages as well, you will have direct contact with the actual people localizing the game. So, it will mean faster and better communication.
You have to think about this decision and make a decision based on your available budget and resources.
Step 6: Test the Localized Copy
Different stakeholders are involved in the game localization process, such as developers, localizers, graphic designers, and others. It is positive to test the localized copy of the game before launching to the target markets to spot any errors that slipped.
The testing team will check everything works as it should be from a functional, linguistic and cultural perspective.
The functional testing will check if buttons are working correctly, links are directed to the correct parts of the game, and other functional stuff.
The linguistic testing will review the language used for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and wrong translation issues.
The cultural testing will review the images, graphics, and all other visual elements to ensure they don’t hurt the players in the target markets.
Step 7: Monitor after Launching to the Target Markets
Games localization is tricky after all. You still need to collect feedback from real players. They can discover things that were not obvious during the game localization process.
You do this by following the conversations of the gamers around your game and seeing if they complain about anything. Cultural complaints are way more important than any other ones.
They can hurt your game reputation.
How long does it take to localize a game?
A game localization can take from 3 to 6 months. This refers to the complete process from preparing the content to testing. Also, the number of languages will affect the time it takes to localize the game.
It is better to have a plan with milestones before you start to localize the game.
For example, how many weeks should it take to localize the content only? When should the game be ready for testing? When should every language be ready for the target market?
Make sure to consult with the teams involved in the process to have an accurate estimate of the time it will take to localize the time.
How can you make it easier to localize your game?
By now, you see the answer to the “how to localize a game” is not straightforward and may seem complex. However, you can make it easier by:
- Pre-panning the process: decide the languages, milestones, and budget before you start.
- Using native speakers: they know their target language better than anyone else.
- Preparing clear instructions: This means fewer questions are asked down the process.
- Using localization technology: use tools to manage the process and ensure quality.
Now you know how to localize a game? The localization process has technical, linguistic, and cultural aspects.
You need to have a solid development team to take care of the technical part in terms of writing a code that is compatible with the other tools you will need to use down the road.
The linguistic and cultural aspects can be handled by a professional language team, aka translation team.
You can’t miss it if you work with native speakers who have the right qualifications to help you localize your game without linguistic or cultural flaws.
TranslationPartner has the experience and resources you need to localize your game into different languages and increase your downloads and gain more market share. Contact us in case you need help with that.