In the current generation of video games, one of the biggest facets of the industry is the appeal of the multiplayer option. Because of the rise of online matchmaking, video game genres from fighting games to first-person shooters now have an entirely new aspect to them: playing with people from around the world, rather than just whoever else is in the living room. The idea of cross continental play among players may have at one point seemed ridiculous, but it is commonplace now.
But in order for this type of global multiplayer to even be viable, a game needs to be adapted for each region in question, and the more regions that a game is planned to release for, the more time and effort is required to have an end product that can appeal to everyone.
The effort that goes into quality localization and translation of games is not a fixed amount, it’s something that shifts and changes based not only on what type of game is under development, but also to what extent the game is being localized. There are a multitude of different languages spoken around the world and a subset of varying dialects within those languages. A particular example of globalization in the gaming industry is also one that owes its very existence to the advent of online matchmaking: Riot Games.
Riot’s flagship of League of Legends, which holds the title of most played game worldwide, is a prime example of diligent and effective localization, and it is in direct relation to these efforts that it can make such a claim.
Because of the sheer popularity of League of Legends, Riot has established many different servers across the world in order to make the gaming experience as smooth as possible for their innumerable players. And these servers exist all over the world. They have servers that cover Europe, South Korea, North America, Oceania, and more, including their most recently established one in Japan. Across all these different regions, League of Legends has been translated into 15 different languages, and that doesn’t even account for the servers that Riot does not directly host in both China and South East Asia.
Though a MOBA game perhaps doesn’t feel like a project that would require a lot of textual translation, that is in actuality not the case. There are a tremendous amount of things that have to be covered for such a translation to be successful: item names and descriptions, ability names and descriptions, masteries, the nuts and bolts of the mechanics themselves, as well as the written lore and back story of the numerous people and places that exist in the in-game universe.
Once more, it must be taken into consideration that this game was not merely translated from one language to another, but was translated many times over to be accessible to as many people as it is.
Going The Extra Mile
Even after Riot has translated their game as many times as they have, the job is never fully complete. MOBAs are a very unique type of game in the sense that they are constantly being updated and patched to ensure that the experience of playing them does not become stale— League of Legends has already received 16 patches this year alone. To announce these changes, patch notes are regularly released, and with it, a fresh batch of translation to do.
The multiplayer option for companies in the gaming industry is one that requires a certain amount of investment in order to make quality translations, but done correctly, it is an investment that can pay off in massive dividends.