How To Localize Your App Or Mobile Game Successfully

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It seems everyone is playing games on their smartphones nowadays, and that’s understandable with the astronomical rise of mobile gaming since 2014. Furthermore, mobile game revenues have surpassed that of the substantial PC games market.

Demand for entertaining mobile games will only grow in the years ahead. Given the global availability of smartphones, it only makes sense for developers to target multiple overseas territories. Meaning that localization becomes increasingly important – if it isn’t a vital part of development process already. We’ll delve deeper into achieving successful game localizations while avoiding potential pitfalls.

Plan Ahead And Pick Your Tools

Game development is risky and difficult. Therefore, avoid jumping straight in without carefully considering all aspects of the development process beforehand.

Prepare a game design document (GDD), as this encompasses important details about your game before you begin working on it. Also, it will help keep you on track while avoiding costly mistakes. After that’s done pick a game engine, asset creation applications, repositories, translation management tools that suit your budget and team.

Pick The Right Languages

You may have already picked several languages for your game and listed them in your GDD. These could be languages you’re fond of or spoken in countries you’re interested in targeting. But you may be wondering which languages offer the most ROI that will help cement the success of your mobile game.

English, particularly US-English still remains dominant for many mobile games. However, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean are worth considering due to the size and profitability of their respective markets according to a recent Statista report. If your budget allows, translating your game into Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Russian, and German may prove fruitful and ultimately expand your audience.

Assemble Your Localization Team

Now that you’ve settled on your tools and languages, it’s time to put together your team of expert translators. Even if you’re on a shoestring budget, we recommend hiring experienced freelance translators or reputable localization services instead of relying on machine translation. While machine translation handles simple wording adequately, it often fails with complex text strings and capturing the nuances of the target languages.

Ensure that your translators have a record for accomplishing projects on time and within budget. They should also comprehend the vision and tone of your game, and capable of localizing it without diluting or losing its original meaning. Moreover, your translators should have a good understanding of the cultural norms, temperament, and language nuances of the target territories for more enjoyable and quality-driven localizations.

Deal With Feature Creep And Start Translating Early

Even if your GDD and project schedule is watertight development is likely to take longer than you originally planned. It’s not uncommon for staff members to go on sick leave, or for important game engine updates to stall development temporarily. But feature creep is the bane of developers everywhere; thus, contingency plans are essential for dealing with this likelihood especially when working on complex and content-rich games.

Considering all these potential eventualities during the development cycle is sobering. That’s why it’s wise to start the translation process early to avoid extending development longer than it should be. Also, take into account that proofreading and editing translated content will often undergo up to five revisions. Having your development staff work concurrently with the translation team is the more productive way to go, and increases the chances of a successful localization.

Test Your Game And Localization

You’re about to launch your mobile game, and you’re hoping it will be a huge hit with players. But this would be a huge mistake without proper testing beforehand. Firstly, you need to determine if there are any gameplay, collision, framerate, rendering, and audio issues. Since you’re releasing a mobile game, you should ensure that it isn’t suffering from usability issues, crippling performance dips, and excessive battery consumption.

Secondly, test your localization by carefully checking for linguistic and typographical errors, UI layout, color, wording, culturally relevant design elements, and country-specific currency and date formats. Taking care of all these small details will result in a more polished and well-received end product.

Final Thoughts

The game localization process is long and may even seem arduous to many newcomers. But this doesn’t have to be the case with careful planning, the right tools, and an expert localization team by your side. By following these simple steps and – adopting – a detail-oriented approach yields huge benefits for mobile game developers and their international audience.