We firmly believe that localizing your game is essential for reaching a wider audience and securing its success. The games industry has grown and become increasingly competitive; therefore, developers and publishers are seeking new markets to enter. And while localizations are beneficial to both the creators and audiences of games, there are also several cons that we’ll be covering below. We’ll start off with the positives and then highlight some of the negatives to help give better insight on how to approach game localization.
One of the key benefits of localizing your game for several overseas markets is the exposure this will bring to your game and ultimately your brand. Most gamers prefer to play games translated in their respective native languages, especially if these are narrative-heavy experiences. When overseas gamers can enjoy and properly comprehend your game, then there’s a higher probability that they’ll turn into fans that’ll spread the word about your product locally.
These enthusiastic international fans will usually inform others about your game by posting on social media, forums, and streaming gameplay videos. This will help your game gain a foothold in overseas markets, and may even result in media coverage in countries you may have least expected. While advertising could potentially produce similar results, word-of-mouth marketing is far cheaper and used effectively by some of the world’s hottest brands.
Having foreign fans and media outlets evangelizing your game will not only affect your company’s bottom line but will also increase its status. There’s hardly an engaged gamer in any part of the world that doesn’t know of Blizzard Entertainment, id Software, and Ubisoft due to their propensity for releasing quality games globally. Now, newer and smaller studios may have a harder time attaining the same level of prestige, but a reasonable amount of street cred or cult status is within reach.
As we established earlier localizing games isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a time-consuming and costly process, which will work out better for professionally produced titles and not for asset flips, game jam entries, games with offensive content, hobby projects, and prototypes. Many low-effort, distasteful and unpolished games are either banned or buried by the algorithms on Steam, whereas other digital storefronts carefully curate their offerings. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to localize games that won’t stand a chance on any of the mainstream portals.
It makes good business sense to target as many overseas markets as possible, but there are a few caveats. Your point-and-click adventure game may succeed in a country such as Germany where the genre is popular, yet fail miserably in Thailand where the genre is relatively unknown. Since game type popularity differs by country, it’s best to do your research and learn about trends in the global games market. Once you know where your game will likely resonate with gamers, it’s time to focus your localization and marketing efforts exclusively on those territories.
Ensure that you’ve properly budgeted and planned ahead for every aspect of the production of your game. Failing to do so will result in delays, additional costs, hurt team morale, and possibly derail your project. You’ll also need to prepare for potential hurdles during the localization process, as game translation challenges are more common than you’d think. Moreover, make sure that you’ve properly vetted and briefed your freelance translators or translation service to ensure a smooth localization process.
Localization is a worthwhile endeavor and one of many important stepping-stones for your game and company’s success. But you’ll need to consider if the game you’re making and potential target markets are a good fit for localization. We hope that the list of pros and cons we’ve listed above will help you make a smart decision.