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How important is localization?

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This is one area I have 0 experience in. When I release an app for iOS or Android I just put in the English description. But does it really help much to localize the decription or even ingame language to different languages, and if so, which languages are worth bothering with? This is assuming you have a resonable popular game.

 

Can you really bump up your downloads by having more languages? Do some countries not even show your game if the description or ingame language is not translated to their language? (Like if you are browsing the Japanese Appstore?) 

 

The reason I am sceptical is because I don't think I have ever personally read the description of a game, there are mostly just boring sales pitch words as far as I can tell. I just look at the screenshots to see if the game looks interesting. But maybe I am the exception. 

 

Do anyone know about this?

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Do you want to sell your game to a few thousand Americans or to tens of thousands of people around the world? America has only 350 million people but the world has 7 billion. More languages = more markets = more sales.

So far as what's important, that depends on your game. Some games to very well in Korea or only well in Germany or only well in Russia. This is why bigger companies pay a ton of money for market researchers and focus groups.

The classic set of languages most American studios target first is the so-called EFIGS set. English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish. Remember that much of Canada speaks French and Mexico speaks Spanish, so even targeting only a North American audience needs three of those languages.

German is beneficial not only because Germany is a huge video game market but also because it's a hood language to verify the graphics side of localization. German translations will typically be the longest snd hardest to "fit" due to how many very long words the language has. Lots of people think Asian languages will be hard but usually they're not that bad at all compared to German since they won't usually require you to change or update UI layouts so often.

eSports, competitive, and strategy titles especially are huge in Korea, so it's often another popular language to target. Japanese and Chinese are handy to have. Russian is another good one. Polish, too. It all depends on the markets your game appeals to, though. A Western-style RPG might to just fine with only EFIGS snd maybe a couple other European languages tossed in.

Simple games that don't need a lot of text can go without. If the only thing you have lots of text for is your tutorial, make a less awful tutorial that shows rather than tells (nobody wants to read that crap even if they understand it). You can bridge language barriers pretty easily with a good art team if only a few key points of the dialog are all that critical.

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But does it really help much to localize the decription or even ingame language to different languages, and if so, which languages are worth bothering with?

 
It only matters if you want your game to be popular in non-English-speaking countries. If you don't care about non-English-speaking markets, then fine.
You mustn't assume that everyone who might enjoy your game behaves the same way you do when considering games. You may just look at a pretty picture and decide, without reading any words, that the depicted game appeals to you. But a lot of people don't do things the way you do.

maybe I am the exception.


I'm sure there are others who do it the way you do. Just not everyone. Words matter to many people. Edited by Tom Sloper

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Generally, games I've worked on fall into either of these categories:

 

- Targetted product: English-only

 

- Possibly popular or culture-agnostic product: EFIGS

*Worked mostly with AAA or high-budget games.

 

My point is, if you're having a lot of success with english-only, keep at it.

If some people are starting to poke you for a translation, localize in that dialect only (chances are that you've tapped into a culture-bound key to success without your knowing). It happened to me once: my game was attracting unexpected attention from a German 'niche crowd', and the localization was worth making, but it doesn't happen often (you should ignore Tagalog/Philippines: they'll always ask for localizations, but they will never buy anything).

 

If you have a larger scale product in hand and need the extra sales, and you're sure that your product translates well to other languages without too many culture-centric themes, go EFIGS.

(English, French, Italian, German, Spanish). 

 

If you know what you're doing, do some Asian loc. You can get a LOT MORE sales, but this assumes your game can be localized for the Asian crowd (not just translated).

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Thanks! If you don't decide to localize the whole game is it at least a good idea to have the app description in the EFIGS languages? Would that help anything to reach these other markets? Do your game even show up in the appstore for example in non-english speaking countries if you only have an english description?

 

I tried to browse the appstore and change my store to different ones like germany and russia and look at the biggest games like Angry Birds but they still only showed in full english for me no matter what store I choose so that can't be right?.

Is it possible to browse the store how it really looks in those countries?  

Edited by mileafly

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I would recommend against localizing the store only. This could cause confusion and expectations from your players, which in turn could be met with stern low ratings when they realize the game isn't localized (you know how these players can be eh!).

As for whether they show in different countries, it depends on what countries you've selected.

 

Angry Birds DOES show as english in all stores currently. You're not wrong :)

But I would assume the bulk of angry birds sales to be usa-centric (with some parts of Europe). I could be wrong though.

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Angry birds definitely is localized. 

Seems It can be a bit tricky to change the language in your app store though, took me a few tries and re-logins before I got it to change properly.

I think I had to also change the region of my apple id.

I'm currently seeing the description in french now smile.png

 

Most people seems to say you always should localize for at least EFIGS if you want to do well in those markets. (Apple recommends it among others)

If not the game, at least the app description.

 

Personally I think how important it is also depends on the genre, and your target audience.

 

One of our best selling games is english only, it's a bmx action game, and even though there is a fair amount of text in tutorials and challenge descriptions, it seems to do pretty well in non-english markets too.

A lot of players hardly ever read any texts in games anyhow, even if they are in their own language...

If the game is well designed, it works fine anyway.

 

But translating the app description is pretty cheap, and any little thing you can do to convince people to at least try your game is a good thing smile.png

Edited by Olof Hedman

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German is beneficial not only because Germany is a huge video game market but also because it's a hood language to verify the graphics side of localization. German translations will typically be the longest snd hardest to "fit" due to how many very long words the language has.

I wonder if it would be possible to split those words with a hyphen? I was talking to a German friend once about those "long words", it turns out they're actually separate words, it's just that the space is omitted. Of course the splitting idea only works if you can afford to have multiple lines...

 

Spanish also tends to have phrases which are much longer than their English counterparts, which can put a dent on your available screen space.

 


Lots of people think Asian languages will be hard but usually they're not that bad at all compared to German since they won't usually require you to change or update UI layouts so often.

From a technical viewpoint, the biggest issue would be memory usage (it's not the same having tens of characters than having thousands), which on mobile is usually a big issue (every byte counts, both due to download time and due to running out of space in the limited phone's internal memory). But yeah, from an interface issue Asian languages are usually the easiest to deal with (just make sure the resolution is large enough to make the characters readable).

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I wonder if it would be possible to split those words with a hyphen? I was talking to a German friend once about those "long words", it turns out they're actually separate words, it's just that the space is omitted. Of course the splitting idea only works if you can afford to have multiple lines...

 

You can, but if you want to do it right, it's not straight forward to do automatically. You want to prioritize hyphen on the actual word parts, but to do that, you need a german dictionary!

Second priority is splitting on syllables of a word. Even harder to automate, though you can approximate it by simply splitting after the first consonant after a vowel.

Though just splitting after a consonant (and ignoring syllables and words) will likely produce lots of "weird" splits.

 

Or you need a german speaker who can do it manually, but then you are back on manual work...

 

Other "fun" languages are hebrew and arabic. Can your layout handle all strings being reversed? smile.png

 

Man, languages are tricky.

Edited by Olof Hedman

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If you have 3 languages in a game, say English, German and French. Do you upload 3 different versions of the game or do you need to have all languages in the same game? Also if you are supposed to have a single version of the game containing all the languages how do you detect what country they bought it from so it starts up in the right language?

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