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The Top 10 Languages for Localizing Your Mobile Game

Peer Reviewed by jbadams, Dave Hunt, Brain


localization mobile games App Annie languages translation revenue statistic
App Annie has provided useful data that gives insights into the breakdown of revenues between platforms and countries. After reading this article you'll have an idea of the countries you want to localize your game for

4: Adsense

Every third client requesting localizations from us at Alconost asks a very basic, but very important, question: “And what other languages do you recommend translating my game/app/site into?”

To answer this question at least for developers of mobile games, we researched sales figures for mobile games on Google Play and the App Store in different countries. We were so surprised by the results that we made an entire video:



In this article, you’ll find more information about the top 10 languages for localizing mobile games.

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Let’s start with the behemoths:

Japan – the biggest source of game sales on both Google Play and the App Store. So while Japanese buying preferences can seem unusual to outsiders, localizing your game and promoting in Japan can bring fantastic results.

U.S. — no surprises here. English is a “must” for any game that is sold internationally.

Korea is ahead of even the U.S. in Android game sales.

For perspective: Just three countries – Japan, the U.S. and Korea – account for 75% of game sales on Google Play!

China is present only in the App Store for now but iOS sales have been impressive indeed. Google recently announced its return to the Chinese mobile app market and it will be interesting to see the numbers for Google Play in China a year from now.

Germany and France look small compared to the others, but for developers in North America and Western Europe, understanding French and German tastes is usually easier than Korean or Japanese ones. And who knows – maybe your game will strike a chord and be a massive hit in Germany or France?

Don’t forget about Taiwan, which despite its small size is number 10 on the list. Did you know that Taiwan uses Traditional Chinese, which is very different from the Simplified Chinese used on the Chinese mainland? A person from Taiwan is lucky to understand even half of something written in Simplified Chinese!

If your localization budget allows it, you might also consider markets that do not make the top 10 but show good growth in mobile sales: Russia, Latin America (Spanish) and Brazil.

So here is our list of the top 10 languages you should consider when localizing your mobile game:
  • Japanese
  • English
  • Korean
  • Simplified Chinese
  • German
  • French
  • Traditional Chinese
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Brazilian Portuguese
Data courtesy of App Annie.

P.S. We made this video in our free time because it seemed neat. We like to make videos “just for fun”: check out our video about $100 as seen by modern artists and video infographic about the cost of adding a second to site loading times. If you have interesting, unusual or unique data or ideas that could help us to make another video, let us know!

About the Author(s)

Kirill Kliushkin started out as a localization project manager at Alconost translation agency, and then performed various marketing and business development activities as well as co-founded and built the video production company Alconost Video (http://alconost.com/video). Currently, the COO of Alconost (http://alconost.com)

License

GDOL (Gamedev.net Open License)

3 Comments

Dec 30 2014 10:51 PM

As a Taiwanese I would say Simplified and Traditional Chinese is not that different. Most of us can easily understand 80% of it. But some proportion of the market will be irritated by Simplified Chinese and might even delete it on sight. Some of us have the impression of Simplified Chinese software equals malware, and other people just want to read what we are familiar with.

 

My personal preferences will be Traditional Chinese > English > other languages I read >>>> do i must use this? >>>> Simplified Chinese > other languages I don't read.

 

There are some automatic tools that can convert Simplified Chinese into Traditional with reasonable quality, so the cost of having a Traditional Chinese version should be minimal and it will make us happy (Although the enormous number of characters we have might be demanding on the memory side).

 

Hong Kong also use Traditional Chinese.

Jan 19 2015 02:41 AM

As a Taiwanese I would say Simplified and Traditional Chinese is not that different. Most of us can easily understand 80% of it. But some proportion of the market will be irritated by Simplified Chinese and might even delete it on sight. Some of us have the impression of Simplified Chinese software equals malware, and other people just want to read what we are familiar with.

 

My personal preferences will be Traditional Chinese > English > other languages I read >>>> do i must use this? >>>> Simplified Chinese > other languages I don't read.

 

There are some automatic tools that can convert Simplified Chinese into Traditional with reasonable quality, so the cost of having a Traditional Chinese version should be minimal and it will make us happy (Although the enormous number of characters we have might be demanding on the memory side).

 

Hong Kong also use Traditional Chinese.

说的对!

Jun 05 2015 07:16 AM

To fellow devs who're in need of a l10n tool to manage their game localization projects: try the localization management platform POEditor

It's the best thing out there for collaboratively translating software products.

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