There are 3.09 billion active gamers in the world. In 2024, this figure is expected to rise to 3.32 billion. PwC’s Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2022-26 reports that the gaming industry could be worth USD 321 billion by 2026. The massive expansion in the number of available platforms is one of the reasons why video gaming has become so popular. Another reason is the continuous improvement in technology and connectivity over the past 20 years. This has allowed video gaming to become a global experience like never before, with many countries eager to challenge the powers of China, the US and Japan. These being the figures, and with such a large increase in the number of users, video game localization is becoming increasingly important: if done well, it allows video game developers to capture a larger share of that market than those who don’t, and to gain numerous advantages.
What is good to keep in mind
When it comes to video game localization, the main objective is to preserve the tone, feel, style and user experience that the game offers. Depending on the type of product, various elements need to be translated, such as user interface information, including player statistics, names of places, objects, maps and non-player characters (known as NPCs), but that’s not all! One must also deal with the localization of any dialogue between characters and requests from NPCs; the text of quests and related information to guide players through the world to be explored; game announcements; and finally, prompts and instructions on how the player will interact with the world. Undertaking a successful localization process means first of all knowing how best to organize oneself. The main items of the plan should include a content analysis, i.e. the definition of the elements to be localized, from dialogue to music; the creation of a localization kit, to bring together everything needed to undertake the project (files, instructions, resources of all kinds) the export of the strings, to produce resource files with the translatable content; the import of the content into a translation management system; the actual localization of the video game, the creation of the localized versions, and finally the testing process, to check the quality not only of the translation but also of the adapted visual elements.
The advantages of video game localization can be summarized with one main answer: more market and economic opportunities. However, there are some even more nuanced ones that are equally important. The first point concerns, as explained above, the expansion of the gaming audience on a global scale. Next, a huge advantage concerns new revenue streams, because by expanding our audience, we obviously increase the opportunities to maximize the potential of gaming. Gameindustry.biz found that in 2016, Europe generated the second highest revenue from both Free-to-Play and Pay-to-Play MMO games, accounting for 17.8 per cent of the worldwide share. Finally, localization allows a given brand to adapt the video game to cultural expectations and norms in order to captivate users. The main objective of localizing a game is to make it culturally relevant: simply put, anything that makes people think the game was not created for the target audience will alienate them from the experience. For example, in Germany, games cannot show blood or gory scenes, while in China, images of skeletons and religious symbols are perceived as insensitive. Looking at the main countries in the world where video games are played, organised according to revenue, one already notices several languages, including Italian, Chinese, English, Japanese, Korean, German, French and Spanish, which are increasingly emerging in the video game landscape, carving out a substantial share of the market.
What are you waiting for? Join the industry!
The video game localization sector is growing rapidly and there are many sought-after personalities and job positions available. In the GLOS course in video game translation we support the professional growth of our students so that they can enter the fabric of the Game Industry with a portflio defined in detail and varied by specialisation.