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The 8 Most Frequent Game Localization Languages & How to Choose

The 8 Most Frequent Game Localization Languages & How to Choose

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What are the most common languages for game localization and how do you choose languages for your specific needs and budget? If you’re kickstarting your first game localization venture with these questions in mind, you’re at right track.

In this article, you’ll learn which markets account for 80% of the gaming industry’s revenue and the most popular localization languages you can start translating your game into today. But, before we dig into the latest industry insights, let’s jump into the 3 elements to factor in before choosing the localization languages that’ll be the right fit for you.

How to choose the right languages for your localization needs

There’s no single universal approach to choosing the right languages for game localization. Instead, your final choice of languages must align with your business goals and revenue model, your game’s particularities and the market’s expectations. Let us explain.

1. Gauge your game’s localization success based on revenue model

Audiences from different language backgrounds enjoy different types of video games. However, depending where they are from, gamers also display different purchasing habits. Your chances for success are higher if you’re localizing your game for a region where gamers love playing video games similar to yours. But you also can’t forget that your game must support your business revenue model (ads vs in-game purchases) in that locale. Therefore, when trying to determine whether your specific game will see localization success in a specific region or not, think game genre through a revenue model perspective.
If you rely on ads for revenue and need to get your game downloaded as many times as possible, see whether your game genre sees great numbers of downloads in a particular region. For example, if you’re localizing a Hyper Casual, Action: Arcade or Puzzles game, German, French or English (for all of the US, UK, and Australia) might be your go-to localization languages. Speakers of those languages download these kind of games the most.
If you rely on in-game purchases for revenue, check that language speakers from a specific geography make frequent in-game purchases for your game genre. For example, say that your game is an MMORPG or a Party Battler game. In these cases, you might want to expand your reach to Korean, Japanese, Chinese and Taiwanese audiences, because they make the most in-game purchases for those game genres.
Note that the picture might look somewhat different depending on the platform your game is on (e.g., Google Play and Apple App store for mobile games). So look out for the download and in-purchase data for your desired platform.

2. Make an educated choice based on what the competition’s doing

Your game’s genre and revenue model are important considerations, but so is knowing whether it’s reasonable to compete against certain industry players in a region. Don’t jump straight into translating your game in the most obvious languages – be realistic, first.
Whatever area you’re expanding into, chances are you’re competing against companies with stronger prospects and greater localization budgets. Ultimately, if competition is off the charts in a specific region for your game genre, it might be wise to switch territories. Many gaming companies these days employ expansion strategies with a focus on less competitive markets, such as Arab-speaking or smaller European countries.
By studying your competitors’ localized games, you can also identify missed opportunities, such as whether their games aren’t meeting the locals’ expectations. To understand what we mean, read on below.

3. Figure out different markets’ expectations

Different markets have different expectations with regards to localization. To put it plainly, gamers from certain regions expect their video games to be localized partly, while others expect them to be localized in full. This is good news for companies localizing their games on a budget!

Since game localization comes in different levels, as a game developer, you might choose to stop at one level or go all the way. As you can expect, the more levels you clear, the greater the expense (but also the more immersive the gaming experience!). But how far you choose to go also depends on the nature of your game, such as how text-heavy it is.

Level 1: localizing your keywords, screenshots, app descriptions, and potentially the title. Not only does this give you the opportunity to test your game’s viability for expansion in a region, but is also a massive boost to your game’s downloads count.
If you’re localizing your game for a geography with high English language proficiency levels (the Netherlands being the highest), you might not need to localize your game even at this basic level. Nevertheless, if you can pull off a localized gaming experience that exceeds gamers’ expectations, you can still be a winner in the end. Check out the EF English Proficiency Index to see the speakers’ proficiency level from highest to lowest by region.
Note that, for most languages, skipping this level is counterintuitive. That’s because data has previously found that people don’t place a purchase from a website (or app) unless it’s presenting information in their native language.
Level 2: localizing in-game text and other elements (such as numbers and units of measurement). If your game contains more text, going to this level is typically required. You might not need go any further, even if your game features voicing. Some countries, such as Poland, don’t expect the localization of English voice-overs and are happy with text-only localization (including subtitles), for example.
Level 3: localizing voice-over. Providing gamers with a fully adapted video game by including high quality voice-over in their mother tongue, is usually key. That’s especially true for big game titles, where the localization stakes are much higher. Countries including France, Italy, Germany and Spain have the highest expectations and prefer fully localized voice-over.
For more information on which parts of your game you might need to localize and what the overall process looks like, you might want to read The Game Localization Process & 22 Tips to Make it Easier.

The 10 biggest gaming markets

In order to select a language for game localization, you might want to consider the markets with the highest buying potential first. The data that follow are from Newzoo’s 2022 insights.
RegionRevenue (USD)Players
1. China 45.8B744.1M
2. United States45.0B209.8M
3. Japan20.0B77.1M
4. South Korea7.9B34.1M
5. Germany6.6B49.5M
6. United Kingdom5.5B38.5M
7. France4.1B38.8M
8. Canada 3.4B22.0M
9. Italy3.0B36.1M
10. Brazil2.6B102.6M

The most frequent game localization languages – what are they?

Let us now finally turn to the current most popular languages for game localization. Plus, we’ll uncover some important facts about each language. You’ll usually find the languages that follow paired into groups, namely (E)FIGS and CJK.

EFIGS languages

EFIGS stands for English, French, Italian, German and Spanish. It represents the minimum of languages you need to localize your game into to access most of the European market (although it can go beyond just Europe).


English grants you access to one of the largest gaming markets in the world, that is the USA (although no longer in the number one spot, as it used to until fairly recently). Localizing your game into English is highly encouraged, since many gamers choose to play English-language video games provided the localization is of high enough quality. If your aim is to expand to both the US and the UK and your game contains audio, localize your voice-over into American and British English, respectively.


French opens the door to many fruitful locales and not just France; some are Belgium, Switzerland, a few African countries, and Canada. French-speaking gamers have high localization expectations, meaning you can’t cut corners if your goal is to make your game a raging success. Nevertheless, competition is high amongst gaming companies for entering French markets, which you might want to factor in.


Italian is spoken in Italy, Switzerland, and San Marino. Although it used to occupy a higher spot on the list, its popularity has plummeted significantly for economic reasons. However, given its older glory as a localization language, Italian gamers are used to playing localized video games of the highest quality. You’d need to do the same to keep up.


German is currently the most popular European language for game localization, following English. It lets you access a broad audience of gamers residing all over Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Lichtenstein. The English level of German speakers is considerably high. Therefore, you might want to choose an approach that matches your priorities and budget before going all-in with your game’s German localization.


Spanish is the official language of many countries of the world, including Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and Spain. In addition, Spanish speakers make up almost 20% of the USA population, which sits at the second most dominant region on Newzoo’s list. Therefore, by translating your game into Spanish, you could be tapping into one of the most prominent gaming markets.
You might also want to consider expanding to the Latin American market, since it’s growing at an explosive rate. Keep in mind, however, that Spanish dialects come in different shapes and forms, and so you need to choose the right dialect depending on your chosen region for expansion.

CJK languages

CJK stands for Chinese, Japanese and Korean, which are your go-to languages for expanding to the Asian region.


Simplified Chinese (the script of Mandarin Chinese) is the most commonly spoken dialect of China, sitting at the top spot on the Newzoo list. It’s incredibly challenging for gaming companies (particularly non-Asian ones) to localize their video games into Chinese, given the major differences between the Chinese and other cultures. However, there are more barriers to entry, since all video games entering China have to undergo an official approval process, that can take up to weeks to complete. Therefore, you’d be required to meet a ton of localization requirements and be extra cautious to successfully penetrate this market.


Japanese is one of the most sought-after languages for game localization, given that a great majority of people in Japan are massive gaming lovers. In fact, it was Japanese developers themselves that put out the first ever localized video games in history (who soon came to discover that localization is far from simple). Localizing Japanese video games for Western developers is rife with challenges, and even key players in the gaming industry have failed in their attempts. Just like with Chinese, exercise great caution when translating your game into Japanese.


Korean is the third most popular Asian gaming language. Despite Korea’s overall small population, its gamers can definitely be described as hardcore as those over in Japan. The competition to enter the Korean market has risen significantly, however, and a thoroughly calculated strategy is needed to do so with success.

Localize your game with Pangea in all these languages and more

Are the languages you’re considering localizing your game into included in this list? Whether your strategy is centered around targeting the most lucrative localization languages or the more lowkey ones, one thing is for certain – you’ll need an experienced localization agency to make it all work out.
At Pangea Global, our vast game localization expertise (Merge Stories, Board Kings, and the House of Fun being some of the games we’ve handled) and language mastery in 75+ languages make us a safe bet for any game localization endeavor. To get the bigger picture of game localization, don’t forget to check out our Game Localization Definitive Guide next!
Want to know more about our processes and recommendations? Hit the button and find out today!
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