linkedin px ads

The Game Localization Process & 22 Tips to Make it Easier

The Game Localization Process & 22 Tips to Make it Easier

Font size:

Localizing your game to match your global players’ cultural, linguistic and regional expectations is a surefire way for you to break into new markets with amazing success.

Although you likely have a general idea about the ins and outs of the game localization process, chances are, you’re missing some pieces of the puzzle. For example, you might not know exactly what information to provide to your localization team.

That’s why in this article, we outline the process from start to finish, so you’re on the right track to localizing your game and engaging gamers everywhere! Read through to the end, and you’ll walk out with over 22 actionable tips that will help you speed up the delivery of your project and minimize localization costs.

Strategizing For Localization

Before you get down to the nitty gritty of localizing your game, get a clear picture about your overall objective of your up-and-coming project and strategize accordingly. Doing so will ensure you remain on schedule and within the confinements of your budget. Here’s what you should do:

1. Determine your target regions

Market research and data collection are your best friends during the planning phase. You might choose to complete this step yourself, or alternatively, you can have a localization company do it for you.
Keep in mind that choosing the ideal regions for expansion isn’t simply a matter of selecting the most lucrative markets for game localization (which you can find in our game localization definitive guide). Instead, there are a large number of factors to consider prior to selection. You can try the following tips to make the selection process easier:
Calculate cost per install (CPI). Find the average cost per install for the regions you’re considering tapping into to determine the cost of user acquisition, using third-party intelligence data. To calculate CPI, divide total ad spend by the number of new installs in a specific time period.
Examine market potential. Collect data about the number of total downloads and revenue per game category, again using third-party data. That way you can find out whether gamers of a particular region would be interested in playing your game in the first place.
Check for market size. Are there enough people to download your game in your region of interest? You could use Facebook Ad Manager to answer this obviously important question.
Study your competitors. If there’s high competition to break into a particular region, choosing to go for less obvious markets might work better in your favor. You might prefer to keep away from small markets where competition is intense for your game category.
Consider your revenue model. Think about where you generate the majority of your revenue, be it in-game purchases, ads or anything else. From there, find regions for expansion that support your current revenue model. For example, expanding in regions made primarily of iOS (vs. Android) users, such as Japan, is a smart move if you’re relying on in-game purchases for revenue.

2. Identify what needs localization

When you’ve selected your regions and languages for localization, you need to find precisely what needs localizing and what doesn’t. When in doubt, always consult with game localization experts.
Other than the game dialogue or voice recordings, these are the two key areas that you need to localize:
In-game elements. Locate the items that your players will interact with the most and that are most integral to your game. That can include character, location, item and weapon names from the game, or even the game title.
It’s not always obvious if these require localization or not, and sometimes they should be left untouched. For example, names tied to historical figures (e.g., Alexander Graham Bell who appears in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate) or specific nationalities (e.g., Lara Croft’s whose father is of English nationality) aren’t typically tampered with.
Non-linguistic elements. Find the more technical components you might need to localize. For instance, dates, time formats, currencies and units of measurement tend to vary from market to market and should be accounted for. Make sure these are extractable from your code, so you can transfer them for localization to your translation software easily.
Note down any abbreviations that appear in your game too, since those change depending on the language you’re translating into. Sometimes, your team might need to localize an abbreviation or translate it in full, if it lacks a localized equivalent in the language.
It’s not always obvious what requires localization in your game and what should be left alone. You’ll only know for sure by conducting your research carefully. Don’t forget that when it comes to localizing your game successfully, the devil is in the details. Your players will have a more immersive gaming experience provided the details we’ve outlined match their expectations.

3. Consider the technical details

Technical aspects that must be addressed before localization include the code and format. Not every game developer plans for these early on, which can cause major troubles and delays down the line.
Code. Strings and content are extracted from the code before translation can begin. This will be easier or harder depending on how your code is designed. Hard-coding is a no-go if you want to make those items easily removable. If you hard-code your game at the beginning, certain text pieces might go untranslated or show up as a bunch of unintelligible text.
Tip: Employ soft-coding practices from the earliest stages of development.
Format. Text can expand significantly following its translation, and that’s particularly true when localizing a game for French, German, and Spanish markets. If you’re translating your game into these languages from English, your text can expand by up to 30% which might mess up with your game’s interface.
Tip: Provide ample room in the design between the different elements.

Building a Localization Kit

Once you’ve selected markets for localization and accounted for all of the above, make this information accessible to your localization team via a localization kit (or LocKit). If you haven’t found the ideal team to localize your game just yet, we’ve outlined the criteria to keep an eye out for in our game localization definitive guide.
A LocKit is an all-in-one localization guide for your team in which you provide instructions, files and specifications about the project as a whole.

The benefits of preparing a LocKit include:

● It ensures the smooth communication between teams.
● It accelerates project speed delivery.
● It saves you both time and money.
● It significantly reduces localization challenges from arising later on.

How to build a LocKit

Here’s everything you need to include inside and tips for making the most out of your LocKit to take advantage of its benefits:
A language list. It goes without saying that you must specify the languages for localization, alongside the region and dialects spoken in that region. For example, if you’re translating your game into Spanish, don’t forget to mention whether your target demographic resides in the US, Spain, or Mexico.
Files with what needs translation. After extracting your strings from the code, move any text that will be localized inside a stand-alone file such as on Excel (other file types, such as DOC, JSON, are okay too). Additionally, include the voice-over files, if any. Use a separate tab for different types of texts (e.g., dialogues, tutorials), set out any dialogue in the order it is spoken (otherwise the translators will struggle making sense out of the dialogue) and provide as much context as you can via screenshots and comments. Also specify what shouldn’t be translated.
Previous game translations. If you’ve localized your game before and want your team to adhere to similar or the exact same stylistic standards, you should include older game translations in your LocKit. In case you were dissatisfied with the quality of your older translations, your team can also assess what might have previously gone wrong and address the issue.
Style guide brief. If there are no game translations available, it’s recommended to include a style guide. Depending on your audience and your brand’s tone of voice, a different style of communication is required. Specifying all spelling, grammar and punctuation rules you’d like your localization team to follow in the LocKit is crucial. This tool is particularly useful to include if your game is text-heavy, such as a story-driven game.
Glossary. A glossary acts as a dictionary for words and phrases that show up multiple times in the game (such as character names, as we’ve specified above). If you’re localizing a game sequel specifically, it’s expected to include previously translated terms inside the glossary.
Glossaries are crucial, since they can enhance the consistency of all game-translated content. For example, the term “semi-automatic” should be consistently translated as such and never as “handgun”. Otherwise you’d risk interfering with the gamers’ experience. A translation memory tool can help with maintaining a high level of consistency throughout the game.
Information about the software. You should provide intel about your software’s platform, manufacturer, version, and purpose. That way, the project manager can have any questions answered before the localization process can begin.

The Actual Localization

The actual localization process will look different depending on the game you’re localizing, but generally, it can be divided into the following stages:

1. Developing familiarity with the game

Before your localization team can dive into the translation, they need to understand what makes your game unique. They might need to play through your game to familiarize themselves with the plotline, characters, and of course, the game’s language. If your game is part of a larger game sequence, the localizers can play through the prequels as well. You might need to allow plenty of time for the team to go through your game, especially if it’s too large in size or has multiple locations to explore.
Tip: Ask your team to provide you with reports about the playthrough progress on a daily or weekly basis.

2. Translating the content

The actual translation process can begin after all strings and content have be transferred to a translation management system. With access to a LocKit, and particularly with the aid of the style guide and glossary, your team can translate your game content with consistency. Access to a translation memory will substantially expediate the process, since it streamlines the translation of any terms, such as character names, that show up with great frequency.
During the same phase, a second pair of eyes, like an editor or proofreader, can cross-check the consistency of the translation. Although you’ll need multiple game translators, one editor will do. Just keep in mind that translating the voiced portions of the game might take significantly longer than the translation of the user interface sections.
Tip: Give the localization team the opportunity to see the final translation on screen, so they can make any needed changes before the quality assurance phase.

3. Recording voice over

When the voiced sections have been translated properly, that is with utmost consistency and accuracy, only then should you start the game voice over recordings. You might have to mark lines from the script to indicate whether they should be time-synched (when the dialogue matches the action scenes) or lip-synched (when the dialogue matches the speaker’s lips).
Additionally, it’s important to provide your localization team with pictures and descriptions of the characters (i.e., mention age, gender, voice type, background, etc.), as well as sample voice files. This way, you can ensure your game localization partner hires the best-fitting voice actors for each specific role.
Tip: To get an accurate quotation estimate, provide a detailed description about the audio, mentioning the number of voice actors, line and word counts, and maximum time per line.

Conducting Linguistic Quality Assurance

After the game’s all set up, following the integration of both the translations and recordings into the game, your game should undergo linguistic quality assurance (QA). Although some developers choose to skip this stage in an effort to save time and money, that’s highly discouraged. Have a mix of both strong linguists in the target language, as well good game players do the QA.

Quality assurance is useful for ensuring that:

● the game is devoid of any grammatical, spelling, or punctuation mistakes;
● there aren’t any remaining untranslated strings;
● the dates, time formats, currencies and units of measurement are correctly localized;
● all terms have been consistently translated; and
● that the game feels natural to your native players.
Tip: Try and keep your priorities straight during QA. Make the most important fixes first, such as the correction of bugs, and only then make time for implementing other general suggestions your team has recommended.

With Pangea Global, Your Game is in Good Hands

We hope you’ve taken multiple actionable steps that you can start applying today. Are you excited to learn more about game localization? Don’t forget to check out our game localization definitive guide, where you’ll learn everything there is to know about game localization, including the top 10 gaming markets, the biggest localization challenges that developers encounter, and so much more!
If you’re ready to start localizing your game and make it accessible to new players worldwide, Pangea Global could become your new go-to game localization partner! With Pangea, you can transform your international gamers’ experience for the better, at the most irresistible rates in the market. We’ve localized numerous games in the past and our highly experienced team of 900+ translators can take your game to over 75 new markets, as quickly as you need.
Share this article!
Pangea Localization Services