Digging Deeper into Game Localization – What you Should Know

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Planning to make your game appropriate for overseas markets? It’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of game localization. In our previous post, we covered the basics of what’s involved in the overall process but this time round, we’re giving you a lowdown of the specifics.


There’s a lot more to video game localization than just translating words. Did you know that you have to consider fonts when translating? How about graphics and elements? Were you aware that these features would also need localizing too? There are several factors to know when planning a localization project, ones that will save you a lot of time and hassle in the long-run. Once you’ve decided to adapt your game for international markets, here are a few factors to keep in mind…


Decide what Needs Localizing

Before diving straight into the localization process, make a strategic plan and specify which exact elements of your game need translating or localizing. These might include:



• User interface (menu, commands, item descriptions, dialog boxes etc.)

• Sounds, subtitles, video clips

• Visuals (images, graphics, animations, logos, characters)

• Scripts, instructions, text boxes, dialogue boxes

Prepare your Files

One thing we like as a game localization company is having all your files ready and prepared for translation. Once you know which elements are to be adapted, send us the correct resources and ensure that they are readable and editable. The required files usually include:



• DOC files

• Xlsx file

• XLIFF

• SRT file

• PSD file

With the right files in hand, you can save time communicating with your LSP and overall, speed up the localization process. It’s also recommended that you provide the translators with reference material or style guide. This will help linguists understand your game a lot better and know exactly what you want in terms of context. Your style guide should detail:



• The game’s world and overall story

• Tone of game

• Game walkthroughs

• Writing style and terminology (for character bios, game description, plot, etc.)

• Character/weapon/object information

• Character tone of voice and vocabulary

• Game rules

• Target audience

• Words that shouldn’t be translated

• Curse words allowed or not allowed?

Do a Quality Check

If you’re getting your script, or any other content translated, it’s a good idea to have the source content in English first as most LSPs will be able to handle this. Having the content in English from the start can help avoid any future inconsistencies and errors in language. It’s also a prerequisite that you have the source content proofread to check for any spelling or grammatical mistakes. LSPs like Pangea always do a quality check to make sure that your source content is accurate and suitable for translation before going ahead.

Carefully Select your Languages

When translating content, it’s important that you are aware of screen space. Some languages contain more words and are longer than others such as Arabic which has more vocabulary than English and automatically becomes more extensive when translated. Simply changing fonts, specific wording or font size can completely alter the design of your UI. When selecting languages for localization, it’s therefore important to also consider user interface design and any other elements that might contain text. In order to avoid a messy translation job such as cut-off text or a muddled layout, make sure to carefully select your languages for translation, test them and check that you have adequate white space for language extension. Most game localization services have a dedicated team for design and they should have the talented individuals to adjust any design inconsistencies.


Consider Cultures

If your game has elements relating to specific cultures, be cautious when it comes to targeting new locales – you don’t want to offend anyone. Specific terminology, idioms and phrases aren’t the only features of a game to be translated. National flags, symbols, colours, icons and currencies also need to be localized in order to avoid upsetting overseas users. Green for example is an accepted colour in Islam but represents adultery in China. Bear in mind to watch out for jokes or puns that might agree with one culture but not with others. When localizing your game, it’s therefore best that you choose elements that are universal and features that are accepted in all cultures.


Wondering which languages to target? Have a read through our post about the top languages for translation to know which ones are most powerful and commonly used worldwide…
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Our 6 Ultimate Tips for Game Localization

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Want your game to reach a global audience? Do you plan on expanding your brand? You can market your game to new international markets by having it accurately localized and adapted to the appropriate culture. By successfully localizing your game, you ultimately increase your number of players and revenue. But there are several steps towards successful gaming localization. Here are our 6 ultimate tips that will make the process easier…

1. Build a Localization Strategy

When you want to take your business to new levels, it’s important that you have a well-planned strategy in hand. Entering a new market can be risky, especially if it’s a foreign one. Conduct research about that specific market and make sure it’s the right one for your game. Will the localized game be successful among that foreign audience? Is there a demand? Most importantly, will it sell?


You need to understand the specialties of your target market such as regulations, content restrictions and gaming habits. Video game features or their context may conflict with different cultures or there may be iconography or imagery in a game that’s sensitive to some locales. There are some games like online poker that are banned in certain territories. That’s why it’s vital that you research the cultural, social and legal particularities of a market before localizing your game.

2. Consider Costs

Expanding your game globally means coughing up some cash. For this reason, you need to review your options and costs. Translation is usually charged depending on the language in question and number of words. Make sure to determine the precise countries you’ll be marketing to before making any haste decisions. For instance, some translation agencies will charge more depending on the complexity of the language such as Scandinavian or Japanese. Subject matter also plays a role when it comes to costs. Some language service providers may charge more depending on the topic of the translation. If the number of gaming translators is scarce, for instance, the agency will charge more.

3. Know the Language Your Localizing Into

Before going ahead with your localization, make sure to evaluate the details of your target language. For example, English is a very compact language. It requires fewer words. But if you translate it into Arabic or German for example, there will be extra and longer words. On the other hand, the translated phrase is usually shorter when adapting from English into Chinese or Japanese. When the final translated result is longer or shorter than the source text, it can affect the existing user interface of a game. Extra and longer words typically require more white space. This then affects the graphic aspect of your game and can ultimately cost more if it needs adjusting.

4. Evaluate the Localization Team

Localizing your game isn’t as easy as 1,2,3. Nor can it be achieved by a lone ranger. Translation and localization can only be achieved by a team of language experts. It’s a cross-functional process that includes linguists who are proficient in their native language and specialists in the video game or iGaming sector. As you are aware, localizing your game isn’t just about text. Images, icons and animations also need to be localized which means you need a team of talented artists and designers on board. The entire localization team must not only be game-savvy but experts in your target language too. There needs to be a sense of organization – everyone must have their individual responsibility and most importantly, there should be a final QA for every process.

5. Use the Right Tools & Technology

When translating and localizing your game, it’s essential that the appropriate tools and technology are used. Try to avoid machine translations as these most often result in translation mistakes. Most game localization companies will use Translation Management Systems like XTM to avoid errors and save time and costs. This software helps ease the localization process for translators with the help of translation memory which captures repeated words and phrases for future re-use.

6. Measure your Success

Once your game has been fully localized and unleashed to your new target demographic, it’s time to track and measure its success. Did your strategy work? Analyze the game’s performance by both country and language and also use social media to track its popularity. Comments on Facebook and Twitter can help you determine whether your game was a global hit.

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