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Best languages to translate your game into
Gaming has exploded in popularity, especially with online gaming, streaming services, and affordable options over the last few years. Gaming allows people to have experiences that aren’t otherwise available, enjoy excitement and relaxation from the safety of home, and interact with others globally. While the numbers were already climbing, the industry experienced an additional surge during COVID-19 that drove the projected numbers even higher. In 2019, gaming was a $152 billion-dollar industry, and it’s expected to hit $196 billion by 2022.
With these numbers, gaming companies are looking at many different ways to capitalise on their products. One of the best ways to expand markets is to localise and translate a game into several languages. While many people can get by with an English language game, it doesn’t create a user experience quite like a localised game that is customised to a culture. So, localising can be an incredibly viable and profitable option. Let’s take a look at what to consider before you translate a game, the best languages, and the cost of localisation.
What to consider before translating your game
If you’re thinking about localising your game, you should consider the following things before you actually contact a gaming translation and localisation agency like Global Lingo. When you’re ready, an agency should provide you with an overview of the process and tools they use to translate a game, the timelines, costs, and more.
Look at your competition
Look at what your competition is doing in the localisation space. What languages are your competitors translating games into? Did they do a partial or a full game translation? Looking at your competition will give you a base of knowledge to work with.
Resonate with a global audience: Market research
What’s the market data showing? Consider the nature of the game and research how well it might resonate with a global audience. Does the game concept work in another culture? It might be tougher for an audience to relate to if it has a lot of local jargon and imagery. During the game translation process, these things can probably be modified to make them more applicable to the target audience. Your localisation agency will be able to help with this.
Decide on the localisation scope of work
Localising an entire game involves touching all the components, including the game description and download information, user interface, audio, subtitles (if necessary), online support, code, and marketing content. At a minimum, we recommend translating the game download information and keywords, as over 50% of mobile users download an app based on their first impression of the game on the app product page. Read more about localisation scope further on in this blog post.
Look at the download data
For online games, look at your downloads to see where they’re coming from, and then start analysing the data to search for patterns. Use this data to make localisation decisions. You might be surprised at what you find, such as a language that you weren’t previously considering.
Check out the English proficiency index
When you’re considering languages, another resource to review is the English Proficiency Index. This index looks at the English skills of various countries and regions around the world. For example, the Netherlands currently ranks as #1, so if you’re basing your decision on the level of English, you probably don’t need to translate your game into Dutch. On the other hand, Thailand ranks #89, so you might want to consider Thai.
Analyse your code: Internationalisation
Is your code ready for localisation? Internationalisation, or i18n for short, is the process of preparing software for localisation. It involves analysing and modifying code to handle things that might be different in other languages, such as date and time formats, addresses and phone numbers, measurement units, and more. Going through the i18n process before localisation will save time, reduce costs, and improve time to market.
Make sure you factor in the time it takes to translate the game
Putting together a translated game requires different disciplines, including project managers, linguists, reviewers, engineers, and QA testers. It takes time to coordinate the efforts to produce a high-quality accurate localised game, so make sure you understand how long it will take and build that time into your schedule. Your localisation agency can help you with your scheduling.
The best languages to translate your game into
You can take multiple approaches to decide on the best languages to translate a game into. We wish there was a simple answer, but just like many things, it really depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. So let’s take a look at some of the ways that you can consider to be the best languages.
The best languages by Revenue
One way to look at the best languages is from a revenue perspective. According to Newzoo’s 2020 Global Games Market Report, these are the top markets by game revenue and population. These 10 countries together generate more than $138 billion, which is nearly 87% of the global revenue.
While these countries generate billions in revenue, they can also be a tougher market to crack because they’re saturated. So you really need to do market research to determine if these languages will be worth the effort to translate your game into and maintain.
Another area to explore is emerging markets. Asia is currently the fastest-growing region for gaming in the world, with Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam at the top of the list. In Latin America, the digital market is exploding in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico.
As we mentioned earlier, take a look at what your competition is doing. Along with your market data and trends, you should be able to get some clarity for your localisation strategy.
The cost of translating games
The cost of translating and localising a game depends on many factors, including size and complexity. Here are some other factors that play into the ultimate cost of translating a game.
Scope of game translation work
You don’t need to translate the entire game; you can choose to do a partial translation, which involves localising some components. Here are some options.
- The simplest option is to translate basic information such as the game description, keywords, and screenshots for the app stores/online sites. You can do this for quite a reasonable cost and quickly.
- You can do a partial translation of individual components of the game, such as the screenshots, or add subtitles. While this approach will give your audience an idea of the game, it won’t provide a complete user experience.
- Localise each component of the game to include audio files for a full user experience. A voice actor provides a voice-over recording that captures the characters and intent of the game.
Number of words
The cost of the actual translation depends on the number of words and the language, as languages vary in rate. For example, European languages like Danish and Norwegian tend to be higher, while other languages like Slovak and Vietnamese are lower. Using language tools like a translation memory and glossary can help reduce these costs over time.
Depending on the type of game localisation service you select, you may have other service charges, such as project management, graphics work, voiceover actors, and other costs. All of these factors go into the localisation cost.
Preparing a gaming translation strategy shouldn’t be a quick decision; there are many factors to consider when evaluating languages. Do your research in all areas so you’re best prepared for the localisation process.
Gaming teams at Global Lingo
At Global Lingo, we’ve been working with gaming clients for more than a decade. We have gaming teams in our five global offices and a linguist base of over 6000 people. If you have any questions about gaming localisation, get in touch with us. We’re happy to answer any questions you might have.
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