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Video Game Localization: Your How-To Guide

What is video game localization, and why is it important?

Did you know that Grandview Research estimates that the global video game market size was approximately $220.79 billion in 2022? While this number certainly is staggering, we have a single question to ask: How would you feel knowing that you could significantly add to this figure, profiting and pocketing a significant boost in revenue just with one single step? 

We bet we know the answer—you’d be ecstatic. The good news is, you can make that goal a reality with a single internationalization concept that’s changing the game: video game localization. This is known as the process of optimizing your software for different languages and dialects across the global gaming market. 

It’s not just limited to game content, however. It can extend into the actual gameplay and user experience, all of which can be tailored to suit the expectations of a target market of your choice. 

Taking the time to enhance the gaming experience in a target language using localization services can result in widespread adoption, brand advocacy, and more effective marketing efforts overall. In this article, we’re exploring how to localize your gaming experience for a target audience, the critical steps needed to do so, and how the linguists at OneSky can help make your game a success for your industry’s global audience. 

How to Localize Your Video Game

Wondering how to localize your video game for an international audience? We’ve boiled it down to a few key steps: 

1. Run a Content Analysis

Running a content analysis is a critical first step to preparing your work for new markets. Video games are extremely complex and require a comprehensive approach to fully gauge the scope needed for your localization efforts. Relying on skilled project managers who have dealt with in-depth localization projects before is a strong approach to this foundational task—or you could take it to a localization team who could provide a specialized audit. 

Opting to go with a pro early on can set the stage for product success, giving you access to a native translation management system and process that’s meant to help you have the highest degree of control possible over your quality assurance process. The team at OneSky is able to do this, transforming your gaming experience for the global stage at an affordable up-front cost. 

2. Develop a Localization Kit

Now that you’ve done your content analysis step, it’s time to move into evaluating your localization kit. Normally, this is provided by the vendor or department if you choose to go with a service that does everything in-house. 

However, if you’re doing the prep steps on your own, you can create a localization kit yourself. The two main components you’ll need include the project specs (which you’ve determined in step one) as well as an in-depth cultural analysis to assess the differences by region in a certain target market.

3. Localize Your Coding

Localizing your coding, otherwise known as software localization, is a great way to create a completely optimized video game experience. While it’s easy to overlook this step, there are several critical elements that can and should be localized in your code and source files, including: 

  • Symbols: Consider auditing symbols used in your game files to make sure that they are congruent with your target market. This is a helpful step in a seamless play experience. 
  • Images: Not all images will create a relevant impact on your target audience. A common example would be North American high school scenes. This specific level of secondary schooling would look much different in other countries, such as China or Spain, which means that cut scenes including this type of graphic may be a candidate for localization in the source file or a complete swap. 
  • Language Space: Subtitles in different languages can take up varying amounts of space. For example, a sentence in English may require more character-based space when localized for a Japanese market. Accounting for this in your files can create a more seamless viewing experience. 

As you move through this process, we encourage you to create and maintain a style guide to keep your localization efforts as consistent as possible across your video games and any sequels that may occur. Your game developers and coders can work collaboratively using this document, creating the best experience possible for your future gamers. 

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4. Integrate with a Translation Management Software

The gaming industry is extremely competitive—often requiring you to bring your attention out of the localization process and back into other areas of your business. If you’re looking to manage your time more effectively while still creating a localized game, we recommend going with a professional video game localization service that is familiar with the native language of your choice. 

While machine translation can be effective, the most strategic and effective way to manage your video game localization process is to integrate it with translation management software (TMS). Rather than source out to a third party, OneSky offers the opportunity to integrate with a native TMS platform, connecting you with every step of the translated text process for your mobile game or software. 

5. Send to Your Translation Team

After you’ve confirmed the scope of your project and your software localization steps and spec, it’s time to send it off to the translation team. This group of experts will work on proofreading and dubbing, helping you to execute your localization strategy with high-quality cultural references and nuance. This step in the translation process may be supervised by a variety of people, both on their end and on your end. 

6. Regional Localization

Regional localization is an important consideration to make as you work to create a high-quality localization process. For example, while you may be working to optimize your content formats in Chinese, there may be additional dialects that are region-specific to consider—such as Tiashanese, Hokkien, or Hangzhou. This is something to evaluate across any area of localization or region, as you’ll want an end product that is specific and nuanced for your target market. 

7. Quality Assurance

As you go through the steps to localize your game text and assets, you’ll want to prioritize quality assurance processes. The video game industry is full of enthusiasts and career gamers who can boost or limit the reach of your game with a single review—so taking the time to get small elements (such as game text or voice-over) correct and properly localized is essential. OneSky understands this and prioritizes quality assurance at every step of our collaborative process, including you through our native user-friendly platform for all localization management-related tasks. 

8. Integrate Translation into Your Game

Once the pre-translation strategy steps for your game are complete, your translators will finalize the localization-inspired translated text for your final product. Game coders and devs can then integrate this into the game, duplicating the original gameplay for a seamless experience for your next group of players. If you want to go the extra mile, you might consider using back translation before coding your finalized content—although it’s not required. 

OneSky connects you with 1,000+ translators who have mastered 50+ languages in your industry of need, leaving you with the best and most comprehensive results possible. 

Reach Broader Audiences with OneSky

Video game localization offers you the opportunity to make your software a tremendous success—winning the hearts of new gamers in your target audience and providing a seamless gameplay experience. Creating a scope of work for your localization process, finalizing a workflow, and establishing a translation team are all critical steps to make your localization effort a success. OneSky simplifies this process for you, however, and can connect you with industry-leading translators who can take your work to the next level. 

When you sign on with OneSky, you can enjoy a completely in-house process—from translation to TMS and collaboration—all housed in our proprietary OneSky platform. We do the heavy lifting for you, and you wind up with a product you love at a fraction of the time and cost it would traditionally take. For more information, please connect with our video game translation specialists today. We look forward to serving you!

Mandy Fong

Head of Sales, OneSky

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