Gaming is one of the few global industries, budding with loyal fans who care for their favourite titles. Which means simply localization isn’t enough. You’ve gotten to nail it.
Localization doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves from video game developers and publishers, but it’s something you can’t afford to neglect in today’s industry. Poor localization can make your games more expensive to produce, hurt sales, and create all kinds of bad presses. Yet we see big and small studios making the same mistakes over and over again.
Here are some most common game localization errors that you need to know of.
- Cutting corners on translation
The fact is, cutting corners on translation creates more work further down the line — resulting in spending more money.
This is not just a game localization problem, but rather common to any project that requires accurate translation. Forget about machine translations, and don’t even think about free tools like Google Translate. They are a world away from producing the accuracy you need but are also a security threat to any sensitive content. Everything you type in is handed across to the translation provider (e.g. Google). This becomes their data, and they can do whatever they want to do with it.
In reality, if you cut corners on translation, you will end up paying more for it later!
2. Ignoring cultural factors
Going for accurate translation is not the only goal of localization. You do need to make sure that your titles are culturally appropriate to each market — or you risk alienating one of your target audiences. Much of this has to do with the actual content of your game: the story, the characters, and the events that take place.
Watch this insightful video on how “culturalization” plays such an important role in the localization of any game.
3. Embedding text into the game’s core files
Among the most common errors we frequently see, is that text is hard-coded to the core files. This will include details like the title of your game, the text menu, and all dialogue printed on-screen during the gameplay. It can be tempting to directly embed this text into the code of the game — especially if you launch it in one language first.
If anything, you would want to store all text as variables in separate resource files. In this manner, nobody needs to plough through the source code to add translated text to the game. You may simply add a new variable and put the translation in your dedicated tab. This not only makes potential assignments simpler for your manager, but also for the translators you call in.
4. Thinking of localization as the last step of game development
Maybe the most expensive mistake you can make with game localization is to let it sit at the bottom of your to-do list. It’s easy to assume this as the last stage of production, but that would be a costly assumption. A perfect example is the modest description of the game; crucial to selling your game, but
something which is often overlooked. All these words are the only way to persuade new players — especially if you’re not creating a renowned brand name (e.g. Star Wars, Final Fantasy, etc.).
Truly localization must be done at the very beginning of game production — and you need to devote sufficient time and budget for the entire process. In this way, you can avoid additional workload and costly mistakes much farther down the track.
And there you have it, some of the most common game localization errors. These are all avoidable with the correct planning in motion from day one and the game localization company with both the correct expertise and methods.
By Prajal Narain