The growth of the games industry shows no sign of slowing down, and this is especially true of mobile gaming. According to Newzoo, the games market is valued at $108.9 billion in 2017, with the 1.1 billion gamers in the Asia-Pacific region expected to generate $51.2 billion in revenue and make it the largest gaming region in the world. Mobile games alone are expected to account for $46.1 billion, eclipsing both PC and console gaming for the second year in a row.
The most popular games, like Clash of Clans, allow players to play online with people from around the world. However, games like this present new challenges for traditional game development because they must be adapted and localized to ensure the full gaming experience for users of all languages and cultures. Here are some tips to ensure that nothing is lost when translating and localizing games.
Market towards the target audience
How likely is it that Western players would be able to identify Sun Wukong, the “Monkey King?” Although he’s a household name in China and some other Asian countries, his name wouldn’t ring a bell for most Americans. Many mobile game developers base the plots or designs of their games around culturally or historically significant stories from the countries in which they are located. While this may resonate well with local audiences, it can take away from the full user experience when games are introduced to other cultures.
One solution is to replace culture-specific content with characters or stories that will be more familiar to the target audience. For example, China’s most popular and highest grossing mobile game, King of Glory (王者荣耀), features a cast of characters based on heroes from Chinese history and legend. However, in its international version, renamed Arena of Valor, many of the original heroes have been replaced with characters that are more familiar to Western audiences, such as Batman.
The timing of marketing strategies is also a crucial piece of the puzzle, because even spending patterns can change from place to place. In Japan, most people get paid on the 25th of each month, so holding in-game promotions on or shortly before that date wouldn’t be wise, as people would be less likely to spend money.
Finally, a game’s writing isn’t the only aspect that needs to be localized. The quality and tone of its characters’ voice acting is an essential part of a game’s presentation. For example, Japanese games often have hyper-cute character voices, but in many other cultures those kinds of voices lack the same appeal that they have in Japan. NetEase’s mobile game Onmyoji is an example of voice acting localization done right. NetEase used Japanese-style animation and hired well-known, professional Japanese performers as voice-actors, and as a result the game became a huge hit in Japan.
When translating game content – whether it’s subtitles, the user interface, or character voice performances – it is crucial to test that every localized aspect of the game is flawless. Changing the language or cultural elements can result in major differences that affect the game’s overall presentation or game play. Top-notch localization reproduces the intended user experience of the original game while adapting its content to suit a new audience.
When it comes to localizing a game for different cultures, no aspect of its adaptation can be overlooked. CSOFT’s professional teams ensure that every element is localized properly, including those that require transcreation, which is common when adapting gaming projects for specific cultures.