Game Localisation: Essential Information to Know Before You Begin (Part 2)

Why should localization be a key strategy for game development companies? Data from Mordor Intelligence states that the Southeast Asia Gaming Market is poised to grow at a CAGR of 16.2% by 2027.

Today, there are no specific locations where video games are most popular. Of course, Asian countries contribute the most to the gaming industry, but there are other regions as well where video games are played on a regular basis.

When you step into the international markets, you must ensure that you localise your gaming material in a way that should not be offensive to the target audiences. You might think that English is one of the most common languages spoken worldwide (and it might be). However, many game players don’t choose English as their preferred language and prefer their native language.

Since context is essential for a seamless gaming experience, without it, your game won’t be able to attract players and keep them interested. The next thing to focus on will be the cultural factor of the game. A video game that addresses the local culture and adapts to the native elements is more likely to be accepted by the gaming community and have a solid user base.

That brings us to the initial point – Don’t mix translating a game with game localisation!

The results could be heart-breaking when you only translate the game content without proper localisation. You don’t only lose the profitability of the game but also lose your user base, which could negatively impact your image in the gaming community.

What Happens When Game Localisation Fails?

Many funny yet critical instances have taken place in the gaming industry that shows how game localisation is crucial for a business. Japanese companies developed most classic video games released during the 1980s and 1990s. They used literal translation methods to translate most of their in-game dialogues and texts.

NES’ Pre-Wrestling

One such example of bad game translation is NES’ Pre-Wrestling. Whenever a player defeats the opponent, the text displayed on the game screen is “The winner is you.” It became one of the mocking statements for years among the game players who played this epic game.


A modern-day example of poor game localisation is PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). Despite using the most advanced technologies, the game company made some errors that led to a significant loss in the game’s popularity. One localised version of PUBG launched in China named “Game for Peace” was censored in the country. The reason for the restrictions was that the players could still shoot each other in the game, while the name of the version was “Game for Peace.”

Also, since China does not approve of any game that includes spilling blood, the gaming company had to change that feature, too. In the updated version, the finished players wave goodbye instead of bloodshed and receive little green sparks over their bodies.

COD: Modern Warfare 2

Another example of poor game localisation that sparked controversies is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, one of the most popular storyline shooting games of all time. In one of the missions in the game, there was a character line that said, “Remember, no Russian!” The line meant that speaking Russian should be avoided; however, when it was translated into Japanese, it turned out like, “Kill them, they are Russian.”

Well, the game was censored in the Russian version for this reason. Also, there were so many translation errors like this that many players had to seek help to finish several of their missions.

To overcome the flaws, the company had to launch an updated game version; however, it lost much profits and user base when Sony Russia decided not to launch it in the PlayStation store.

What Do You Need to Consider Before Starting Game Localisation?

The sooner you start understanding the essentials of the game localisation process, the less would be the chances of committing costly mistakes during your journey. Here are some crucial things that you need to consider before localising your game:

Set the Stage by Understanding the Basics

Project planning and management are important before executing any project. An effective game localisation management strategy will help you address all the resources, components, and tools you need for accurate translation.

Understanding the targeted region’s local market and cultural setting is crucial. For instance, you must get an idea of specific legal regulations or content restrictions. Besides that, you must know about sensitive topics regarding geopolitics, history, religions, or any other aspect that might require adjustments.

Moreover, apart from content translation, you also need to consider how you will localise marketing materials, product packaging, social media posts, website copies, etc., to deliver a smooth user experience.

Internationalise the Game

One essential step before localising your game is the internationalisation process, which makes the code independent of the elements you need to localise. These elements include the date, time, numbers, currency, etc., which have varying formats for different locales.

Eliminate Hard-code Text

Using hard-coded texts in the core files is one of the mistakes that can make video game localisation a challenge. Instead, it’s better to segregate the text into strings and place them into the files for easy translation. If you want to change the game content in the future, you can simply modify the strings and apply the modified content to all the different localised versions.

Moreover, implementing the Unicode Standard can be another best option. It is a universal encoding scheme used for text and other written characters that can consistently exchange text data and encode multilingual text according to the localised versions of the game.

Be Flexible with the UI Design

One of the issues that you might face while localising your game content is the different formats in which varying languages are written. For instance, suppose you are translating the content into a language that follows right-to-left written form, such as Arabic or Hebrew. In that case, you must ensure that your game’s UI design can adjust the changes in that particular text direction.

Similarly, Asian languages, such as Chinese, have complex characters that are shorter in length but must be shown in a larger font size to be readable.

Your game interface must be flexible enough to adapt to such differences in textual styles so that the written content does not look unpleasant. You can minimise translation by using globally familiar icons in place of text wherever possible. It can help you avoid linguistic bugs while localising the game.

Provide Translators with Background Context

The best way to resonate with your target audience is by using phrases, quotes, or references that are local to them. When your gaming content communicates like a local, the players feel that the game is made only for them.

For that, you can rely on the in-context translation by providing your translating team with as much contextual information as possible to preserve the storyline’s original intent while translating it into another language. You can work with the translators to offer them an idea of what you want to show in your game’s storyline and how that should be conveyed while keeping cultural preferences, interests, demographic data, and other aspects of the target audience in mind.

Moreover, if your game is a sequel to the existing version, you can suggest the translation team review the previous localised content. It will help stay consistent with the type of language and content used so that your loyal fans get the same seamless gaming experience.

Localise Your Game Content Cost-effectively with Into23’s Localisation Services

Game localisation is a complex process. It seems that all you need is translating your game content into the language of your target audience, but it does not work like that. You need to understand the cultural nuances of the local audience and analyse the current market trends before releasing your game. It will help you show the game’s storyline and other elements in the best way possible and avoid scope for misunderstanding. Get a quote now and ensure that your game plays perfect globally.

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