The huge size and popularity of the global mobile game app store market will total around $102.9 billion in 2017 (Global Games Market Report by Newzoo, 2014). This means a lot of profit can be generated for game developers who have an especially playable app.
But tapping into the global market means that you, the game app developer, will have to look beyond just one language and one country as the target market for your app. And why not? Localizing a game and making it available to new foreign users leads to substantially higher profits and a stronger reputation.
However, undertaking a successful mobile game app localization process can be tricky. Several challenges have to be taken into account so that you don't make mistakes during the process. Here are a few of them to help you correctly navigate the mobile app localization process:
The Best Target Languages
According to research undertaken by App Annie, the most profitable language to have a mobile game app in -- across the iOS App Store and Google Play -- is Japanese, followed by English and Korean. These three languages account for 75% of profits generated by games on Google Play. Other languages to round up the top ten target mobile game app localization languages include Chinese, German, French, Russian, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish.
In determining the target language of your mobile game app, look for the most profitable foreign markets. These would be the countries that are relatively unacquainted with your game and other mobile game app competitors.
The Localization Team
There are many advantages to hiring a translation agency to carry out your mobile app localization project. An experienced, trustworthy provider can accurately translate your mobile game app into one or more target languages. They can also deliver a quality translation that your foreign users will have no problem understanding. Not only that, the right localization team will make sure the voice and tone of your game is aptly communicated in the target language, preserving the style of the game.
Beyond the Translation
Essential to obtaining a high-quality translation is making sure your translation team is aware of the particular styles and nuances of the gaming universe. While you can get a good translation without such an understanding, you risk obtaining a dry, boring translation that doesn't have gaming appeal.
The whole draw of a game is to build an attractive new little world for the user that allows for escapism and entertainment. If the lively animating effect of the mobile app game is at odds with a staid, literal translation that lacks colloquialisms and slang, then the result won't work.
One way to avoid this from happening is to have your translation team become intimately familiar with your game history and characters. Have them learn everything about your game, from game description to glossary lists and screenshots. This will help them come up with the colorful words and character exclamations that help account for the style and presentation of your game.
The Importance of Timing
Localizing a game can take up a lot of time since the process has to be methodical and thorough. It's standard in the industry to have the translated content be proofread and edited at least 4-5 times for a quality result. We recommend you start the mobile game app localization process as early as possible. Do this while the app is still in development, so that developers and translators can work together to deliver a quality product.
Of course, because strings constantly change during development, this might make it hard for your translators to stay motivated and deliver their best work. They will not like knowing some of their hard work is being eliminated. However, having your translators and developers work together during the development stage keeps the overall costs of localization low.
Opting to translate a finished mobile game app instead can be expensive as you may have to rehire your developers to change the game to suit the localized version.
The Importance of Culture
It's common to laugh at poorly localized games with titles that sound funny or even offensive to the audiences of foreign countries. Because you don't want to make the same mistake, take care to make sure your localization team knows everything possible about the target country.
Your mobile game app localization team should be made up of native speaking translators who are experts about the culture in question. This is essential to having them accurately translate the universe of your game to their native peers. Be prepared to have large amounts of your content, such as jokes and specific expressions, changed to suit the particular humor style and slang of your foreign target audience.
In such a case, you will have to trust your translators to adapt or create new jokes that appeal to your new users while keeping to the general look, feel and style of the game.
The Bottom Line
Trust is key when choosing you localization provider. Make it a point to check the testimonials and reviews of past customers of the translation agency you are researching. This is the only way to know that your mobile app game is in good hands.
Trusting the experience of the localization team you hire is the surest way to overcoming the obstacles that will inevitably pop up during the localization journey. By researching localization agencies, you'll be sure to find a reliable company that will do a stellar job in translating your mobile app for the world.