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What Is Video Game Localization And Why Does It Matter?

Video Game Localization
What Is Video Game Localization And Why Does It Matter?
on October, 10 2017

Video game localization is the process of translating your video game to a particular locale, for sale in that region. Localization isn’t just about translating your game content to another language, though.

The purpose of localization is to ensure that your game works seamlessly in the translated language, offering an easy and enjoyable gaming experience.

What is Video Game Localization?

Video game localization is the process of adapting your game's content to a target locale’s language, legal and regional format requirements, as well as cultural sensitivities.

It includes translating game text, art assets, audio transcripts and other game assets. The process also involves altering portions to accommodate differing format requirements (currency, date, etc.) and cultural sensitivities.

Video game localization cannot be accomplished without its other two counterparts: Culturalization and Internationalization.

Related Post: Translation and Localization: What's the Difference Between the Two?


Translation and Localization


Culturalization allows gamers to engage with the game content without cultural disruptions. Content culturalization is an important aspect of video game localization to make the game congruent and potentially relevant in the local culture.

Your localized game should be sensitive to the target market’s cultural belief systems, history, religions, ethnicity and geopolitical reinforcements.


Internationalization is the process that enables game localization to take place seamlessly. Internationalizing your game will empower its code, architecture and user interface to process and render game content in multiple languages. The main idea is to eliminate the existence of any element in the code base that differs by locale.

Video Game Localization Steps

Video game localization is achieved in seven simple steps:

  1. Identify Localizable Content
  2. Define A Localization Process
  3. Extract Localizable Content
  4. Export Localizable Content
  5. Translate Content (Text, Audio, etc)
  6. Import/Integrate Localized Content
  7. Test Localized Content

Localization Steps

How Is Video Game Localization Different?

Video games are different from other software products because they belong to interactive publishing. Also, they contain multimedia elements (images, text, sound) that are all subject to localization.

In addition to the usual practices adopted for localization, you must take into account screen translation, typically done in the form of subtitling and dubbing.

The key priority of software localization is functionality, but in a game, you should achieve this along with a good measure of creativity and originality.

Therefore, standard practices are not always transferable to games, especially when your goal is to preserve the gameplay experience of the original version.

There are specific practices to be adopted for localizing audio, video, animation, player input and other multimedia elements.

Related Post: Modified Versions of Western Games Produced for Arab Nations


Video Game control

Why You Need Professional Video Game Localization Services

Game developers often try to use localization companies who are not experts in game localization. Even worse, some may end up localizing on their own, using freelance translators or Google translate.

Translators may not be gamers and therefore, have no knowledge of game terminology. Developers are not translators and may have no idea how translation works! Such constraints may lead to low-quality video game localization or even end up breaking your localized game in some cases.

You should invest in professional video game localization services offered by experts in the industry who understand game terminology and are also linguistic experts.

Work with them from the design stages to make sure your game is localization friendly. Localization companies employ translators who are linguistic experts and are in tune with the target language’s modern slang as well.

Why Does It Matter?

If you’re into video game localization or a game developer, you must be familiar with the old game, Zero Wing, which is, to date, remembered for its infamous video game translation. The Zero Wing is an old shooter game well known for its line, “All your base are belong to us.”

Game Localization Error

The correct translation from Japanese should have read, “All of your bases are now under our control,” but poor grammar crept in! The phrase went viral in 2000, generating several internet memes and animations starring the slogan.

It’s pretty clear that not much attention went into script translation, bringing out several internet and real-life jokes. Well, this was in 2000 when the gaming industry had still not reached epic proportions globally. But now, in 2017, the industry has billions of gamers from different parts of the world, and video game localization matters more than it ever has.

Global Market For Video Games

As per a recent global games market report, released by Newzoo, the global market for video games is estimated to reach $108.9 billion in 2017.

The figures are for 2.2 billion gamers from across the globe. APAC territories will comprise 47 percent of the total revenue and stand at $51.2 billion in 2017.  


Game Localization Market


It is evident from the global projections that the market is multilingual. Therefore, video game localization, done right, will help you tap the huge global market.

Related Post: 5 Major Benefits of Mobile App Localization


App Localization

Stay Ahead In A Competitive Market

If you are a game developer, there are two major reasons for you to consider video game localization:

  1. You have a target market that you wish to cover and therefore you want to localize for that region.
  2. You realize that your game (developed in a particular language) is already popular in another region and therefore, you are interested in video game localization.

There are billions of gamers across the globe, but the competition is also fierce! The gaming industry is famous for its players becoming fourth-party developers.

Open source models of game design and development have encouraged many players to become contributors. As a result, several games are entering the market every year. 

Apple's App Store has 90,000+ game apps, which stands at a growth rate of 1,400 percent from the initial launch. So, stay ahead of the competition, and aim to increase your market share in the international market.

Increase Your Return On Investment (ROI)

Distimo, a publisher of app statistics, reported that a week after localizing an iPhone app, downloads in that country shot up by 128 percent. In addition, the revenue increased by 26 percent.

Inspired by these findings, David Janner, a specialist in App Store optimization and marketing strategies, conducted experiments in localization.

He found that, without localization, the downloads figure for an app stood at 3,000. After localization, they went up to 23,000 downloads. So, that’s an increase of 767 percent! Over seven times what they would have without localization!

It’s no surprise that video game localization is fast becoming mainstream.

Keep Your Gamers Satisfied

You should make sure your game stands out in the target market. The best way to achieve this to ensure that your gamers find maximum satisfaction playing your localized game. Players enjoy a heightened gaming experience when they play in their native language.

Studies reveal that game apps have seen their ratings improve tremendously after being made available in localized versions.

Mobile games comprise 42 percent of the total games market! Therefore, it’s essential to localize your game app for better ratings, more downloads and increase in revenue.

Video game localization can help in delivering high-quality playing experience for your game players.


Localizing your game for 40 different languages alone can help you grow your business in 155 countries! Video game localization can no longer be an afterthought. Instead, it has to be an integral part of your game design, development and marketing strategy.

Make your gamers feel important by paying attention to every localization detail. Your goal shouldn’t just be about making awesome games, but to make it enjoyable for every player in the world!

Vinu Saseedaran Renish

Vinu Saseedaran Renish is a Technical Content Writer at Daytranslations. A Computer Science Engineer by qualification, her passion lies in writing. She began her Content Author career at Red Hat, drawn in by her love for technology and writing. Vinu is driven by her inclination to learn something new, to be a beginner, to gain new insights and to grow every day. You can connect with her on Twitter @VinuSRenish.

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