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Why You Need Translators, Transcribers and Subtitlers for Video Game Localization

The video game industry has grown significantly over the past ten years, with the global games market reaching over $US90 billion in 2020. As gaming becomes an increasingly popular form of entertainment, it is inevitable for developers to consider releasing their products in different languages and countries around the world.

This article reviews the pros and cons of dubbing and subtitles in video games by covering what they are, how they work, the benefits of each, and what makes them different from one another.

What is Video Game Localization?

Video game localization is the process of creating or translating content in a video game that caters to the audience of a particular region. This can be achieved by either using subtitles, dubbing, or having two sets of programming code for the game.

Games often require localization because they are produced in different parts of the world with varying conventions for language, meaning phrases and idioms may not translate well between regions.

How are Video Games Localized?

There are many different ways that video games can be localized into a new country or culture.

  • Translating the dialogue to a new language,

  • Providing subtitles that show the words being spoken

  • Dubbing the dialogue so that all of the characters have their own voice actors

What is Dubbing?

Dubbing is a form of translation where actors or voiceover artists speak words that have been translated from the original language to the target language.

In video games, dubbing is often used for playing a foreign language version of a localized game.

Advantages of Video Game Localization

Video game localization is the process of adapting a video game so that it can be understood in the language of the target market.

Video game localization has grown in importance over the past decades, as gamers from different countries and cultures have increased worldwide. The process of translating a video game from one language to another is complex and often costly, but it provides a number of advantages to the target audience that should not be overlooked.

1. Exposure to a Wider Audience from Bigger Video Game Markets

Japanese video game companies, for example, often localize their games into English because they want to sell games to American players. This expands the market reach as the American video game market is significantly bigger than the Japanese video game market.

2. Increased Video Game Sales

Entering a new and bigger market will likely increase sales, especially if the localization efforts include effective marketing campaigns that are tailored specifically for the target market.

3. Increased Number of Video game Downloads

With more gamers getting news of the localized version of the game, there’s increased interest in the game. Gamers who are familiar with the game are extremely curious about the new version of the game and want to find out if the game translates well to their local language.

All the excitement and the intrigue can lead to more downloads of the localized game. For mobile games, this means a higher ranking in the Apple App Store and/or Google Play Store. Whether free or paid mobile

4. Giving a Sense of Importance to a Gaming Community

When a popular game from a country gets a local version for another country, the gaming community in that country feel that they are being given importance and that their language, culture, and gaming nuances are being appreciated. This contributes to the success of the video game.

Disadvantages of Video Game Localization

1. Language barriers and cultural nuances are complex.

The localization process takes translated content from other language versions of games to preserve cultural nuances that are lost in translation. Language barriers are not the only factor affecting the internationalization process.

This process can be challenging due to cultural differences, games with heavy dialogue, and games that are based on national cultures.

Localization can become a difficult process for developers if they don't account for cultural nuances in their games.

2. The game can get lost in the translation.

Even though some developers think that all gamers are the same, the localization process tells us that they are not. Oftentimes, the games are tailored for gamers in Japan because games in Japan are marketed differently than in other countries.

This means that when you play a Japanese game, it is voiced in Japanese, has some cultural references meant only for Japan, and is even taught differently. Some words, phrases, and references may not have their equivalent in other languages. Things can get lost in translation or developers will have to make changes that could affect the original game’s theme or storyline.

3. Video game localization can get very expensive.

The translation of video games into other languages is an expensive process that requires a lot of work. Localization developers are responsible for translating the game’s content, dialogue, menus, and other textual elements into another language.

The translator’s job is to ensure that no details are lost in translation and that the meaning of everything remains intact. The development team will have to do research, hire great translators, and local developers that can help with the entire process.

Video game developers must hire good talent from the get-go because mistakes can be costly.

4. Video game localization can take years to complete.

The process of video game localization can take anywhere from several months to years depending on the size of the game. Aside from the translation, dubbing, subtitling, and other processes, video games thrive on an attractive graphic style and gameplay mechanics which can be difficult to replicate from one culture to another.

Umritun Can Help

If your game development team is on the lookout for seasoned translators, transcriptionists, and subtitlers, we have a team that can help you with your video game localization projects. Let’s have a chat.


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