As part of our ongoing Localization 101 series, we wanted to touch on the ever growing mobile market and how even basic localization is vital to increasing your fan base.
Mobile games raked in $34.8 billion globally in 2015— making up 85 percent of the total mobile app market. The mobile game market continues to grow across the spectrum, from game crazy Asia (it grew 19 percent in China alone) and emerging markets like Latin America, and is expected to overtake traditional gaming platforms PC and console within the next few years.
Which is why you should be taking advantage of the millions of gamers outside of the U.S. by localizing your mobile game. Unlike AAA console titles, you don’t even need to localize your entire game to see a significant increase in downloads. Strategically localizing your game could be the difference between breaking into a market and breaking open that market.
Start with metadata
You don’t need to localize every aspect of your game in order for it to be released, but there are a few things that need to be localized on day one — things that will also help get your game noticed. This includes the app store metadata, such as the game’s title, description, keywords, and screenshots, among other things.
So even if your in-game text isn’t localized yet, international players will still at least be able to find your game and understand what it’s about.
Let English dictate your other languages
English is the most popular second language in the world, so even if you don’t release localized versions of your mobile game on day one — millions of international players will still be able to play and understand it. Making your game available in English first (with localized meta data and app store descriptions) can actually help you determine where to take your fully localized versions.
If you start to notice your English version getting a lot of downloads in Turkey but barely a look in Germany, for example — your plan to localize to FIGS and be done with it might be a bad one. You should absolutely localize to the most popular languages, but make sure to recognize where your game is already doing well for additional languages.
Pay attention to cultural details
By cultural details, we mean both in and out of game. For instance, in the U.S., we write our dates MM/DD/YYYY, but in most other parts of the world, the date is written DD/MM/YYY. For in game details, be mindful of things like how it’s taboo to have people’s names in red in Korea or how 15 is the lucky number in most Spanish speaking countries and not 7. These little tweaks can help your game feel more authentic and enjoyable to foreign gamers.
Don’t forget marketing materials and other docs
Roll out full localization gradually
Once you’ve done all of the above and you’re ready to full localize your in-game text, take it one or two languages at a time. Even if you fully anticipate localizing for 32 languages, save yourself a headache and your team a lot of anguish by rolling out the language updates gradually. Adding localized text and functionality changes takes time on top of hours of testing. Trying to update for all languages at once can literally break your game — and you don’t want to do that!
Think you’re ready to localize your mobile game? Here are 6 questions to answer before talking to a localization vendor.