Video game localization can be expensive, especially if you are an indie development studio with a limited budget to juggle across your entire project. As a result, many newly-established studios often avoid localizing their game in languages other than English. While this helps save money, cutting costs by removing localization is detrimental to game sales since fewer people will be able to play your game.
So, how can you do localization on a budget and still maximize the quality? In this article, you will find several tips on saving money on your game localization.
Gamers from different parts of the globe have different tastes in terms of game genres and platforms of choice, which is why games widely popular in certain regions might be obscure in others.
For example, classic graphic adventures are still popular in Germany. Eastern Europe is a prevalent PC-gaming market, while Southern Europe is very console-oriented. Gacha games are prevalent in Asia but less so in the rest of the world; NFT-based games are more popular in Southeast Asia than in Western countries.
These are just some examples, and you should do some research on the most profitable markets for your game. From that perspective, we have a couple of articles you might find interesting if you are planning to release a PC game on Steam or if you are working on a blockchain-based gaming project.
Others may recommend starting the localization process of your game as early as possible to avoid gaps between finalizing the production and releasing the game. While that argument is valid, if you are an indie studio looking to save money, you shouldn’t rush sending unrefined texts to your localization provider: any correction will be charged for and ultimately add up to the total cost of your game localization.
Languages like Spanish, Portuguese, or Chinese are spoken in many different countries besides their native ones. However, each of these countries might have variants significantly different from the original.
If you cannot afford to localize in more than one variant, focus on the more popular one of a group. For example, Brazilian Portuguese is spoken by over 210 million people, against roughly 40 million speaking European Portuguese. We can draw a similar comparison for the Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese alphabets: the first is used mostly in the relatively small country of Taiwan, while the latter is popular across most of the massively populated mainland China.
If you wonder what’s better to choose between Latin American Spanish and Catalan Spanish, we have a whole article on the subject.
If your game already contains voice acting, you are probably aware of how complex it is to find actors that fit the tone of your game’s characters. So naturally, adding voice-acting in multiple languages escalates the challenge exponentially. If you can’t afford to hire actors for every language your game is localized in, consider limiting the localization to subtitles only. It’s a widely accepted practice, as large chunks of the global markets are used to consume entertainment content with localized subtitles while keeping the original audio source in English. However, be careful where you sell your game: countries like China, Japan, or Italy expect their game to be audio-acted in their local languages.
If your budget is extremely tight, but you are lucky enough to have a large international community supporting your game, you might consider crowdsourcing your localization to fan talent — that means delegating game translation to your community. However, this is truly a last resort approach for several reasons:
If you still decide to go this way, we strongly recommend you to at least spare some budget for a professional review of your localization – some companies, including GameScribes, can review and edit your crowdsourced localization.
While there are many ways to save money on localization, one thing you should never compromise on is quality. A poor localization might cost you more than not being localized at all. If you haven’t found a localization partner yet, GameScribes can help you with that, and we’d be happy to provide you with a free consultation to help you decide which target markets are more suitable for your game!
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