Game Localization On A Tight Budget - Tips When Choosing Game Translation Languages

2019-08-13 | Carolina Silvandersson

Game Localization On A Tight Budget - Tips When Choosing Game Translation Languages

No, you’re not just developing a game - you also need to be the marketing manager, sales director and localization manager. You need a budget for your marketing plan, you need a social media plan, and you need some awesome game reviews.

If time and cashflow is a major factor for you, we suggest something with an undeniable impact on marketing, social media, reviews and downloads.

Localizing your game will increase your downloads and generate positive reviews from around the world; triggers that rank your game higher when potential clients are searching for a new awesome game to play, because when they find your game, they are more likely to download it - assuming the potential customer understands the content.

Now, the next step: Where to start? Which languages to choose? Here are a few tips.

Test your game for the global market: Translate your game description and receive instant feedback

Before conquering the world - Start with localizing your app description, metadata and keywords.Then, when the positive effect is demonstrated, you translate the entire game text.

If your budget is a tight one - which languages should you translate into? Well, it depends.

image alt text

Top 5 languages to translate your STEAM game into to increase downloads

Your hard work has finally paid off. You have been working day and night (most probably). In order to save money, you haven’t been eating anything but ramen noodles. Now, the alluring Steam green light is inviting you to come aboard and be a part of the Steam community.

In addition to English there are five top languages you should translate your Steam game into. Translate today and have a 6 language game on Steam within a few days.

image alt text

1. Russian

Russian is the third largest language on Steam. 12 % of all downloads on Steam are in Russian. PC games are more popular than console games in Russia.

According to Steamspy, 9 % of Steam games are in Russian. A Russian translation, and a pricing adjusted to the Russian market, is a rather safe investment.

Learn more about the Russian game market.

2. Spanish

Almost 4.5% of Steam Gamers use computers with Spanish installed.

Gaming revenue in Latin America was US$4.65 billion in 2018 what is already higher than predicted earlier US$3.3 billion in 2021.

Leading gaming markets in Latin America 2018, graph
Leading gaming markets in Latin America as of June 2018, by gaming revenue (in million U.S. dollars). Source: Statista.

Mexico accounts for 13 of the Latin American total game revenue 2019.

The Spanish language is spread throughout the globe, and a game translation into Spanish might even affect the US market.

A localization into Spanish should include at least two versions: European Spanish localization and LatAm Spanish localization.

3. Brazilian Portuguese

Brazil will account for another third of the total Latin American revenue 2019. Brazil and Mexico will together account for 67% of the total revenue in Latin America 2019.

Click HERE and learn more about the Brazilian Game Market.

4. German

Germany has the highest game revenues in Europe.

Is the word “simulator” included in the title? Then Germany is your game market.

There is a slow adoption to tablet gaming in Germany. Computer screens are most popular in Germany - over 52% of all gamers play on one.

image alt text

After English, Chinese, Russian and European Spanish, German is the 5th largest language on Steam.

5. Simplified Chinese

To make it in the Asian market, translation is key. Potential customers hesitate downloading when the game isn’t translated. The market is huge, the potential massive, and to get access, localization is the first step.

The Chinese PC market is still the largest segment when looking at revenues, but the rate of increase is slowing down.

Read more about the Chinese market. Click HERE.

image alt text

Mobile Games Market

Globally, the mobile games market accounts for $63.2B, almost 50% of the global games market. Asia-Pacific, with more than 1.5B mobile gamers, makes up almost half of global games market.

To get a piece of that market share, localization is key.

2018 Global Games Market Newzoo infographic
Image source

Top 3 languages to translate your iOS game into to increase downloads

1. Chinese

Q4 2014 was the first time the iPhones sold in the Chinese marketexceeded the American market. Now this change is shown in the iOS download statistics.

China is ranked number 1 in the iOS App Store listings, ahead of the US.

In general, Google Play has historically had more downloads than iOS; but iOS on the other hand, higher revenue. The growth of iOS in China has a large impact on the iOS app market in total.

China’s population in total is 4x the US, and the population with internet access in China is twice the number of the US. The potential in China is huge.

Read more about the Chinese game market.

image alt text

2. Japanese

The Japanese games market is massive: the gamer population is 67.6 million, and the revenue$19.2B

The Japanese mobile games market accounts for 6.2 B USD.

Japan ranks highly in both revenue and downloads in App Store.

image alt text

3. Russian

The PC Games market and Google Play Market are bigger than the iOS market in Russia; but as the Russian market is so big, Russia qualifies as the 5th largest country in the world by downloads.

Read more about the Russian games market by clicking HERE.

Top 4 languages to translate your Google Play game into to increase downloads

1.Brazilian Portuguese

Brazil has the second highest ranking in terms of revenue of the Latin American countries.

Brazil is, after the US, the second largest country when it comes to Google play downloads.

Read more about Brazil HERE.

2. Hindi

Hindi is the largest market in India. Other major languages in India are: Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Bengali, Punjabi, Oriya, and Assamese.

India is one of the fastest growing mobile markets in the world. There are 132 million mobile gamers and a strong mobile infrastructure.

Growing income, improved broadband, a growing game population, and larger variety of games to download, has resulted in a growth in the Indian mobile game market.

Game revenue in India is estimated to triple in the following years, to eventually hit 1.2 billion USD.

3. Russian

The Russian app market is driven by Google Play. iOS and Google Play together makes Russia the 5th largest country for downloads in the app market.

The Russian mobile game market is young. The smartphone penetration is around 55% and set to grow to over 70 % in the next few years.

Android has approximately 80% of the market.

image alt text

Read more about the Russian game market HERE.

4. Mexican Spanish

Growth in Google Play has been driven by explosive markets such as Mexico. The smartphone market has seen dramatic growth with 75% in 2013, and will continue to grow.

65 % of all smartphones are Android.

Top 4 languages to translate your Google Play game into to increase revenue

1. Japanese

Japanese consumers have a long history of buying mobile data. Google made a smart move introducing mobile content billing at the Japanese app market; something the Japanese mobile consumers were already used to.

Google Play has closed the gap with iOS in Japan.

image alt text

2. Korean

South Korea is the home of both Samsung and LG. Naturally Android dominates.

Korean gamers are high spenders; especially on in app-purchases.

image alt text

Geographically, South Korea is a small country, but revenues are impressive.

South Korea is ranked no 4 in the world - higher than traditionally large game countries such as Germany, UK and Australia.

Read more about the South Korean games market HERE.

3. German

Major European markets have iOS has the dominant player, but in Germany Google Play is the main player. The majority of all smartphones are Android.

Narrowing it down further, the annual spend per device is higher in App Store than Google Play, but as the number of Android devices is greater, Google Play revenue is higher.

image alt text

The carrier billing through Google Play, just like the one used in Japan, fits the German market perfectly. For cultural reasons, the system for credit cards isn’t fully developed in Germany, resulting in German consumers not using credit cards in the same way many other European markets do. The carrier billing system gives Google Play an extra edge with the mobile games market in Germany.

4. Traditional Chinese

The Taiwanese population is 24 million people - the online population is 20 million! 14.5 million are gamers.

6 million gamers spend money on games.

The Taiwanese games market in total has seen an increase of18 % since 2014.

For every iOS device there are 4 Android.

Role Playing games (21%) and Strategy games (18%) are top categories in Taiwan.

Tips! Keep an eye on South East Asia. Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia are climbing fast.

Reach a larger market

If you choose all languages mentioned above, then you will reach 942 million gamers, AND get a piece of the 72,103 million dollar revenue.

Try our interactive world map developed by LocalizeDirect, and see how many gamers your game reaches. Click the ORDER button in the top right corner, drop your file with strings, get the word count and feel free to play with the regions and languages. The tool is completely free. No worries about your data - we don’t store it until you decide to place an order.

P.S. Only use human professional game translators

Don’t use automatic machine translators or Google Translate. This will end up being:

  • More expensive
  • More time consuming

It may even hurt the loyal gamers’ feelings who will share their disappointment online (see how many people are talking about this Italian game localization:

We have received jobs from game developers that had previously been using machine translations. Read more HERE about funny translations.