Top Languages For Game Localization 2021 And The Effect Of Pandemics - New Report By LocalizeDirect

2021-07-07 | Slava Zaiets

Top Languages For Game Localization 2021 And The Effect Of Pandemics - New Report By LocalizeDirect

Key takeaways:

  • FIGS leading position in the top of the game localization languages rank is subverted by Brazilian Portuguese and Russian.
  • Simplified Chinese climbed one percentage point compared with the previous year. However, delays in foreign game approvals from China’s regulators still negatively affect the demand.
  • The demand for South-East Asian languages steadily grows, as a result of the economic developments in the region.
  • FIGS are some of the most demanded languages for LQA as most developers translate their game into this language group. Asian languages are also highly requested due to the significant differences in the characters, numeric formats, and cultural references.

LocalizeDirect localization data revealed the most popular languages in game localization. Most frequently, game developers translated games into German, European French, European Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Italian, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Polish.

These 10 languages accounted for over 80% of the overall word count, from a pool of 45 languages.


Pie chart - most popular languages in game localization 2021

EU Spanish reunites with German and French in top 3

Traditionally, many game developers considered FIGS (French, Italian, German, and Spanish) as the primary choice for localization. In 2020, the FIGS share accounted for around 39% of the total word count, which is pretty close to 2019 data. 

German and French grew by one percentage point compared to the 2019 stat. Altogether, these two languages took over one-fifth of the translation pool.

However, FIGS' leading position is still subverted by Brazilian Portuguese and Russian that ranked #4 and #5 respectively.

Demand for Simplified Chinese is still influenced by the license ban

Simplified Chinese, widely spoken in mainland China, climbed one percentage point in the overall word count distribution, to 7%, however, it’s still lower compared to its 9% in 2018. For foreign publishers, distribution of their games into China remains a challenging task because of the approval process by the PRC’s General Administration of Press and Publication and the need for the ISBN licenses.

In 2020, only 97 imported games received approval although the situation may slightly improve this year: as of June 2021, 76 foreign games were approved for publishing in China.

Bar chart - foreign games published to China 2016-2021


The prospects of East Asian languages

Nevertheless, game developers still see Asia as a promising region due to its large population. Vietnamese, Thai, and Malaysian became the fastest growing game localization languages in the past five years, followed by Hindi, Tagalog, and Arabic.

In 2020, altogether, these six languages accounted for over 5% of the total word count pool, compared with 1.4% in 2016.

The most frequently ordered LQA languages

German, French, Italian, Russian, European Spanish, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese (Taiwan), and Korean were the most frequently ordered languages for LQA in 2020.

Bar chart - most frequently ordered LQA languages

Naturalness (the choice of words and terms appropriate for the game genre and target audience) is the most common issue for localizations into Simplified Chinese, Italian, Polish, Korean, Japanese. Visual bugs are frequently found in German, Brazilian Portuguese, French, Spanish, and Russian.

Find more about trends in game translation, localization QA, best game localization practices in LocalizeDirect’s 2021 report. To access the FULL version of the report, please fill in the form below.

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