Your Game Localization Process: From Source to Target
Welcome to the global gaming world, where nearly 3.24 billion passionate gamers eagerly play and anticipate thrilling releases.
Amidst this vast landscape, a golden opportunity awaits you to dominate the global gaming market by integrating a solid game localization strategy.
Chances are, you are already planning your game localization. But how does a game localization process work?
The game localization process goes beyond granting access to video games through translation. It’s a combination of language and region-specific adaptation to help players embark on an immersive experience in a seamless fusion of language and culture.
However, this requires careful planning in the early development stages and accurate execution by experts possessing the necessary linguistic and cultural knowledge.
Curious to see that in action? Get into the fascinating world of game localization and discover how an intricate game localization process can unlock the immense potential of your game in the global market.
Table of Contents
What Is Game Localization?
Gamers choose to play mainly to have a thrilling and enjoyable experience. However, to truly savor the delights of gaming, they must fully immerse themselves in the virtual world. And it won’t happen without a thorough understanding of the game’s mechanics, plot, and even humor.
This is where “game localization” comes into play.
Game localization refers to adapting a game to the linguistic, cultural, and regional norms of a particular market. This mainly includes:
- In-game Content (textual and audiovisual content)
- Game Packaging
- Marketing Materials
During the game localization process, a dedicated team of professionals, including translators, writers, editors, cultural advisors, localization experts, and QA testers, work together to deliver a localized game that resonates with your new players.
While they draw on their experience to recreate the cultural context of your game, that’s not their only mission. They also, essentially, work to preserve the essence of your original version of the game. And that sweet spot can be a challenge, and it may take some trial and error unless carried out by experts.
But before we go into the process of getting it done, here’s a reminder of why it matters.
3 Reasons Why Game Localization Matters
The gaming market has skyrocketed in recent years, becoming one of the world’s largest entertainment industries. By 2025, the gaming market is expected to grow from its current value of $197.11 billion to more than $268 billion.
Such ever-increasing demands fuel intense competition among game companies and studios who aspire to create engaging gameplay with stunning visuals and captivating storylines.
And one way to do that is by implementing an effective game localization strategy that delivers your game to players worldwide. Here are 3 primary reasons why game localization is so crucial.
1. Language Barriers and User Experience
Your Japanese-speaking game might be a hit, and while gamers in Europe are getting excited to experience it themselves, they simply won’t be able to. It’s because of the language and cultural barriers, which are a huge part of their gaming experience.
In that case, it’s not just a matter of not being able to fully experience the game. It’s the fact that gamers won’t even be able to understand the game’s objectives or instructions.
The essence of localization, on the other hand, is to improve the overall user experience by providing players with a seamless and immersive gameplay journey in their own language. It translates and adapts your game’s content so your gamers can fully understand and connect with the storyline and characters.
Thanks to localization, this elimination of language barriers enhances your gamers’ user experience and overall enjoyment.
2. Market Expansion
You probably developed your game with global growth in mind. But an effective game growth strategy isn’t worth much without game localization. Localization makes it possible to bring your game to new markets and expand its reach beyond its original local audience.
For years, big game companies and studios have been leveraging game localization to support user acquisition and increase game popularity.
So if you are looking to capitalize on the growing global gaming market and expand your potential player base, game localization is exactly what you are looking for, especially if your ultimate goal is to unlock new revenue streams.
If your game supports multiple languages, this would translate to more gamers, more downloads/purchases, and of course higher revenue.
3. Competitive Advantage
In the highly competitive gaming industry, game companies acknowledge the vast array of possibilities in front of gamers. And consequently, they strive to meet the diverse needs and preferences of players in different regions.
But that’s not the only side of the story.
Such competition burdens game developers and studios like you to position themselves as unique and make their games stand out. And it’s challenging if your game doesn’t offer more than any other game.
It’s why these companies invest in what could help them stay ahead of the competition. This can range from innovative storylines to leveraging new tech features… and localization.
With game localization, you can release your game in new languages and tap into growing markets that are untapped or missed by your competitors. It gives you the edge over other game companies to compete effectively in an oversaturated market.
Game Localization Process: 7 Steps To Follow
The decision to localize isn’t exactly easy, though. It’s multifaceted and takes into account multiple factors. However, understanding the intricate process of game localization can help put things into perspective and streamline your decision-making.
Here are the 7 key steps of the game localization process.
1. Pre-production Planning
In pre-production planning, game localization teams conduct comprehensive market research and a preliminary examination of source files.
Market Research helps the team understand the target market and gamers’ preferences. It involves analyzing trends, demographics, and the cultural and social nuances of the target region.
The Preliminary Examination of Source Files involves analyzing code, text, graphics, audio, and other game assets to determine the scale of the localization project.
Internationalization is the foundation of a successful game localization process.
It refers to the approach of making your game localization-ready from the outset, rather than as an afterthought. This way, it can be easily adapted to different languages and cultural contexts
Precisely, it involves preparing your game’s software to accept language and locale-specific customization. This makes it easier and less costly to localize your game, saving you the hassle of localization challenges that may arise if your game isn’t ready for localization.
Internationalization is probably one of the most crucial best practices for a smooth game localization process
3. Text Extraction and Preparation
The text extraction and preparation process involves organizing and formatting the game’s text for translation.
This includes tasks such as extracting in-game text and subtitles from the game itself. The localization team then takes these texts and prepares them in a manner that simplifies the translation and reintegration processes.
4. Translation: Text and Audiovisual Elements
Translation, transcreation, and localization are all related to the process of adapting your game for different languages or markets. However, it’s important to note that they each involve different levels of customization and adaptation.
During game localization, and depending on your game content, the three may be combined.
Translation involves converting text from one language to another while preserving the original meaning, style, and intent as accurately as possible. The goal of translation is to convey the original message faithfully in the target language.
- Game Instructions
- User Manuals
- Policy Statements
Transcreation, also known as creative translation or adaptation, goes beyond the literal translation of words.
It involves recreating the content’s message to resonate with the target audience while capturing the essence of the original content in a way that connects with the new audience.
- Characters’ Names
- Game’s Setting and Objects
Localization refers to the comprehensive adaptation of content to suit a specific locale or target market. It involves not only translating the text but also modifying various elements to align with local cultural, linguistic, and regional requirements.
- Game’s Plot and Dialogues
- Graphics, Symbols, and Colors
- Design and Layout
- Dates, Currencies, Units of Measurements
- Marketing Assets
5. User Interface and User Experience (UI/UX) Adaptation
UI/UX adaptation involves localizing the game’s user interface elements to provide an intuitive experience for players.
For example, for the game’s menus, buttons, icons, and navigation elements, the localization team resizes, repositions, and adjusts them to accommodate different text lengths and formatting conventions.
This ensures that players can navigate the game easily without any language barriers or confusion.
6. Quality Assurance and Testing
The goal of QA is to ensure that the localized game meets the same quality and functionality standards as the original version in the source language.
QA testers use various tools and technologies to check the linguistic, functional, and cultural elements of the game.
- Linguistic Testing involves checking for any translation errors or inconsistencies.
- Cultural Testing involves verifying that the localized content is culturally accurate and appropriate for the target market.
- Functional Testing ensures all game functions work appropriately and has no technical issues.
7. Post-Release Support and Updates:
Even after the game’s release, localization teams continue to provide support. They offer continuous translation for game updates and address any localization issues players may encounter and consider feedback for future improvements.
For instance, if players provide feedback on a mistranslation or cultural inaccuracy, the localization team swings into action and addresses it promptly through patches or updates.
This ongoing support ensures that the localized version of the game remains up-to-date and maintains its quality over time.
Prominent Markets in the Gaming Industry
You might be wondering where you should take your game!
Let’s take a quick tour around the world and explore some of the most prominent markets in the global gaming industry.
Asia reigns supreme in gaming, boasting an astonishing 1.48 billion gamers, more than double the player count of any other region. In fact, it surpasses the combined number of gamers in Europe, Latin America, and North America.
China has the largest gaming market globally; Japan and the UK have the joint-highest video game user penetration rate (58%), and Korea has a long history of esports and competitive gaming in the Country.
Germany is the world’s fifth-largest game market, in the world. And the Spanish-speaking market is one of the most prominent gaming markets, including Spain, Latin America, and a significant Spanish-speaking population in the United States.
Eventually, we can’t ignore the MENA region market, one of the fastest-growing regions in the gaming industry. The Arabic market, in particular, has played a significant role in the global success of several renowned games.
Interested? The next section is for you.
The Arabic Market Game Localization Hits
In 2026, the gaming revenue in MENA is expected to reach almost $2.8 billion up from about $1.8 billion in 2022.
Due to the expansion of the Arabic video game market, video game developers are capitalizing on this growth by providing Arabic localization for their video games.
Midway through the 1990s witnessed the first attempts to localize video games for Arab players.
An Arab fan, named Adnan, collaborated with Rinco (Ramar International), a Taiwanese distributor and developer of Nintendo games, on the translation of Captain Majed (1995), also known as Captain Tsubasa II (1990) on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).
Here are the most popular Arabic localized games:
Game 1: Assassin’s Creed
Ubisoft initially developed Assassin’s Creed in English and French for the Canadian market.
However, the company recognized the importance of the Arabic market, which spans over 20 countries. To ensure broader accessibility, Ubisoft used modern standard Arabic to overcome the barrage of almost 60 different Arabic dialects.
Game 2: FIFA
In 2018, the FIFA 18 Arab game localization featured the voice of Faris Awad, a well-known Emirati sports commentator.
This important collaboration contributed to a remarkable sales performance, with 10 million copies sold within the first eight weeks after release.
This achievement signifies a positive response from the Arabic-speaking player base, highlighting the effectiveness of Arabic localization in catering to their needs and preferences.
Because of their forward-thinking approach to localization, games in this series are held up as models for the industry.
With each successive release, their game localization has witnessed remarkable enhancements, gradually ironing out any minor translation discrepancies that may have existed.
Today, the translations and voiceovers have reached an exemplary level, widely acknowledged as top-tier renditions, thus elevating the gaming experience to a more genuine and immersive level.
Ratchet and Clank Series
Ratchet and Clank have garnered recognition as one of the most impeccably localized video games across multiple markets.
The exceptional translation quality allowed it to compete effectively and propelled it to become a beloved favorite worldwide.
Despite being created in California, the game’s enormous popularity led to its adaptation into a Japanese manga barely two years after its first release, further solidifying its appeal on a global scale.
Inadequate localization can disrupt the player’s connection with the game world, hindering their ability to fully understand the storyline, empathize with the characters, and appreciate the game’s artistic vision.
It might lead to a disjointed and disorienting experience where the dialogue feels stilted, jokes fall flat, and overall immersion is compromised.
These examples of subpar localization in well-known franchises serve as a reminder of the crucial role that accurate and culturally sensitive translations play.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Within the depths of this game’s missions, there existed one that held a level of controversy deemed unsuitable for the Russian version.
In one of the missions, a quote, “Remember, no Russian,” was intended to convey that the characters should refrain from speaking Russian during their operation. However, a huge translation error occurred in the Japanese version, resulting in the line being rendered as “Kill them. They’re Russian.”
This dramatic misinterpretation was considered a call for violence, understandably sparking dissatisfaction and anger among players and critics alike.
But that translation error was not the sole incident within the game. Gamers frequently sought assistance to understand cutscenes and missions due to the abundance of mistranslated dialogue and confusing text.
With each mistranslated line, frustration grew, and gamers increasingly called for the company to rectify these language localization shortcomings.
The developing company realized that a mere apology would not suffice; a comprehensive solution was needed to regain the trust of its player base.
Accordingly, it made the time-consuming, expensive commitment to release a remastered edition of the game specifically designed to rectify the translation errors.
Skyrim, an open-world RPG renowned for its immersive gameplay, has its fair share of language challenges.
For non-native English speakers, Skyrim presents a language barrier. The game’s extensive volume of text and its complexities make it challenging to fully understand the translated text.
Furthermore, the Japanese translation of Bard’s character songs in Skyrim has received significant criticism for its clumsy rendition. Referred to as “mangled” by many players, these translations fail to capture the poetic flow and charm of the original versions.
These incidents serve as real examples highlighting the importance of collaborating with a skilled localization partner. By doing so, you can avoid potential losses in terms of time and resources, establish a reputable presence in the international market, and most importantly, gain the trust of your target clients.
Game Localization Services : TransPalm's Unmatched Game Localization Services
Localization can be a complex process, but with TransPalm by your side, you'll navigate it seamlessly.
With our ISO-certified localization services available in over 120 languages, our team of professionals will ensure that your game resonates with players worldwide, immersing them in an unforgettable gaming experience.
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Don’t let language barriers limit your game’s success. Contact us and embark on a localization journey that will position your game as a standout in the global gaming industry.
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