Category: News

EQHO and Bug-Tracker Sign Strategic Partnership for Expansion of Southeast Asian and Canadian Games Markets

Game developers benefit from single-sourced suite of Asian game localization and testing services

Montreal 24 November 2016: Montreal-based Bug-Tracker Laboratories, dedicated to quality assurance and localization testing in the video gaming industry, announced today the signing of a strategic partnership with Singapore-based EQHO Globalization, a specialists in Asian game localization.

Both companies count major gaming brands such as Bandai, Blizzard and EA as clients, so the partnership will accelerate the Asian language localization-to-testing process by providing game developers with a suite of integrated games localization, multilingual voice production, testing and QA services. Bug-Tracker had a presence in China for six years so will leverage this experience for a strategic re-entry into the lucrative Southeast Asian markets, which is poised to grow to $2.2 billion by 2017. Bug-Tracker will establish secure testing facilities within EQHO’s Bangkok production center, whilst EQHO will benefit by establishing a physical presence in the $3 billion Canadian games market.

“We’re excited about the growth opportunities brought about by this mutually beneficial partnership”, stated Antoine Carre, President of Bug-Tracker Laboratories. “Our services complement each other, resulting in the further development of activity in the emerging Southeast Asian market, ultimately promoting and contributing to its growth. A joint venture with EQHO is our ultimate goal.”

Commenting on the recently penned agreement, Phanitanan Sanitprachakorn, EQHO’s Group CEO, said, “Bug-Tracker broadens and deepens our game testing services so we can better serve our clients with a more integrated service portfolio. We are looking forward to making the partnership work, take advantage of the respective geographical expansion we are providing each, whilst leveraging EQHO’s 20 years of Asian game localization expertise along the way”.

The Asian games market has grown 10.7% year-on-year compared to an industry average of 8.5% and, according to Newzoo, Asia represents 58% of the growth of the global games market. As games developers look East to drive more revenues, EQHO is rolling out consulting services to provide market entry strategies, partner identification and distribution channels, especially in ‘Big 6’ markets, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, for global games developers.

 

About EQHO

Headquartered in Raffles Place, Singapore, and with end-to-end production centers in Thailand and Laos, EQHO Globalization Pte. Ltd. delivers complex, multi-discipline translation and multilingual voice services to global brand leaders, including 23 of the Forbes Top 30 companies. In 2015, EQHO’s team of 3,500 linguists translated 80 million words into 60 languages and delivered 51,666 minutes of multilingual audio. EQHO is ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 17100:2015 certified by Intertek, and is recognized by the Common Sense Advisory as one of Asia’s fastest growing language service providers.

About Bug-Tracker Labs

The many services offered at Bug-Tracker Laboratories include functionality, localization and certification testing in a wide range of mobile applications, PC, console and virtual reality games. Through their 18 years of experience in the gaming industry, Bug-Tracker has developed the most efficient processes and methodologies to accompany you to success through the last steps before the launch of your titles. For more information, visit www.bug-tracker.com.

 

An interview with Nutchayun AKA ‘GAME’ – EQHO Games Account Manager

Game – do you find Games Testing fun?

YES! The best part is being involved in the creative process. Whether it be interpreting something for a new culture, or making improvements that include actual gamers, it’s incredibly rewarding. When you can see your hard work in action on the final release of the game, it makes it all worthwhile.

What are the key components or methodologies of Games Testing?

There are 4 types of tests. First, there’s the Build Verification Test. The build verification test, or subsequent smoke testing, share the similar objective of eliminating potential bugs before localization testing starts. Typical build criteria include, is the build installable? Does it run? Is it free of major flaws? Can it be tested further?

The second is the Smoke Test. The typical sequence of steps in this brief and inexpensive test includes installing the application, starting it, creating a file using the application, saving and closing the file, and then restarting the application again. Next, open the file just created, make a few changes to it, save it and close again.

The third type of test is Graphical User Interface (GUI) Testing, which is performed once a build is accepted. The usual types of defects found include text expansion, resulting in truncated strings; GUI alterations, resulting in overlaps of GUI elements and controls or misalignment of their automatic hotkeys, resulting in duplicated hotkeys; hard-coded strings, resulting in untranslated strings; and missing or extra controls, resulting in missing or broken functionality.

And the fourth is Linguistic Testing, conducted by language-aware or native language testers on the actual localized product, running exactly as it would be used by local users in their own languages. Such testing is required, since much of localization takes place out of context, and much of the software testing is conducted by test engineers rather than language specialists.

There are different methods as well. Standard linguistic testing can be performed with language resources located onsite or in-house, in dedicated test centers or via local in-country staff.

Linguistic testing using screenshots of the localized product is another method, which can be conducted onsite or offsite. In this model, the language aspects of linguistic testing are separated from the engineering aspects. Non-linguistic test engineers prepare screenshots of all the requisite parts of the localized GUI and provide them to the language specialists, and remote access to a centralized test environment provided to linguistic testers.

What are the challenges you typically face in Games Testing?

One of the first challenges is the mythology the game is based upon, and the creative development required to adapt it to a foreign culture. For example, many ideas, characters, and lore that may exist in one culture do not exist in others – in fact, they may well be completely unknown! A game developed in one culture or country may even contain elements that another culture has never imagined.
The next biggest challenge is the fonts. Many games use typical Roman fonts, but when localized into other character sets, you have text expansion, contraction, tone marks, and many other additions that developers may have never considered when originally coding the game.

Are there any particular languages that are more troublesome than others?

Any language outside of Roman characters provides many challenges. Of course, Hebrew and Arabic present their own unique challenges, but generally, if you are outside the Roman language set, you’re going to run into issues that many developers never even considered when the game was first designed.

Is there any standard on how Bugs are defined and resolved?

Yes, we have a severity level as well as certain types. The type will always depend on the game. It is also important to prioritize the bugs and their severity.

Severity expresses the impact of a bug on the end user, usually scaled from 1-4.

1) Crash or hang bugs refer to loss of functionality, copyright issues, offensive text, etc.

2) Major bugs mainly impact functionality (or critical text is not visible).

3) Minor bugs are mainly cosmetic errors, and

4) Trivial bugs, which are the very small bugs like missing punctuation, for example.

After logging all bugs into the appropriate bug database, any outstanding issues or questions should be logged in the Master Question and Answer document. This document should be provided to the client each time updated source files or bug reports are sent.

The types of bugs that are typically found are hard coded strings in the code (that are not translated), concatenated strings in the code (that cause the ordering of a translated string to not make sense), key mnemonics mapped to native characters on the keyboard that don’t work (both accelerator keys and shortcut keys), GUI layout (often changes due to resizing of labels for text), some apps might need specific drivers for your target market (locale), if you have help files, they will need to be tested, and if you have web links, make sure they also point to the appropriate location (especially if those pages are localized)

What are the Top 3 Tips that will save money and time for a Games Localization project?

The #1 tip is to start early! The earlier you start to look at your code and prepare it for some of the bugs listed above, the more time and money you’ll save. Tip #2, start small. If you’re not completely comfortable going into multiple languages at once, start with one, learn the ropes, find mistakes, make a corrections plan, and build on it for future languages. Tip #3, invest in tools. At the end of the day, a human touch will always be required, but the technology available will make everything way more streamlined as well as consistent.

What will the lifting of China’s games console ban mean for localization?

After enacting temporary changes at the beginning of 2014, China has at last reversed its ban on the import and sale of foreign videogame consoles. Originally enacted in 2000, the ban prevented the Chinese populace from playing console games despite the fact that many of them were manufactured in the country.

playing-sony-console-controller

Now, all consoles created in the Shanghai Free-Trade Zone will be able to be sold throughout China. While some Chinese people have been able to use these consoles thanks to a black market that has developed over the last 15 years, for many this will be their first ever taste of console gaming.

However, this presents a new challenge for the industry as a whole. Previously, the Chinese market only needed to be considered when producing PC games, but now all games manufacturers will need to prepare their products for this nation. With an estimated value of over $20 billion in 2015, it would be foolish to ignore the Chinese gaming sector.

This means console game manufacturers will need to adapt their localization strategies. As much as China is an exciting new market with a lot of potential, it also comes with a lot of restriction and some significant challenges. Here are a few of the ways localization will change following the lifting of the console ban:

New platforms

While China’s growing middle class is enthusiastic about gaming, it is worth remembering that for many Chinese people a console simply costs too much. Even if they can afford the original console, the high price of games might put them off even more. As a result, there has been a race to create a new, budget console for this market.

For example, China’s version of Kickstarter, currently employs a console called OUYE. Its design has received a lot of negative attention from critics, as its body is extremely similar to Playstation 4’s and its controller looks identical to XBox One’s. However, it may succeed simply because the console with one controller around $70.

These new budget consoles could prove problematic if they grow in popularity. Games manufacturers may have to adapt their products in order to have them work properly on these new systems, which could add a new wrinkle to their localization strategies. However, only time will tell.

Censorship

The second – and perhaps the largest – problem that games designers face when localising in China is that of government censorship. China is well-known for harshly restricting its arts in order to convey – or ban – certain messages, and the games industry is no different in this regard.

According to the terms of the new regulations governing foreign games, certain content is prohibited from being presented. This includes, among others, anything that promotes “obscenity, gambling, violence and drug-related criminal activities, or abetting a crime”. However, China’s government is also prepared to ban games that it considers to undermine national sentiment or unity, or violate public morality or cultural traditions.

The game ‘Battlefield 4’ is a high-profile example of one that was banned in China, as it was viewed by some as being a threat to the nation’s security. As such, game manufacturers will have to be careful regarding the content of their games, and may have to cut certain sections in order to sell them in China.

Geography

Another concern to bear in mind is geography. If a game contains a map, it stands a good chance of being banned in China if said map shows Tibet, Hong Kong or Taiwan to be a separate nation, even if it would be historically accurate to depict them in this way.

This has already happened to Hearts of Iron II, a strategy game set in World War II, and Football Manager 2005. The former was due to its map depicting the above countries as separate entities, while the latter was because these nations had their own football teams. In the opinion of the government, this detracts from the national unity of China.

Cultural changes

Finally, there are several cultural changes that must be taken into account in order to implement a successful localization policy. These are not 100 per cent necessary, however they will make a game more appealing to Chinese audiences and will prevent cultural misunderstandings.

One example is colors. In China, white is associated with death and mourning, as it is the color worn at funerals. Red, on the other hand, is not associated with anger and violence as it is in other cultures. Instead, it represents good luck and happiness. These are important things to bear in mind when marketing games, in order to evoke the right emotions.

There is also the matter of getting a good translator for any dialogue in a game. The differences between Mandarin and Cantonese must be remembered, as well as period-specific dialects if the game is set in the past. Remembering these cultural differences is key to making sure a product is well-received in China.

 

Why Southeast Asia?

We’re starting in Southeast Asia precisely because so few people do. You know you want into the South Korean and Japanese markets. And China? That country is the largest gaming nation in the world.

But the six countries that make up Southeast Asia are vital, active, game-hungry markets too.

Meet the Big Six
Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Newzoo estimates that revenues in the Southeast Asian games market will double to $2.2 billion by 2017.

These regions are young – as in the majority of their populations are in the target age ranges for game playing – between 15 to 54 years old.[i] Newzoo also estimates that these countries hold a total of 126.2 million gamers, 59.7 million of whom pay for the privilege.

Find out more…

When Games Went Bad

Welcome gamer!

In 2004, Paradox Interactive had a booming hit on their hands with Hearts of Iron, an alternate history strategy game that let each player control a nation at the dawn of World War II. But, in the largest gaming market in the world, comprising more than 173 million people, 65 percent of whom are paying, playing gamers, Hearts of Iron was banned.

The Chinese market is powerful, but even more powerful is China’s Ministry of Culture which has strict gaming and internet service regulations. Paradox Interactive’s crime wasn’t violence or sex – it was the “alternate history” depicted, in which Manchuria, West Xinjiang and Tibet were shown as independent sovereign countries, and the Taiwan province as a Japanese territory. This was enough to “damage China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” according to the Ministry of Culture. For Paradox Interactive, that spelled “Goodbye” to 112,450,000 gamers.

What does this have to do with translation?

Not a lot. But it does have everything to do with successful game localization within Asian markets.

Localizing games is clearly about so much more than translating words. Words require context, and context is often where localization efforts falter. History, religion, culture, and geopolitical perspective are all hurdles game companies must leap over in order to reach target markets abroad. Just as important are the technical considerations and practicalities of delivering the same quality gaming experience halfway around the world.

Don’t let your game get banned.

Leap over the traps, fight the dragons, beat the monsters, and save the princess – or, at the very least, introduce your game to millions of people who will love it.