Category: Chinese Gaming

Game localization on a tight budget – tips when choosing game translation languages

Congratulations – the Internet has opened up the global gaming market to you like no generation before! However, if you try to market to that entire audience at once, you will only hurt your game sales and business reputation. To go global, go local! This advice  goes double if you are on a tight budget.

Localizing your game means translating it into the mother tongue of the people you are targeting. If you’re going for Brazil, translating your game into Portuguese automatically increases downloads, reviews and app store rankings. Why? One word – immersion.

What is Immersion?

Immersion can be defined as many things, but as a game developer, connectivity is what you should be worried about. Does your game allow the player to get away from reality and dive into the world of the game? If a person hears the game in his local language, immersion becomes much easier. Subtitles are ok, but let’s face it – there is nothing like the local language.

If you want to target the total world population of 7 billion people, then you need 6,500 different translations. This is probably impossible for you, and that’s ok. 2,000 of these languages have 1,000 speakers (or less). If you are going for volume, then Mandarin Chinese is your best bet (there are more than 1.2 billion people who speak it).

However, you may be promoting a game that the Chinese government is averse to. They are notorious for banning games. If so, then your money is better spent translating into Spanish, Yoruba or one of the other major languages in the world. Let’s take a look at how you choose the language(s) that you localize to.

What is Your Chosen Platform?

The platform that is distributing your game will make a huge difference in the languages that you choose to localize in. It may be your primary driver, actually.

For instance, if you are planning to distribute on STEAM, Russian is the top language spoken. On iOS, Chinese and English are the top two languages. If you are going for downloads, then Chinese is the number one pick. If you are going for revenue, English is your language.

Google Play has a similar divide: If you want downloads, English should be your priority language. If you want revenue, Japanese is number one.

Learning the numbers on language can tell you a lot about the way that people across the world play games as well.

Immersion Across the World

Russian games are 18% of the downloads on the STEAM platform. The PC is still outpacing the console as a gaming platform in the expansive country, which explains the high number of downloads from Russia on STEAM. The gaming platform also affects the types of games that are played. Russians love MMORPGs and first person shooters, possibly because these games allow the rather isolated country an outlet to the rest of the world!

The total gaming market in Latin America is expected to grow to $2.7 billion with a CAPR of 8.4% in 2019. If you want to have an inroads to a huge market across the world, Spanish should be high on your list. However, you can drill down a bit more – Mexican Spanish and European Spanish are different enough from each other that they should be separated and targeted specifically in your localization budget. If you have to choose a location, choose Mexico. The country will be 33% of the total Latin American gaming market in 2019.

Portuguese is just as big as Mexican Spanish, however! The huge economic improvements across Brazil have given rise to a new gaming market – one of the fastest growing in the world. If you thought the Mexican 33% was impressive, get this: Brazil will hold 39% of Latin American gaming sales in 2019.

If your game is a simulator, then Germany is definitely a great market for your game. The country has the highest overall revenues for the gaming industry in all of Europe. Germany also loves PCs and has not caught onto the tablet trend just yet. 93% of German gamers are playing from a PC screen.


China is such a huge market that it deserves its own segment. China is also the most difficult market to penetrate. Not only do you have to impress gamers, but you also have to get past the censorship of the government. If your game is in any way detrimental to Chinese culture or military, forget it.

Your translation should be impeccable if you want to compete in the Chinese market. Their billions of consumers are already being served by a growing contingent of game producers with inside knowledge of the local customs.

Going into China means going into PCs as well. Like Germany and Russia, China has not quite taken to the mobile market. However, the rate of increase of players looking to PCs as a primary platform is slowing.

There is more opportunity than ever around the world as a game producer. The $25 billion market can be yours – but not the whole thing. Decide what part of the pie you want and focus on it with localization services that appeal to your targeted audiences. Your language selection is of primary importance. Study the culture of your targets and make sure that your investment is going to a market that loves what you are doing!

Challenges to entering the mobile gaming market abroad

Breaking into Asian mobile games markets is no cakewalk. While some games, like Clash of Clans, enjoy multi-year runs of wild popularity, they are the exception rather than the rule. Most mobile games release quickly, gain popularity fast, and fade away to make room for the next game just as quickly. Time is of the essence, but there’s good news: Since mobile games usually rely on action-oriented game play with simpler graphics, less text and character restrictions, and little or no voiceover work, they don’t take very long to localize!

That’s a good thing, because to stay on top of the market, you have to come in already localized with a system in place for simultaneous delivery (which a full-service localization company can facilitate). You’ll also need a local partner for distribution and/or monetization.

From there, you’ll need to master the finer points of what makes each country’s mobile players tick – or tap, as the case may be.

A few top-tips on what makes who tick (or tap) in Asia


Japanese players expect in-game social interaction, like combat between guilds.

South Korea

South Korean gamers have come to expect frequent game updates and special in-game events.


China has more than 15 app stores – which is a significant change from just dealing with two (Apple and Google’s) – as well as networks selling games, and middlemen at telecom companies and hardware manufacturers.

In general, Asian gamers are better conditioned for more complicated games than Western audiences – your game might be too simple for them. There’s a reason Angry Birds took off in the U.S. and not so much in Japan!

Find out more by downloading our eBook…

Mobile Gaming on the Move – Challenges of Casual Gaming Localization

China, Japan and South Korea comprise the world’s largest mobile gaming market with $12.2 billion in total revenue as of 2014.

If you’re counting, that’s 48 percent of the total global revenue for mobile games from just those three countries, and numbers of users are rising quickly.


Here are a few more vital statistics on the Asian mobile gaming front:

  • Android phones are far more popular than iPhones. In China, for instance, Android devices have a 64.2 percent market share, which is more than twice that of all iOS devices.


  • Thailand loves their Samsung and Apple phones nearly equally, with Nokia as a close third. However, inexpensive local brands are common too.


  • Indonesia, Cambodia, and Vietnam prefer Nokia, but Malaysia and the Philippines sit solidly on the Samsung fan wagon.


  • Japan’s market for both iPhone and Android games is the largest in the world, with a value 1.33 times the size of the U.S. market (as of October 2014)


Challenges of Mobile Gaming


Find out more by downloading our eBook on The Strategy Guide to Winning in Asia with Games Localization

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.


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.


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.


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.