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!