Category: Mobile Gaming

Mobile games localization: 7 reasons why you should localize your mobile games

Localisation must become an essential component of your marketing strategy, especially in the world of mobile apps and games. The market is growing around the world, with much of the accelerated growth coming from the Asia Pacific region.

There will be 5.7 billion smart phone users around the world by 2020. These users will have more choice than ever, so translating games into the native language is not enough. Localisation is the key, and here are seven key reasons to invest in it for your next mobile app.

1. Loss of Immersion

Japanese people have thousands of Japanese games to choose from. Why would people who are looking for easy entertainment choose an English game and lose immersion because they have to look up a weird word every 30 seconds? The answer – they won’t.

2. Expanded Customer Base

This is a huge advantage for social games, such as those in the MMORPG genre. Mobile networks have expanded to the point that they can support huge games like this across continents, and social gaming will soon be connecting people of different languages and cultures through sophisticated localisation techniques. If you are not on this train, then you will be missing out on billions of users in Europe and Asia.

3. Accelerated Entry into Emerging Markets

If you are looking to expand into emerging markets, you must do so quickly. If the Philippines and India are any indication, the speed of mobile enablement is accelerating. Emerging markets will become mature markets in a faster timeline, and new dev companies will not waste time saturating those markets. Now is the time to get into smaller markets in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa and create a stronghold there through a proper localisation strategy.

4. Higher Immersion Means Lower Bounce Rates

Getting users to download your apps is one thing – it is quite another for them to hold onto your apps long enough to initiate microtransactions and other in game upsells. If you localise, you increase the odds of your content staying on the phones of your target audience for longer periods of time. The lower your bounce rate, the higher your upsell capabilities.

5. You Want to Go Viral, Don’t You?

If your app is localised in a particular market, it can be more easily shared by the people in that area. Going viral is the best marketing that you can receive, because it requires no scaling of expenses on your part. You want your users to become the primary drivers of growth for your app, and localisation is the investment that you need to make for this to happen.

6. Diversification

Diversification of a customer base is a characteristic of viral content of all kinds, including games and apps. When you have customers in different countries, your product naturally has more reach. However, customers across borders can create an entirely new level of interaction that a single market app cannot achieve.

7. App Stores Will Help You

There is very little chance that app stores in other countries will push an app that is not localised. Because that content is not as relevant as local content, app store search engines literally cannot give it a leg up. If you want to take advantage of the organic marketing that you can achieve through app store algorithms, then you owe it to your product to localise it to the target audience of that geographic area.

App stores have plenty of tools that will help you localise, so there is truly no excuse to skip this step. For instance, if you have translated title text, the screen on all major app stores will automatically adapt to the new language. Numbers and dates also get fully adapted to Google Play and Apple App Store users by their location, but your app needs to have the basic infrastructure to support the network.

The thoughts above are only a few of the reasons to localise your applications and games. If you want to be on the cutting edge of the gaming industry, with reach that expands beyond the borders of your primary market, localisation is the key!

How Mobile Game Localization Can Increase Your Global Market Share

The gaming industry is no longer limited by geography. Gamers are now easily connecting with peers and developers across the globe. What does this mean for the industry?

Opportunities are bigger, but competition is bigger, too.

The global audience also has much less patience for mistakes and imperfections. If your game is not immersive, then gamers will simply look to one of the other thousands of developers that they can easily access from a mobile phone.

Many countries, especially those in Southeast Asia, have recently experienced huge upticks in the number of people with Internet access. The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia are new markets that have plenty of room for new developers to bring their mobile games.

However, these new gamers are just as picky as any other market. You need to localize, transcreate and culturalize your games to these target audiences if you want to infiltrate!

Expanding into New Markets

Obviously, if you are sourcing a game in English, you will have trouble selling it in a place that does not speak English. This was the driving issue of gaming globalization fifteen years ago. Today, even games that have been translated cannot cross over into new markets. Why? There are more than language barriers getting in the way of acceptance across global borders.

Gamers in all locations have so much choice in games that they will not deal with games without a cultural bond to the local space. If a Western game goes to Tokyo looking like a Western game, it will not sell as well, if at all. If the game contains stereotypes or historical tidbits that could be considered racist or detrimental to the country, it may be completely banned from sale. This was the case for Bully in Brazil, Battlefield 4 in China, Reservoir Dogs in New Zealand, Homefront in North Korea and Medal of Honor: Warfighter in Pakistan.

The Look of Localization

Translated text is only the first step into the global gaming market. The second step is to get the images and icons transcreated into the culture of the target market.

For instance, Uber changed its seminal icon from a black car to a red car for China. The company also changed its slogan to imitate the official political title of the country, calling Uber “the people’s taxi.” Although Uber is not considered a game persay, it was one of the most successful app rollouts in history. Why? Red is an important color in Chinese culture, representative of good luck, fortune and joy. The country also stands firm in its marketing of “the people’s” resources, so Uber likely won major kudos from the government with that move.

Uber actually served as a leading indicator for consumer readiness in the gaming market around the globe. Lists of early adopters for the app coincide closely with upticks of mobile game downloads in an area. Simple visual cues that Uber used also work for many games, including resizing fonts to fit the differences in language and tweaking icons to correspond to common symbolisms in the culture.

Emerging and Mature Markets

Total downloads for mobile apps will be flatlining in mature markets. This does not mean that downloads will become a trivial pursuit in these markets – they will just be a smaller percentage of downloads in the global marketplace.

If you are looking to increase revenues in the Apple app store, China is the easiest place to do it. 75% of Chinese iOS downloads come from games. However, your games should be sophisticated enough to include in-appc subscriptions and social networking aspects. Coupons and mini games are great ways to market to this audience.

In South Korea, mobile games have increased while online gaming has actually decreased. This country also leads the world in digital adoption, so social games will perform very well here. It can be a challenge to localize a game that will be played between Asia and Europe, but it has been done with top MMORPGs like Tibia Micro Edition, Alchemia Story and AdventureQuest3D.

In emerging markets such as India, mobile localization requires slightly different tactics. The so called “Zombie Effect” in the country means that mobile games that require a lot of resources will not do well here – the digital infrastructure is weighed down from installations on cheap mobile phones. Smaller, simpler, one player games perform much better here because most people are looking for resource-light entertainment.

However, localization in India works in much the same way. Any game that is looking for success here should consider the native language and culture of the country (Hindi and Buddhism). Taking the time to do this will get you access to a $4.1 billion market in Latin America, $23.5 billion in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and $46.6 billion in the Asian Pacific region.

Expansion into the global marketplace is an important aspect of growth for any game producer or gaming studio. The world will only become more connected in the future, and producers who get out ahead of the curve will become the huge studios of the future. Learn the culture of the target countries and how to localize to them. This creates the immersive experience that gamers around the world search for. The political and technological backdrop of each target country will be very important for you to consider as well.

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