As we approach the end of 2023, the year’s best-selling video game is Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. This action fantasy transports gamers to a fully formed world, engages them in a rich narrative, and challenges them to use their creative skills to solve complex problems. Game localization professionals face similar challenges in recreating the magic of a favorite game. Gamers in Tokyo, Toulouse, or Toronto all want an immersive sensory experience. High-quality game localization will deliver that, translating content from developers’ native languages to satisfy any target market, and memoQ’s expertise puts us at the heart of client game localization strategies.
Asia – Japan and the Art of Transmedia Storytelling
Asia is a video game industry hotbed, both for players – almost 1.5 billion gamers and counting – and for developers. Without gaming translation services, though, the scope would be far more limited. Quality-driven game localization has made Japanese-designed games a global success, and these games are making an impact in additional media. The first Super Mario Brothers video game was released by Nintendo in 1985 and over 400 million copies of its many versions have been sold since. In April 2023 the franchise became a big-screen hit. The Super Mario Brothers Movie has generated over $1.36 billion in global ticket sales and is the only movie to gross over $100 million or over 15 billion yen in Japan this year. Popular games can make the leap to becoming transmedia products, sometimes as cinema releases and sometimes as TV shows. With the rewards for success so great, game publishers have more reasons than ever to ensure that effective game localization makes their titles accessible and enjoyable in multiple languages. Localizing video games has never opened so many doors.
Asia – South Korea and the Power of Esports
Young people seeking a career as professional athletes are taught the value of professionalism and practice. In Korea’s thriving gaming industry, similar advice is now given to players of Esports. Players compete in leagues, with coaches for each team. The Korean Esports Association (KeSpa) was created in 2000, marking the dawn of a new century and a new approach to gaming. KeSpa is part of the country’s Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism and it oversees 25 of Korea’s leading Esports games. Franchises such as Starcraft, DOTA, and League of Legends create sporting heroes who are just as popular as footballer Son Heung-min or golfer Inbee Park. Esports events are broadcast on TV and via live streams and are played in packed stadiums.
What attracts huge numbers of gamers to play and watch for hour after hour? The game must have strong appeal, of course. It must be technically polished and quality-driven, and it must have an active and loyal community. Accurate game translation can extend this loyalty across borders.
The ten most watched eSports on Twitch are all localized products. Games that have found an audience in one language can find audiences in many more when gaming localization is treated with the same dedication as gaming itself. For their skill in translating content, preserving the nuance of cultural references, and working tirelessly to enhance the user experience, the video game translator deserves as much acclaim as the league-leading gamer.
Africa – Partnership for Profit
The potential for gaming growth in Africa is spectacular. While global gaming industry revenue declined 4.3% year on year in 2022 as the world emerged from lockdown, games sold in Sub-Saharan Africa generated 8.7% more revenue than the year before. Accurately localizing video games is introducing the planet’s youngest and fastest-growing population to the pleasure of gaming en masse. Rapidly increasing internet penetration and mobile device adoption make the continent a gold mine, as lucrative as anything Lara Croft or Princess Zelda has ever hunted for.
Carry1st, Africa’s leading mobile games publisher and digital commerce platform, is well-placed to take advantage of this growth. When the company began trading in 2018, it focused purely on developing and publishing mobile games. Now it also licenses games from international partners, helping gaming industry leaders maximize opportunities in multiple languages in the African market. The acclaimed Call of Duty: Mobile was successfully launched in South Africa through a partnership project between Carry1st and Activision, with Carry1st using local expertise to help the gaming giant find a target audience.
Africa – Turning on the Tap with Gaming Localization
Saudi Arabia has become a major global player in football gold in the 2020s and through the government-funded Savvy Gaming Group, this influence is extending into the gaming industry. Savvy has injected almost $38 billion into gaming companies and if the Saudi government follows a similar pattern to other sports, the money will keep pouring in.
In addition to the riches of the MENA region, mobile industry body GSMA predicts that by the end of this decade, 87% of people in Sub-Saharan Africa will own a smartphone. Game publishers such as Kucheza, Kagiso Interactive, Nyamakop, Celestial Games, and Kuluya are already ramping up target market penetration and profitability. What might they accomplish when this massive increase in smartphone adoption takes effect? Will the combination of advanced communications technology and advanced language technology unlock African revenue? The continent is home to over 3,000 languages, and in cases where video game translation resources are scarce, translation management systems and MT solutions can aid the video game translator in building a bridge. Africa has long been regarded as a continent with untapped potential for the gaming industry. Thanks to innovative approaches to localizing video games, the tap is being turned on.
Europe – Building a Social Network
Europe is home to an estimated 715 million active gamers, and European gaming companies are committed to bringing these players together, delivering immersive social experiences through large-scale multiplayer games. Innovators are building communities from bases across the continent. In Helsinki, game development studio Dazzle Rocks empowers players to build communities through its Social Sandbox. They can build their own homes in idyllic neighborhoods, living side by side with fellow gamers from all over the world. And, when they have built their homes, they can also create entertainment for their neighbors, delivering vibrant multiplayer experiences. The capacity to translate game features in ways that preserve important cultural references makes all the difference to the user experience. Video game translation is the key to bringing this new world to the widest possible target audience.
Europe – Friendshipping the World
Meanwhile, in Copenhagen, BetaDwarf Entertainment is on a mission to help gamers create lifelong worldwide friendships. BetaDwarf’s focus is on social interaction and cooperative gameplay. Minion Masters, its flagship title was first published in 2019. In August and September 2023, players came together for a five-week Minion Masters battle tournament, open to all-comers, with gamers invited to choose their own dates and times for each contest. Minion Masters supports nine languages, with different levels of support in the in-game interface for each language. BetaDwarf’s ambition of “friendshipping the world with co-op games” will be boosted by high-quality game translation, including audio localization and subtitling localization. The company’s focus on inclusiveness is admirable, offering positive leadership for the video game industry, and it echoes memoQ’s approach to cross-border communication.
Latin America – Rise of the Influencers
The Latin American gaming market, including South America, Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean, is worth $2.7 billion and is home to over 300 million gamers. The influencer-led culture has brought fame and fortune to figures such as Nobru – full name Bruno Goes dos Santos – a professional gamer and a rising entrepreneur in Brazil. Nobru turned professional as a Free Fire player in 2019 and now has over 14 million Instagram followers and over 14 million YouTube subscribers. Brazil is the leading target market in Latin America, one of the fastest-growing gaming markets in the world, with one of the most widely spoken native languages. It has also produced gaming companies with ambitions that reach far beyond its own borders. Wildlife Studios, the country’s leading developer, reached a valuation of $3 billion in 2020 and has delivered notable marketing success stories. In 2021 Wildlife launched an influencer marketing campaign in partnership with Facebook to boost global sales of its game “Zooba: Battle Royale”. Working with carefully chosen influencers and carefully prepared content, Wildlife was able to gain a valuable foothold in the challenging Thai market, proving a point that we at memoQ understand very well; good partners and suitable content can take you a long way.
Latin America - Game, Set and Match
Over the past two years, Wildfire has nurtured another lucrative partnership. Working with both the women’s and men’s global tennis associations, the WTA, and the ATP, Wildfire has added a new dimension to the tennis Grand Slam scene. At the 2022 US Open, Wildfire kept fans entertained in between matches with daily gaming tournaments. By visiting the American Express center at the tournament venue, fans could scan a QR code and receive in-game rewards. In two weeks, the US Open hosted 4 million gaming contests. Not surprisingly, the WTA and ATP happily signed up for more of the same in 2023. Wildfire is proving that tennis fans enjoy participating in their own tournaments just as much as they enjoy watching Novak Djokovic and Coco Gauff win theirs.
North America – Into the Metaverse
The metaverse, a 3D world that promises to give us a virtual reality experience more immersive than anything we’ve previously experienced, has been a hot topic for game developers in recent years. Facebook’s rebrand as “Meta” in October 2021 and its announcement that it would invest a minimum of $10 billion in the concept started a trend of corporate investment that Microsoft, Google, and Nvidia, among others, have followed. A fully formed metaverse could enable the development of virtual products that combine the most engaging elements of social media, virtual reality platforms, and gaming user experience. Gaming translation services can be the final piece in this jigsaw, seamlessly translating content to ensure that language and culture are preserved not only between target markets but between worlds.
Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard has made the link between gaming and the metaverse even clearer. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella celebrated the purchase by announcing that he sees the new 3D world as a natural extension of the world of the online gamer.
“Metaverse is essentially about creating games…it is about being able to put people, places, things in a physics engine and then having all the people, places, things in the physics engine relate to each other… The place where we have been doing that forever is gaming.”
Activision Blizzard’s network includes hub offices in Barcelona, Bavaria, and Shanghai, ensuring that a game whether it be in Spanish, German, or Chinese will remain authentic and engaging. We’re excited to see how authenticity and engagement will transfer to the gaming metaverse. In a recent survey, 97% of gaming executives stated that they see the gaming industry as the center of the metaverse, and industry pioneers such as Roblox are already staking their claim as metaverse leaders. The California-based company offers users a combination of virtual worlds, casual gaming experiences, and player-constructed content. During COVID-enforced lockdowns, Roblox became an increasingly popular medium for children to communicate with each other, and the platform became a popular venue for online birthday parties. Now it is embracing the metaverse. Where it previously engaged users in annual Easter Egg Hunts, it now hosts Metaverse Champions, an interactive VR game that enables players to unlock a series of treasure chests.
Localization – The Key in the Lock
How can gaming companies keep connecting with gamers and their evolving needs, territory by territory? High-quality video game translation enables communication in language and imagery that they will understand and warmly embrace. Success in game development is built on the same principles that make memoQ a game localization market leader;
Personalization - Know your audience. Gaming translation companies are constantly seeking new ways to help you tailor your offer to them. An immersive user experience calls for localized versions of games that will appeal to gamers in multiple languages.
Flexibility - Keep adapting, enabling creativity and continuous improvement. It’s never been enough simply to translate text. Game localization requires agile content translation across multiple media.
Automation - Smart automation saves time, reduces costs, and preserves language and culture. It’s the partner in localization gaming translation companies need, delivering a winning strategy for localizing video games.
2023 has been an exciting year for the gaming industry. What will 2024 bring? Get ready. It’s game on!
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