The value of the video gaming market is enormous. It’s in billions. Interestingly, more than 50% of the entire industry revenue comes from the international markets.

Despite the fact that the majority of video games are created in English and Japanese, it’s high time that video game developers must translate their video games into other languages as well. 

But in order to deliver a truly multilingual experience to worldwide game players, you must first understand the common obstacles in video game translation. Only then will you be able to deal with them effectively and create a global playing experience.

Meeting the whims and fancies of gamers

This is one of, if not the biggest, obstacle game developers often face. If you have to connect with gamers around the world and keep them engaged, you must meet their demands and expectations.

Today, gamers also have access to video games from other international markets. So, they have become very demanding in terms of translation. This has made it necessary for game developers and publishers to hire professional translation services. In fact, it’s until recently that game developers have started to recognize this need. And they are fighting hard to deliver a multilingual experience. One that satisfies the whims and fancies of players. Otherwise, they might be quick to express their anger online.

Deciding which languages to support

Deciding which languages to support is going to be your practical first step toward creating a truly global experience. There are various factors that will help you make the right choice. For instance, you will have to consider the market coverage and potential revenue of different languages. Similarly, each language will come with its own set of challenges, such as translation difficulty and complex grammar structures.

If you’re oriented around market size, then the United States, China, and Japan are no doubt the biggest gaming markets. You would definitely want to tap into these markets if you simply look at the revenue opportunities they have to offer. By supporting all these 3 languages, you’re about to begin a huge translation project. So, always make sure to have a partner on your side who can help you pull this off by leveraging their years of expertise in video game translation services.

As an alternative, you can determine that focusing on all English-, Spanish- and French-speaking markets offers the best combination of revenue potential and manageability for the translation effort.

Working with non-translatable texts

In almost all translation projects, there inevitably appear some concepts, phrases, and words that are objectively untranslatable into other target languages. This mostly happens in content materials that are more creative in nature. 

Poetry, puns, and various other word plays are areas where translators generally find themselves confronted with untranslatability. This is due to their association with images, sounds, rhythm, etc.

In video games, where complex stories, in-game dialogues, and scripts are a common occurrence, you should expect a lot of non-translatable texts. Therefore, it’s critical to work with a translation services company that can provide the closest possible alternatives for anything that cannot be translated.

Adapting gameplay to avoid cultural mishaps

Understanding cultural differences is one of the biggest obstacles when it comes to developing a multilingual experience for gamers. The Chinese market is one such example. If your game includes bones, skeletons, and skulls in its design, you will have to adapt it for the Chinese release. Why? Because in China, people consider these visualizations as a symbol of bad omen or bad luck.

In fact, there are instances where the Chinese government censored video games that contained skeletons and blood, such as Dota, WoW, and various other foreign games. Had they relied on Chinese translation services, the situation could have been very different because only the professionals in the translation and localization industry knew how to avoid such cultural issues.

Localizing game code and UI layouts

For creating a localized experience for your multilingual gamers, it’s essential to optimize your code to segregate in-game language from the core files. When you have a proper file and code structure, it will significantly minimize the amount of workload required to test and review the translated experiences. This, in turn, will make it simpler to add other languages when the time comes. 

When the text is translated from one language to the other, it’s subject to expansion or contraction. So when the text expands or contracts, it creates issues in the UI layout. Hence, it’s also necessary to use the appropriate symbols, icons, and color codes to make the game appropriate for different audiences.

Keeping the game experience consistent

So, you have adapted and localized various aspects of your game experience already. Such as icons, symbols, and user interfaces. What else? Well, chances are you might have missed some other aspects of the game, like the characters. Or it could be jokes that were lost somewhere in the translation. 

But your target is to provide the possible user experience in every international market you step in. On the other hand, the delivered experience should not look different from the original. But resemble it as much as possible. Therefore, it becomes a challenge to strike the right balance for each specific market.