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1 Apr 2015

Expanding Your Indie Studio: Localization

We live in a world in which there truly is no such thing as a closed market – especially when it comes to indie gaming. It is just as lucrative to release your indie game to a foreign market. When it comes to expanding your indie studio, it’s one of the best things you can do!

But what is localization?

To sum is up, it’s essentially the translation of your indie game from one language to another. But it’s not that simple, either. You have to also translate the context of your indie game to another culture – much easier said than done. Localization also involves tweaking the presentation of your game. As you know, the characters and overall presentation of your indie game may not be as well received in other markets as it is in your native one: by knowing this and tweaking it to appeal to other markets, you will be setting your indie game up for success.

That’s a lot to take in, and it all starts with…

Find your market, identify top games

While this goes without saying, we’re still going to touch on it anyway. Before you attempt to break into a market, research the market to see which games sell the best. This will keep you from localizing and selling a game that won’t garner any interest (and as a result, no sales). Don’t waste your time – plan ahead!

‘Culture-proof’ your in-game text

What do we mean by this? Simple: ensure that the text in your game is simple, to-the-point, and easily translatable by those that will be translating your game’s text. Avoid using slang, phrases that will not translate well, and jargon that we use every day without even thinking about it. Ensure that your in-game text is punchy, straightforward, and is easily translatable.

Not only will this make the job of the translator easier, but it will save considerable time. We wrote a post about writing easily translatable text last year, so give it a read to learn more about the best approach to your in-game text.

Hiring native speakers

Unless you are a native speaker of the market you are trying to break into, you are going to have to hire a professional to help you with this. We’ve mentioned this in our recipe for localization post before, but just as a refresher, hire native speakers that are also:

  • Avid gamers
  • Familiar with the culture of the market you want to break into
  • Have a grasp on your language as well as their native language

Be sure to also provide context for the localization expert as well such as your market, the target demographic, the genre of the game, and more. In other words, communicate often. Communication is key when it comes to localization, and will make the difference between a successful localization and one that falls flat to players.

Localization testing

When you think you’ve finished, you haven’t. Localization testing is of the upmost importance before you submit your indie game to a foreign market to ensure that everything feels accurate and solid. We’ve written an entire post over localization testing before so we’re not going to go into everything, but be sure to:

  • Use correct date and time formats.
  • Currency formats.
  • Text bleeding problems.
  • So much more.

Honestly, we can’t fully prepare you for what lies ahead for you. Localization is usually quite tricky – just be sure to use common sense as you work with your localization professional and localize your indie game. If something sounds offs or looks funny, it needs to be fixed. Test your localized game, ask for feedback, and fix issues accordingly.

Do you have any questions about localization? Let us know in the comments below!

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