How to Succeed in Game Localization by Catering to Users ‘Very Vocal About Quality’

Video Game Localization 2023

SlatorCon Remote March 2023 put the spotlight on game localization — the smallest, yet fastest-growing segment of the language services industry, according to Slator’s Game Localization Report

Slator’s Anna Wyndham, Head of Research, hosted the Game Localization Panel with Marie Amigues, Founder and CEO of Altagram, and Tugdual Delisle, Managing Director of Lionbridge Games.

The expert panel briefed attendees on what it takes to localize games successfully, attain the highest quality, and implement technology.

For game localization providers to be successful, the experts agreed that you need to offer a broad range of services and stay on top of key trends such as the move towards a Games-as-a-Service (GaaS) model, increased and more varied types of content, and finding qualified translators to offer language combinations that don’t go via an English pivot.

Delisle sees translator recruitment as an issue that is the language industry’s collective responsibility. He describes Lionbridge’s approach with a team of Community Managers who explore unconventional sources to find translators, such as in other markets, universities, or the gaming community.

Technology, especially machine translation (MT), can help solve these challenges to some extent. Indeed, MT is sometimes necessary, Amigues emphasized. MT can, for instance, ensure consistency, facilitate coordination, and reduce turnaround times.

However, MT has limitations in game localization as content is highly creative and emotive. There is also pushback against MT from some game companies and translators. Amigues believes this is partially due to the legacy of using engines such as Google Translate for fast game translation, which produced poor quality output and gave MT “very bad publicity.”

“Of course, this is a vicious cycle,” Delisle points out. MT engines are not developed for games so output quality is low. But this will not improve if we do not start using MT for games as there will be no training data.

Nevertheless, Delisle now sees MT as “growingly and intelligently used” in the game localization process. He envisions fast acceleration in its development and deployment, explaining, “we are at the beginning of the hockey curve.”

Very Sensitive to Quality

A hastened improvement in MT cannot come soon enough for an industry in which users are “very vocal when the quality does not meet their standards,” Delisle says. He ascertains that game users seem to be more concerned with the quality of translated content than in other spheres, likely because they are paying for a whole experience.

For Amigues, the increasing interest in quality from users, developers, and publishers is a positive sign that the gaming and language industries are on the same page about quality. This should facilitate the localization process as it aligns with what our industry wants to achieve as well: high quality translation and localization.

The panel finished with questions from the audience and Amigues and Delisle shared their excitement for the future — “a new era”, according to Amigues.

For those who missed SlatorCon Remote March 2023 in real-time, recordings are available via Slator’s Pro and Enterprise plans.