The Gaming industry is more competitive than ever, enough that finding success in just one market is a challenge. Of course, there’s nothing quite like learning that your game is now one of the most downloaded titles in several countries outside of your own. While luck is always a factor, global success isn’t going to happen unless you prepare.
The following are several oversights many game developers make when trying to turn their new game into an international sensation.
Mistake #1: Don’t Study Their Culture
Localization is the term used to describe when a game is prepared for other areas. The most obvious reason for this is language. Your game won’t have much luck in China or South America where English isn’t regularly spoken. But what some fail to realize is that language translation, although very important, is only part of the process.
Localization also requires an understanding of the respective area’s culture, including popular trends, the food they eat, country traditions, and more. So if the American version of your game has cheeseburgers or hotdogs as health items, it would make a big difference changing those to sushi rolls for the Japanese release. These little things can go a long way and even save your came from coming off as disrespectful, which is why the top developers always do what they can to make a game more acceptable in specific countries.
Mistake #2: Don’t Study The Country’s Market
It only takes one look at the highest selling games of an area to see how different each market really is. According to Famitsu, the 10 best-selling video games in Japan throughout 2015 consisted of 8 3DS titles. Clearly handheld games are much more popular in Japan than in other countries. On the other hand, Americans favored console games like Batman: Arkham Knight, Call of Duty: Black Ops III, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
By studying a specific country’s market you can learn right away if it’s even worth the effort to localize your game. If your game is similar to other titles that are big there, do some research to study their marketing strategies and reasons why they were successful. You’re setting yourself up for failure if you simply toss your game into another country without a plan.
Mistake #3 Use The Same Monetization Strategy
If there’s one thing that frustrated mobile game makers, it’s that the average American has no problem dropping more than $5 on a coffee that will be gone in a few minutes. That same person sees a $5 game on the App Store and thinks “too expensive” before opting for a free or $1 game instead. With so many freemium games out there these days, it’s tougher than ever for games with price tags to sell well on mobile platforms.
Now imagine a country where the average wage is less than that of Europe and the West. In other words, your game’s monetization model isn’t guaranteed to work in every country it is released on. Avoid overlooking how different other markets are by studying the pricing of other games, including cash shop features found in free-to-play titles.
Mistake #4: Starting The Localization Process Late
Like we mentioned before, localization is more than just getting someone to translate text and dialogue. There are also art and sound assets like currency symbols and voice dialogue that may need to be changed. If done toward the later stages of development, this will require getting messy with code in hopes of replacing the original content with the new stuff.
Good game developers begin coding their games in preparation for this. In doing so, the process of localization goes smoother and takes less time, especially if you plan on releasing in more than two countries/locales. You’ll also avoid any bugs and technical problems that rear their ugly head when code is being altered in a hurry.