- The world of video games is creative beyond imagination; quite literally so! The PlayStation, Game Boy or even a smartphone is like a portal that opens into an astonishing universe. But what is most astonishing is that irrespective of country, creed, colour or language, gamers the world over are playing the same games.
How is that possible?
Translation and video game localization make it possible for these electronic delights to rule over the gaming world's varied populace.
Video game localization
Video game software and hardware need to be transformed to make them accessible to new regions.
Consider the following names: Masaya Matsuura, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Satoshi Tajiri, Hideo Kojima, and Shigeru Miyamoto. Do you know that these five Japanese gentlemen are among the top ten video game designers? Games like Metal Gear and the all-consuming Pokémon are universal phenomena because of the magic of video game translation and localisation.
The why, when, how of localization
Economic factors drive decisions to localize games. The by-word is profits. Considerations of financial viability dictate how much to localize.
The first level is to avoid localisation altogether. This is possible if the makers feel that a game has a potential market in a new locale with no changes.
The second level is to just localise the packaging and manuals but not the game itself. This is possible if the target market has a fair
understanding of the original language or if the game does not carry much text or story.
The third level involves translating game text while retaining the original audio files, thus making the game understandable in another language without the additional cost of hiring actors for voice-overs. Sub-titles will help the game along.
The final level is the Big Job of localisation where ALL the game's assets will be translated and localised- box packaging, game text, manuals, graphics, audio, etc.
The localisation process
There are many assets to a video game and localisation has to consider them all.
Translation of text is a large chunk of localisation. Not just manuals, scripts and subtitles but utility software like word processors or an internet browser that makes the game interactive need translation into the target language.
There will also be a need for company logos, legal labelling requirements, technical information, etc. to be translated. Space provided in the original will have to be suitably altered and utilised to match the target language.
Art assets have to be altered to retain game aesthetics.
Audio recordings will have to be an expert job where accents and mannerisms of the cast of characters need to be tweaked to suit local flavour.
Cutting out parts of the game or adding on new content.
Video game localisation aims to create an enjoyable experience and this is only possible if the game fits into the cultural context.
The importance of culture
Games are increasingly more story than action driven. Localisation in such cases must consider the target audience's sensibilities and steer clear of sensitive situations. Two examples are:
Video games localised for the German market have to consider the country's strict policies against the depiction of blood, violence, irreverent behaviour and improper language as well as racist symbols like the Nazi Swastika.
China's is not such an open society, and there is strict censorship of content: anything that can be construed as jeopardising the unity or threatening the territorial integrity of the Chinese will be banned.
Localisation must steer clear of controversy or all that money spent on the process goes down the drain when Big Brother cracks down on the finished product. This is probably why most games are set in imaginary lands and worlds!
Localisation shipping models
There are two points in the game developing process where localisation may occur.
The post-gold model allows localisers to access a completed game to go about their work. In this case, because the picture is complete, translation errors are few and far between if present at all. But the downside to this model of shipping is that there is a time lag between the release of the original and the localised versions which might open the door to piracy.
The sim-ship (simultaneous shipment) model works towards the simultaneous release of a game across various markets. Though this circumvents the threat of piracy, it is more prone to errors in translation. This is because a completed version of the game may not be made available to localizers resulting in misreading of context. It's like working to improve a jig-saw puzzle with many of the pieces missing.
Who does the localisation?
Video games have become increasingly sophisticated and complicated. In the 2000s a lone wolf localiser with a phrase book was enough to do the necessary translation/localisation. Today translation and localisation of content into, say, five languages can involve as many as 270 actors and 130 personnel! This is how complex and lengthy the process has become!
Video game localisation needs expertise and is the domain of skilled professionals. Outsourcing translation and localisation to the professionals is a sensible decision.
Stealing intellectual property
With the looming threat to intellectual property, the choice of the translating company becomes crucial. Because of the fear of piracy and 'leaks,' many outsourcers only make portions of the game available. Such 'blind localisation' means working with a lack of context and leads to many errors in game translation and localisation. In fact, sometimes, playing on an almost-completed game gives the localisers a good feel of what is needed and the chance to better their work.
Local customers use search engines like: Google and local business search directories & vertical search directories, to find businesses with their region. Marketing to those audiences at exactly the time they are looking for your services or products is a highly effective means of local search marketing.
Mobile Web & Apps
Penetration of mobile web and ‘apps’ has revolutionized the ways people are accessing online sources to find best local businesses.
Business Directory Listing
Business Listings on local search directories, vertical directories and local classifieds have higher conversion when compared with newspaper advertising.
Engage on Social Media
Engage with your local customers on social channels helps to penetrate your brand, retain customers and build brand loyalty at a very minimal cost.
Online Newspapers Ads
Increase in readership of online newspapers creates a great opportunity to place text and banner ads to reach the target audience with local business deals.
Apart from your website, local online marketing involves marketing of your business name, services, address and phone number so your customers will give you a call or drop into your office.
Mobile App Marketing Life Stages
Mobile’s tremendous impact has been recognized,it’s an essential part of the business, and customers demand and expect a mobile app to be a major touchpoint between them and their favorite brands. In fact, 90% of the time spent on mobile devices is devoted to app use alone, making it clear that customers prefer to shop and interact with brands in a mobile environment rather than other channels. So it’s important to have an intuitive mobile shopping experience.
Marketing and cross-platform promotion are incredibly important in creating brand awareness, acquiring users, and building an audience for your app. If you’ve already spent time, effort, and money on conceptualizing and building your app, the next step is to market your product and make it a success.
A Mobile App product has three marketing life stages:
Pre-launch: Build Awareness
Launch: Focus on App Store Optimization
Post launch: Build and Maintain User Engagement
Pre-launch: Build Awareness
Ask yourself the following:
- Who is your target market?
- What outcome are you seeking?
It’s important to refine your target audiences precisely even if you already identified these target markets when you researched your idea. Reaching a niche audience—one that will respond positively to your app—may be the most effective way to spark word-of-mouth buzz.
From there, decide what your primary objective is: Do you want to achieve the widest possible reach? Focus on building active users? Maximize revenue? The answer to this question affects what marketing channel choices you should make—to buy reach or to encourage repeat visits.
Identifying your main objective will help inform your budget and investment requirements. If your app is initially free while you focus on building the largest possible audience, you’ll need the funds, via investment or otherwise, to support this approach since you won’t be generating revenue at the outset.
Take the time to carefully think through this process; your decisions will drive your marketing program. Your marketing plan must be closely aligned with a business plan that can fund it; both are crucial and shouldn’t be considered in isolation of the other.
When creating your marketing plan, you should research and set out the following items:
- An analysis of your current market
- Your business objectives
- Key marketing strategies
- Steps to achieving your objectives
- Proposed budget
The key marketing strategies you should consider are:
- Public Relations (PR)
- Building an online presence through a website
- List building
- Engagement via social media
- The launch party
Launch: Focus on App Store Optimization
You’ll need to fight hard for your place in the app store. According to Distimo, only 2% of the top 250 publishers in Apple’s App Store are “newcomers.” It’s a similar story in Google Play for Android apps—only 3% of publishers are new.
The app store launch should be your main focus at this point since getting it right is likely to be the single most important factor influencing the success of your app.
App Store Optimization
In their white paper on mobile marketing, Apppli reported that 60% of downloads come from organic searches in the app store. Making sure people can discover your app is crucial.
App store optimization is your positioning and how people will find your app in the app stores. It consists of five main elements:
- The name of the app
- The app icon’s design
- The wording: the right keywords, description, and what’s new sections
- Useful screenshots
- App reviews
It’s a good idea to find at least 10-12 of your friends and family members to help you test and improve on the iterations of your app. Once your launch date draws closer, encourage them to spread the word about it and help build interest in your launch.
In his book Grouped, Paul Adams, who was Facebook’s Global Head of Brand Design, reports that certain individuals are influencers who are more trusted and have greater sway within their social groups than others within those same groups. Try to include as many of these types of people in your test group as you can. It’ll help maximize the social reach of your app’s launch.
Post launch: Build and Maintain User Engagement
Once your app has been launched, you’ll need to continue to create awareness and engagement. If you’re really lucky, early adopters will like some aspect of your app enough to talk about it and recommend it to their friends. Word of mouth is the holy grail of marketing. It’s not only free but also has been measured to be 2-3 times more effective than a promotion you’d run directly because people assign a higher level of trust to a referral.
In addition, you should be prepared to monitor reviews in the app store to pinpoint bugs or issues and resolve them quickly. If users experience bugs, it will result in low ratings for your app and can impact your search visibility. Newly updated apps are more discoverable—and potentially more visible—which is why a focus on fixing bugs can give your app a boost and contribute to future success.
Also, continue to monitor and maintain your social media channels. Be sure to mark milestones with PR efforts and engage with your users. Keep an eye on what your competitors are doing and consider how you could improve upon it. Take note of any good marketing efforts you see and think about how you might replicate them.
The goal is to ensure the people who would be the most interested in your app know about it. By maintaining this focus, you’ll be able to get the best achievable return on investment no matter if you’re measuring it in dollars or time.
When you have a business you know that you need to market it. These days putting ads in the paper just aren't enough. You need to do something online. The Internet is generally how people get all their information these days. Instead of opening a phone book to get a phone number, people turn to the web. Or for just about any reasons people turn to the web. You want to get your name out there and get your information to places that people will see it. One tool you can use is Local PPC. And what exactly does it mean?
PPC stands for pay per click. It's a great way to advertise online for a small investment. For example 'Google AdWords' is a popular PPC ads program. But why is it a quick and easy way to market business online?
Well, you can set it up literally within a few days and effectively achieve results in a short timescale. Unlike SEO (Search Engine Optimization) which may take months to optimize your site for search engine results. So, if you really need a simple way to quickly generate customers, then consider PPC ad campaign.
What you do is decide how much you want to spend on your ad. Then you decide how much you want to spend per day. Once that's set, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. You can end up spending under 5 cents per click, so you are getting a good return on your investment. Since with Local PPC you are only paying when people click on your ad, you are only paying for people who are genuinely interested in your business or your service.
The way the Local PPC works is that your ad pops up whenever someone is searching for the products or service that you provide. The ad pops up on the side of the page when you use Google. It's powered by keywords or phrases that you use AdWords for.
An example of 'AdWords PPC' campaign would be if you are a pizza delivery store called Joe's Pizza in Anytown. When someone goes to Google and searches for 'Pizza Restaurants Anytown', not only will your name show up in the results, but your ad will show up on the site. The ad will have your link in it so all the searcher has to do is click right through to your website. It takes them just a minute and you'll pay only a few cents. And it's cost effective, as you pay nothing unless people click on your ad.
Local PPC marketing will truly provide a laser targeted traffic to your site. And you can easily keep track of how your ads perform. There are tracking tools that you can use such as Google Analytics. When you use those tools, you can see quickly what is working and what isn't. Then you can make instant changes to take advantage of the things that are working. And most importantly, you can speedily grow your business.