Capturing a larger audience is the goal of any game developer and they can spend weeks or months developing the game but often fail to include localization of the game. Major game F95zone portals recognize the importance of making their web sites more accessible so they often have multiple language settings and this is something game developers should learn from from. Web games often rely on word of mouth distribution so why not increase your chances of success by localizing the game to reach a broader international audience.
Recognizing the importance of this extra step of work that could help increase your web games international appeal is something many game developers should take to heart. If you plan properly for this step ahead of time, it is a fairly inexpensive and easy step to add to any game you develop. Localization can seem like a daunting task but I will outline some helpful tips for any game developer to easily add this feature and hopefully increase their international player base.
Upon visiting some of the more prominent game portals you will notice you usually have a language setting that you can set the language of the web page. Unfortunately many of the games they offer do not allow this same choice once you are actually playing the game which could be potentially a turn off for any prospective gamers. Frustrating the player by not having something as simple as menu text or buttons is something that should be avoided at all costs.
Why would this extra work be important if you can’t even speak or write the language you are localizing the game? I will break this down into two parts. One part is understanding the importance of potential new users from emerging gamer markets such as Latin America and European countries such as Poland. The other part is realizing it is unrealistic to do the localization yourself but rather how to inexpensively outsource the localization work to companies that specialize in those areas.
The importance of the Latin American market for example is immense. Some statistics just for South America (not including Mexico) puts the connected Internet uses at over 104 million users or a 27.1% penetration rate vs their total population rate. Of these Internet users, only 12.3 million users have broadband connections which is a 3.3% penetration rate vs their total connected user base. Another encouraging number is the predicted growth of Mexico’s Internet population is set to hit almost 40 million users by 2011(Via Emarketer.com).
What we can learn from this is there is a huge Internet ready population just south of North America and if you can develop compact and interesting web games that are translated into these languages your chances of your web games achieving success increases greatly.
Recently Sony has made huge strides in order to capitalize on the potential market for their hardware and games. Split into three phases they aim to capitalize on the appetite of gamers eager to play games localized and marketed towards them. It is a safe bet that if a large company like Sony plans to address this audience, you as an smaller game developer, should take notice as well.
So as a web game developer you understand the importance and potential of this market but where do you start? You might not have the capital to spend thousands of dollars on this aspect of your game development or the time to invest. The good news is if you plan accordingly you can do a localization of one language of your game for around 20-80 dollars.
The first part of doing this is to make sure before hand all the important text information of your game is accessible in one file that you can easily paste into an email or text file. Avoid duplicates and shorten up any instructional text to avoid any unnecessary text as most localization services charge per word. Only include the most important and integral parts of the game instructions or menus in this file. One thing to also avoid doing is putting any text directly in the 2d button art or menus as you won’t be able to change that in a localization pass. Instead, make a blank button and overlay 2d programmable text over the buttons.