Balancing Culture And Creativity: The Challenges Of Game Localization

Gartner’s technology research says the worldwide video game market worth increased from 79 billion dollars in 2012 to 93 billion dollars in 2013. And it will likely surpass $100 billion this year. 

The global popularity of gaming and the resulting localization necessity translate into several significant new hurdles for developers. This is nowhere more evident than in game firms’ efforts to enter the rapidly expanding Chinese market.

As the game industry grows, localization enables enterprises to establish themselves in new markets and broaden their opportunities. The localization process is time-consuming and difficult. Various reputable professional game localization services offer the entire process of game localization. 

Today, we’d like to discuss 9 real challenges encountered during the localization of video games.

Video game localization challenges:

  • HTML
  • Placeholders
  • Brevity
  • Target language intonation
  • “You” form
  • Quoting unquotable quotes
  • Slang
  • Swearing is different in every language
  • Miscellaneous oversights


Small, short lines of code that are damaged or missing can occasionally cause problems. When easy-to-fix code faults are deferred to the closest code writer, the process can be slowed down by someone else’s error. It not only increases localization efficiency and maintains seamlessness but also enhances the value of your client services.

2. Placeholders

Placeholders are tiny bits of code that fill in blank spaces in lines of text so that permanent text can be added later. Alternatively, it could take the shape of a word in all uppercase or another placeholder. Therefore, it is crucial that placeholders not be translated or altered!

The game may experience significant issues if placeholders are unintentionally changed or deleted. Mainly when translating phrases into languages like German and Russian when the placeholder’s value is required. This protocol’s errors could result in serious problems.

3. Brevity

Although it may seem simple enough, brevity (the concise use of words in writing or speech) calls for a fair amount of finesse, particularly when delivering essential information. It’s important to remember that message boxes in games and on screens are typically relatively small, so translations should be kept as brief as possible to fit this constrained space while presenting the information (however, don’t use unnecessary abbreviations unless the client requests them).

Having said that, while conciseness is crucial for game translation, clarity should always come first. For users to understand what to do with ease and avoid wasting time by confusing players with unclear command options and other in-game elements, information must be complete.

4. Always follow your target language intonation

Never translate the user interface verbatim, particularly the instructions. For instance, Europeans are sweet. The Americans are also lovely. Canada as well. They ask that you “please” remove the disk and press the button. But natural Russian speakers are grumpy! If they don’t like you, they never say “please”. Therefore, in the translated language for Russian localization, such English “pleases” must NOT be present. Push the button, that’s all. Period. Some East-Asian societies, where such attempts are typically viewed as needless, wouldn’t understand this either. Always be sure to localize utilizing language and communication styles that give players the impression of dealing with someone nearby rather than someone halfway around the world. Always remember that when you localize something, you should do it for YOUR clients so they feel it’s primarily for them.

5. “You” form

The user must always be addressed politely if your language provides such a form (for instance, in Russian or French). You may think that gamers are small and childish, but that doesn’t mean they want to be treated like kids (unless they are, of course). (Of course, this has nothing to do with the dialogue between characters; it’s merely about the user interface, guidelines, alerts, manuals, and other things.)

6. Quoting unquotable quotes

Like slang terms, quotes frequently lack exact translations or alternative expressions close enough to be used in a game’s translation. It was probably a mistranslated quote if you hear a gaming character say something odd. Try substituting the quote with something appropriate in the language the game is being translated into if that doesn’t work (as long as the meaning is not changed). By just looking up the accurate translation on Google, you might be able to avoid trouble.

7. Slang

When translators aren’t familiar with the slang used in the locale for which they are localizing a game, the essence of the game may be drastically affected. Before you begin, ask about the slang used in the game and the region for which the translation is intended. The next step is to determine which slang terms and expressions can be translated into your native tongue and which must be expressed exactly as is.

8. Swearing is different in every language

Diverse words have different connotations and messages. For instance, compared to English, Russian is far more expressive. The same goes for the Russian “cursing language.” The word “f@#k” cannot typically be translated literally into Russian. It’s easy to say in English: “f@#k this, f@#k that,” “I’m bored,” “f@#k that.” However, a native Russian speaker wouldn’t phrase it that way since it would sound much more emotive because the Russian equivalent of this word is considerably more expressive. It will sound like, “Oh, we’re utterly f@#ked,” in Russian. Not to mention that it is strictly prohibited in most of these locations. Remember your local laws as well. Use common sense and translate appropriately, emphasizing the MESSAGE, not the word itself, that your character is trying to convey.

9. Miscellaneous oversights

As shocking as it may seem, mistakes are occasionally made even by the top professionals in a field. Game localization is a challenging task. Because of this, there are only two types of workers in the sector: those who have committed a serious localization mistake and those who are likely to do so. Every now and then, we all make a mistranslation, a dreadful typo, or encounter some sort of failure. Don’t worry. Everything is doable. Therefore nothing should prevent you from continuing to develop your art.


In today’s globalized world, localization minishortner has become a critical component of any successful gaming strategy. To achieve the best outcomes and reach the broadest possible audience, it’s essential to work with a team that has both gaming and localization experience. Such a team can help you navigate the complex world of language and culture, minimizing obstacles and ensuring that your game is accessible and engaging to players worldwide. By doing so, you can expand your market and increase your revenue while providing an excellent gaming experience to your players. So if you want to take your gaming to the next level, make sure you partner with a team with the experience and expertise to help you achieve your goals.

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