Translation vs. Localization
Now that you’ve gotten a gander at our Localization 101 guide, we wanted to expand on two of the most common terms you’ll hear when you’re trying to bring your game to a new market — translation and localization.
This one is pretty easy. Translation is the process of converting lines of text from one language into another. Think of it as an academic endeavor — the goal is to make sure the translated text is as accurate and seamless as possible. Something will always be lost in translation (there are plenty of words in foreign languages that do not have an English counterpart), but for the most part, translators try to match the original text as much as possible.
In our business, a good translation is the foundation of a solid localization. That’s why we test to make sure all of our linguists are highly proficient in their assigned language — which isn’t usually a problem since all of our linguists reside in-territory. We never recommend shipping a straight translated game. Box and docs, however, can usually be translated without much need for localization.
While translation is more academic, localization in a bit more business focused. The propose of localization is to bring a product, in our case video games, to a new market. Every market is different, which is why localization is so important. Essentially, localization takes the translated text and makes sure that it fits into the culture and country it’s being sold in. This can include dialogue and story changes — things that are funny and make sense in Japan might not makes sense in the U.S. and visa versa — and can extend to voice acting and character design, as well.
A lot can go wrong if a game isn’t localized correctly — Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest is the latest example of this, unfortunately — and not every game is right for every market.
Have any questions about the differences between translation and localization? Let us know in the comments!