The indie developers who promote their own games are aware of the localization's importance. Yes, many gamers understand English pretty well, but, still, the localization can help build a stronger game's community in foreign countries and even increase its sales.
Most gamers who don't speak English still prefer searching for only for those Steam games that have the subtitles or voiceover in their native language. So, localization is important if you want to sell your games outside the USA or UK. The voiceover is more complicated thing to do for indie developers, while the localization through subtitles is a quicker and more affordable solution.
When it comes to the localization of an English-native game, indie developers has a few options to choose from:
- Google Translate;
- Friends who agreed to help with the translation;
- Professional localization studios.
The first option is pointless. Don't even try it. Google Translate can't help you, especially with Russian or Chinese languages. The short phrases can be translated pretty well. But the longer phrases will completely lose their meaning and become a senseless rubbish.
If you have a loyal fan community that is ready to translate your game for free and even before the official release on Steam, consider yourself a lucky one. However, despite the fan's loyalty and passion, many fan-made translations are bad and frequently lose the important context during the translation. Also, many fan-supported translations stop the halfway because you can't ask people work for free till the end, especially if they've lost interest or simply have no time to continue.
The same can be said about friends — they can't promise the excellent and complete translation timely.
The only option if you want a good localization is the professional translation. Yes, it costs money, but the expansion of the target audience for your game thanks to the professional localization is definitely worth it. And even the professional localization studios can make mistakes and lose the context meaning during the translation. That is why it is important to find the experienced and truly dedicated localization specialists who play the game before translating and are really prone to translate it in the right way. Unfortunately, only a few companies can offer such professional localization services for indie developers without the necessity to spend the transcendental budget.
This information is the food for thought. Further, we want to review the recent Russian text localization of the popular indie project The Darkest Dungeon.
First things first, the localization from English to Russian for this particular game was done at the decent level. However, being the native Russian speakers, we have noticed the mistakes that are common to many, even official AAA localization projects. Context mistakes
This is the most common problem for all translations, including the process of any game's localization. This happens when the translators have not played the game completely or work on different parts of the game, without discussing the common context, terms, names, etc.