This is a post that I wrote a while back for IndieWatch. Originally published on their website.
INTRO: UNLOCK NEXT LEVEL
When your game’s taking off nicely—a steady rise from obscure realms of the underground to the bright spotlight—and sees more weekly downloads and fans that you’ve ever dreamed of, you surely feel like celebrating.
And you certainly should, but also it is the time to think big and unlock the next level of your Game.
It is the time, much like a savior, to bring your game to distant lands and enlighten all their inhabitants who speak weird languages and are forced by Dark Babylon to play games only in those languages and to forever live in darkness about your Game.
The only way to accomplish that mission is to teach your game those weird languages. Luckily, there are mercenaries who’ll help you along the way (you want to ally with them)—they call themselves the IL Team.
They’ll help you release polyglot games.
FAN OR PRO?
Let’s assume you’ve accepted the challenge and set off on a mission to bring your game to distant countries—who would you partner with to teach your game new languages?
Here are your options:
- Engage your fans
- Translate it yourself (only if you’re a polyglot)
- Task your bilingual friends or coworkers
- Hire professional localizers
(Let’s not even put MT on this list, for obvious reasons)
If you’re an indie dev, you’d go with the free option: it’s the best when you’re on a small budget, right?
Hold on, not so fast—it might turn out less favorable option for you than the paid one!
In this post, I’d like to offer one more option which might seem utopian at first glance:
- Fans doing pro quality localization
Also, I’ll show examples from the past of the consequences of opting for free localization and briefly talk about the value of pro localization.
PROFESSIONALS VS. FANS
All this talk about quality is not just a marketing pitch.
A decision between fan and pro localization is hard, but it’s really about making it or breaking it.
See this tweet from Clyde Mandelin, the author of the Legends Of Localization blog:
Localization error impeding the gameplay
The error above could have been avoided easily if the localizer was proficient in Japanese.
Or, to give a visually stimulating example, would you rather your fans were like this (when localization doesn’t make sense):
Or like this (when the localization doesn’t impede the gameplay and the UX is great):
Reviews and Retention
When done right, localization generates better fan reviews which means fewer negative reviews/comments in app stores/on forums and higher retention rates.
And you’d definitely want to avoid the cultural and legal clashes Microsoft and other big makers went through with their games.
The same also holds true when it comes to chatbots, since all the UX is grounded in bot’s “conversational skills,” or its fluency, and the effectiveness of the conversation. User retention will surely suffer if your bot’s foreign language skills are not there and the messages feel stiff.
And, of course, no MT translation shortcuts should be taken. Here’s Max Lobanov’s take on MT (he is Localization Manager at Google for Russia and Eastern Europe):
And many times I’ve seen job posts on freelance job boards, wherein an inopportune website owner looked for localization reviewers to fix the previous localizers’ work—in the end, ending up paying more for localization.
Why not do right the first time by hiring decent specialists?
These were just a few quick points that illustrate the value of pro localization and dangers of going with free and quick.
Fans doing pro quality localization? Possible
Let’s go back to that localization option which does seem unreal at first glance.
Ever wanted your fans produced top-bracket translations? It’s possible with a localization team that embodies the dedication of your fans and the skills of professionals.
I’m happy to be part of a cool indie team that united professional localizers, SEOs, developers, and testers.
We like to think of us as your fan base producing professional results: Many of us have dev background and/or are die-hard gamers, which means we’ll care when working on your game.
You might wanna ask, why are you, guys, so special? Well, let me elaborate on that. Actually, let me share with you a quick insider’s look at the translation industry.
When localizing with agencies, you never know if localizers care about your game or more about $, and if they are localizers at all (as compared to regular translators) and have what it takes… Plus the agency will often try to quote you the highest price and then find the cheapest translators so that their profit is the biggest.
Is this really so? Well, This is how the agency business model works.
Plus agencies often have an in-house or remote staff that needs to get their salaries. Where do their salaries come from? Well, from charging extra on top of the price for localization…
Our team is not your traditional agency with a pool of hundreds, if not thousands, of per-project-minded and per-need hired translators and a full-house staff. In our business model, there are no middlemen (the agency staff) that drive the pricing up. That’s why there is no additional costs for you as you’ll be working directly with your translators.
To be objective here, some agencies do have their own strong incentives. But also not without pain points, which our team solves.
So you should consider wisely: Are there really strong incentives for you to work with an agency or you should go with an indie localization team?
And when localizing with the help of fans, there is a big room for very pricey errors. Localization is a complex undertaking and it should be done by localization specialists.
As we also say on our website, we are not translators, we are localizers with years of experience localizing websites, apps, games, bots, and such. The room for mistake gets slim then.
MEET THE IL TEAM
LOCALIZERS, SEOS, DEVELOPERS, TESTERS
The Indie Localizers Team is a ragtag squad of specialists passionate about websites, apps, bots, video games, and, of course, localization: professional translators, SEOs, developers, and QA/localization/play testers who teamed up to take on more complex and challenging localization jobs that otherwise would’ve been out of reach for mere solo freelancers.
“Indie” fits nicely in the name of our team and it’s in our internal culture too. Our team was created out of the desire to be independent. As an indie dev, you certainly hear us.
Read this blog post to learn more about our values and views.
By the way, if you’ve had your app or game professionally localized, it’s quite likely that you’ve worked with us before without knowing us. We’re the localizers behind most well-known translation companies that you, game devs, might be well-familiar.
Things have changed.
We were faceless then, now we have faces!
Come join our Facebook group, Localization Speak, a fledging forum of sorts where devs and locs can meet, share advice, and learn from each other about launching better products.
Follow us on Twitter, we tweet about loc’n, startups, tech, SEO, growth, promotion, and not only.
By Artem Nedrya,
from The Indie Localizers Team