Localizing and Developing Games for the Chinese Market (Part 2)
Once you’ve decided to enter the Chinese market (or bring a Chinese game into a Western context), you’ll want to focus on making it successful. Here are some areas to focus on in order to ensure that your game is well-received.
- Translation is critical for the success of game localization. Literal language translation isn’t enough, though—successful translation means making references to Chinese culture, legends, history, and more. If you’re localizing games from China into the western world, keep this principle in mind as well. Some Chinese games use traditional Chinese poems or stories rooted in mythology, which are quite foreign to a western gamer. No matter the direction of your translation, transcreation will be helpful for game users to feel more related to the content. During the translation process, give the translator as much context as you can to improve the translation accuracy and quality.
- Culturalization: As always, adapting the content to the local culture is vital to successfully localizing a game. Here, the culturalization we are talking about is far more than transcreation. You’ll also want to make the game’s elements, including storyline, game roles, conversations, icons, music, and style, cater to the target audience. For example, some Chinese mobile and browser games lack a delicate design and deep meaning, so the content may need to be re-manufactured to win more hearts in Western markets.
- Agile adaptation: A quick turnaround time on many mobile games means that game developers have to fight for more of the market share, so being willing to adapt to the fast pace of the market is key. This is especially important for the Chinese mobile game market: agile responses to the quick-to-market games and a willingness to implement features and strategies for monetization and user retention can help your game succeed.
- Technical issues: Some technical issues may also appear when translation happens between English and Chinese, especially when localization is not planned into the game development phase. For instance, because English is a lengthier language than Chinese, user interface (UI) buttons and text labels might need to be adjusted. In this case, planning for this feature early in development would save the time it took to fix the problem later.
- Visual preferences: When undergoing localization, many games struggle to adapt their user interfaces (UIs). Given the rapid development rate of Chinese games, many user interfaces aren’t well-developed enough for Western gamers. Similarly, Chinese gamers tend to prefer more colorful and busier UIs than Western gamers. When localizing games, developers must adjust their UI to accommodate the preferences of the new market. For example, if you’re localizing a game for Chinese users, the interface elements should be organized and designed based on the Chinese language, down to the buttons, icons, and more.
A friend of mine who works for a game company in Beijing said, “We are currently targeting South East Asia like Thailand and Vietnam this quarter, but we are also eyeing western countries and hoping to get to that market next year or even sooner than that.” The Chinese game industry is in its golden age, and continuing its ambitious growth.
Missed part one? Check it out here: Understanding the Chinese Game Industry (Part 1)