About this Author
John Yunker is founder of Byte Level Research
and author of the widely acclaimed book, Beyond Borders: Web Globalization Strategies
and editor of Global By Design
He has covered the emerging field of Web globalization for half a decade and has published a wide range of reports dedicated to best practices in Web localization and internationalization.
About this blog
Going Global focuses on the risks and rewards of expanding into new geographic and cultural markets, from Web globalization to international marketing to global usability.
Web Globalization |
Wireless & Video Game Globalization
December 6, 2005
Like Hollywood studios, video game makers are upping the stakes on global launches of new products -- trying to reach more markets more quickly. But to do so successfully requires a signficant investement in product localization.
Video game maker EA announced yesterday that it was opening a game localization center in Singapore for serving the Asian market. This was not a huge surprise as the company announced in its 2005 annual report:
We believe that in order to increase our sales in Asia, we will need to devote signiÑcant resources to hire local development talent and expand our infrastructure, most notably, the expansion and creation of studio facilities to develop content locally for each market. In addition, we may establish online game marketing, publishing and distribution functions in China.
EA generated 47% of revenues from outside the US and I expect we'll see that number surpass 50% by 2007, depending on the success of this center. Game localization is not as simple as localizing a Web site. Many of the violent products that sell well in the US won't make it past the censors in Asian and European markets. Which means the product itself must be changed.
It will be interesting to see what percentage of localization stays in house and what percentage gets outsourced. Babel Media is one such localization specialist and they've done quite well lately.
If you want to learn more, there's even a book out about video game localization and I interviewed the author, Heather Chandler, about six months ago.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Wireless & Video Game Globalization
November 25, 2004
For Microsoft's video game Halo 2 to become a global success story, the game needed to be localized for the world.
Easier said that done.
JBL Localization issued a press release announcing their role in creating a Latin American Spanish version of Halo 2. The release sheds light on just how complex video game localization can be. Here's an excerpt:
A lot of people look at video game localization the same way they look at Web localization -- like photocopying.
According to JBI Localization President Eliane Barth, the Halo 2 project involved more than 80,000 words of script, including a promotional trailer, and the recording of more than 30 actors reading the lines of the various characters. In one instance, Barth said, a last minute script change required that 14 actors be rounded up for a next-day recording session. The actors arrived at the studio on schedule and the work was completed that day. Altogether, JBI delivered more than 16,000 audio files, including processing.
Yet this analogy is dangerous, because it implies that computers can do the heavy lifting and that the process itself requires little time or skill. But, as JBL illustrates, localizing a video game requires many of the same skills that went into the creating the original video game.
Here's another excerpt:
Specifications for the project were extremely rigid, Barth said. For example, audio loop lengths were required to be within five percent of their lengths in the English language version.
What JBL had to do is return translated audio "loops" that were nearly the same length as the English-language loops. Anyone who has learned another language or watched a subtitled movie knows full well that translations rarely align, word for word, with the source language. So, to ensure that the loops stayed aligned, JBL had to both translate for time length as well as manage the audio talent to make sure they spoke more quickly or more slowly to "hit their marks."
For more information on this emerging field of video game localization, check out this Q&A I conducted recently.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Translation | Wireless & Video Game Globalization
November 8, 2004
Here is an interesting Q&A with Peter Moore, global marketing chief of Microsoft's Xbox. They have offered a subscription-based, online Xbox service for a couple years now and we find that Microsoft now offers the service in 24 countries and has over a million subscribers. Not too shabby.
Here the most relevant excerpt from the interview:
We are trying now to globalize our marketing message, something that has never been done in our industry before. Typically, the marketing message has been regional, if not local. Now we have this incredible vehicle called Xbox Live, which gives us the opportunity to speak with one voice to a consumer, whether in Beijing, Bangkok, or Barcelona.
... Certainly soccer was one area we felt required no translation, no real localization and no explanation of the rules. It crosses all boundaries, all continents, and the ability for someone to play a game against somebody else 5,000 miles away -- the identical game and they both totally understand what's going on -- it's an incredible experience. Having already done it myself -- it blows me away.
So, that and some other media deals that we haven't announced yet are great examples of the things that we're trying to do to globalize our message so that when you get off a plane anywhere in the world you feel that Xbox has the same positioning, the same statement to the consumer, and stands for the same things. Typical to our industry, it's been very, very regionalizing. You can even see different taglines depending on which continent you're on.
You've hit a little rough patch in Japan. Why is that?
Well, we've issued mea culpas weekly. I was just there two weeks ago giving my latest mea culpa. We made some fundamental errors -- which we're very cognizant of, and don't hide behind -- on some industrial design and some content strategy. As a result, we got off to a very rough start, and the Japanese market is somewhat unforgiving. They are very, very quality-focused consumers -- perhaps the most quality-focused in the world -- particularly in regard to consumer electronics.
Our launch was less than stellar in the areas I've just mentioned, and it's difficult to recover. However, we've been doing a tremendous amount of work to make sure that when the next generation arrives, that Japan is a very, very important part of the next generation for us. I can guarantee we won't make the same mistakes the second time around. We're a company that's pretty good at getting it right, if not the first time, certainly the second time.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Globalization | Wireless & Video Game Globalization
October 29, 2004
I recently interviewed Heather Chandler, author of The Game Localization Handbook.
Game localization is much more than a niche industry these days. Today, video games may be console-based, Internet-based, and even phone-based. It's a fascinating, emerging industry. In the interview, Heather provides a number of insights:
- Game localization is a growth industry. Heather provides tips for those who want to join.
- Game localization presents very unique challenges. Find out what Healther learned when localizing a WWII flight-simulation game for Germany.
- Find out what game developer does the best job of game localization.
- Find out how long it takes to localize a video game for a new market.
For the full interview, click here.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Software Localization | Translation | Wireless & Video Game Globalization