Game Localization Vs. Software Localization: What is the difference?


It depends on the product and how we should localize it using multiple varieties of localization techniques. It can be software, an app, or website localization. And today, we will speak about game localization.

According to some research, 120 billion dollars has been surpassed in the year 2021 in mobile gaming. It is huge, right?

Hence, the game localization services have turned out very important for companies that develop games to present their products in another country or a new region.

Let us dive into a mobile game and video game localization and learn the differences between these and software localization. We will also talk about the various challenges that one might face while dealing with game localization.

What do we mean by Game Localization?

Game localization is all about adapting mobile and video games for a variety of languages and regions.

It contains linguistic translation, but there are many other things that it includes. They are:

  • Localizing the audio
  • Altering the art assets
  • Monetization strategy adaptation
  • Color schemes and design adaptations
  • Adapting to local legal requirement checking, if needed
  • Hardware transformation
  • Game elements that are inappropriate for various cultures can be cut out.

What is the importance of Game Localization?

Game localization is a crucial step that helps make a game internationally recognized and successful. Economic factors are the sole deciding factors as the potential new profits are associated with entering the new markets.

Well-done localization help in making the games more understandable and enjoyable for foreign players. It also helps make the overall game playing experience consistent and native by adapting to a specific culture and context.

If we talk about numbers, the world’s largest video game market on the earth is China. China generates about 30% of the revenues in the global market. Gaming culture in the Asia-Pacific countries is booming, and it makes up 55% of the total global sales in the gaming market.

About $46.01B is the worth of China gaming market with 685.48M users, according to Newzoo Platform. However, the United States has a worth of $40.54B with 191.12M players compared to the data of China.

The mentioned numbers motivate the game development companies for adapting games for new cultural regions to make them sustain and rock.

Game development companies consider game localization essential but is it different from software localization? What are the peculiarities to consider when they enter new potential markets?

Challenges that come with Game Localization

  • Embed texts into a game’s core files: Hard coding texts in the game’s core files are a mistake that can cost any business a fortune. You should not hard-core the title file of your game, on-screen dialogue, and menu text because it will be looked through source code so that you can add translated texts into the game. You should try to store the texts in the form of variables and keep them separate in resource files. It will make the whole localization process easy.
  • Forget about lack of brevity: In the game, localization is one of the crucial challenges. Fitting all the texts into limited buttons and screen sizes is challenging. It is vital for mobile where the screen size is comparatively smaller than laptop screen sizes or computer screen sizes for playing games. You need to ensure to leave enough space between the buttons used for languages like Russian or German because these languages have words that are generally longer than English words. You should also try to eliminate every unnecessary word by cutting the sentences wherever possible. Only those sentences should be cut, which does not make any sense.
  • Change pictures and color schemes: You should keep in mind that every different color depicts different meanings in different cultures. For example, in western culture, the red color is associated mainly with danger, while in China, the red color is associated with happiness. If you have different pictures of the people in the game, you should try adapting to the region and country according to the selected locality.
  • Remove inappropriate game elements: We know that some games have certain elements that are inappropriate or hostile to some cultures. For example, Arabic culture is a lot different from the culture in European countries. Thus, what is inappropriate to one culture might be acceptable to other foreign cultures.
  • Adapt monetization policy: Another essential thing that needs consideration is the monetization policy. Different audiences have different capabilities when it comes to paying for the games. Thus, you need to consider this while entering a new market for gaming. Some audiences prefer in-app purchases (free-to-free play), while some prefer subscription models. In China, some also prefer ad-funded games over premium titles.
  • Say “no” to translate and “yes” to transcreate: Transcreation is about adapting the message to the local audience by removing, changing, or adding content. While translating means replacing words with the exact meaning in some other language.
  • Give more context: Translators sometimes do not have the game context, which leads to wrong translations. You need to give as much information as possible regarding your game to avoid this situation. Tell your team of localization about the title by creating style guides and glossaries, showing trailers or visuals, and giving a plot summary. To make the process easy you can use professional TMSs (translation management systems). TMSs offer the users’ translation memory tools and glossaries. It is a very good practice to give the translators your game to play. They can take time and form a detailed translation for your game.


You should always remember that game localization is not an optional step. You should not leave or procrastinate for the last few days right before releasing the game into a new market. Game localization should be among your core steps, and you should take it seriously as other work in the game development process.