[MUSAI] User Response Analysis Article, “More Than Half (54%) of gamers Prefer the Korean Dubbed Version of ‘Cyberpunk 2077’”

2021-01-29

 

About a month since ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ was released, feedback was exchanged between various media outlets and online gaming communities. We also took an active interest in monitoring the reaction of the Korean gaming community about the localization of ‘Cyberpunk 2077’. Last December, we evaluated the media reviews with our article ‘The media reviews of ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ Korean Localization,’ and with this article, we will investigate the opinions of users and gamers alike.

 

Part 1. ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ Voice-over, which language is preferred?

Before we start, we state that the sources of the data used in this article are the users’ comments about Korean voice-over of ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ extracted from YouTube, game communities, webzines, blogs, etc. The result of aggregating 200 comments related to Korean voice-over showed that 54% preferred Korean, 33% preferred original language (English), and 13% neutral.

 

The top two reasons for the Korean Dubbing preference are as follows: 1. Sense of full immersion in the game (56%), 2. Great acting performance from the voice talents (34%). As for reasons for preferring the English Voice, 1. Awkwardness (54%), 2. Lack of acting skills compared to English-speaking actors (30%) were the main reasons.

[Image 1] The result of aggregating 200 comments related to Korean voice-over showed that 54% preferred Korean dubbed version of <Cyberpunk 2077>

 

Part 2. Let’s dissect the reasoning for these preferences

Preference is an opinion reflecting personal taste or feelings, so there is no such thing as right or wrong. In this context, there was an interesting phenomenon for the reason for their preferences. After detailed analyzation of the comments, we found out that some people say they felt awkward in some scenes which others felt very natural, and some like the acting while others felt it’s not good enough. Let’s find out in more detail by reviewing actual comments.

 

Korean voice-over, this is why I liked it!

First. Sense of immersion

The word ‘Immersion’ came first and most dominant. Many mentioned that playing while listening to Korean voice instead of looking at subtitles made the playing experience of the first-person view game more immersive. ‘Not having to look at the bottom of the screen really helps to be absorbed into the game,’ said the users, also highlighting ‘with so many dialogues, it is impossible to imagine reading all the captions while playing.’ Adding, ‘it certainly decreases tiredness.”

[Image 2] Hanryang, a famous Korean gaming Youtuber mentioned the Korean voice-over maximized the sense of immersion in ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ (Source: Youtube channel of ‘Hanryang)

 

The word ‘Immersion’ came first and most dominant. Many mentioned that playing while listening to Korean voice instead of looking at subtitles made the playing experience of the first-person view game more immersive. ‘Not having to look at the bottom of the screen really helps to be absorbed into the game,’ said the users, also highlighting ‘with so many dialogues, it is impossible to imagine reading all the captions while playing.’ Adding, ‘it certainly decreases tiredness.”

[Image 3] The users’ comments that mentioned the sense of immersion for the reason to prefer the Korean dubbed version (Source: Musai Studio)

 

Additionally, the key word ‘enjoyment of playing’ the game was also often mentioned along with ‘sense of immersion.’ When playing the game with dubbed voices, many said they ‘didn’t know the feeling of enjoying the game itself was so great,’ adding ‘instead of spending energy on reading subtitles,’ they ‘could focus on other elements of the game, such as listening to the radio news (within the game) and other NPCs.’ Reading such evaluation, it seemed as our biggest purpose as a localization company has been conveyed to the users.

[Image 4] The users’ comments that mentioned the enjoyment of playing for the reason to prefer the Korean dubbed version (Source: Musai Studio)

 

Second. Performance of the voice actors

The natural and realistic acting of the voice actors was the second most mentioned reason for preferring Korean voice-over. Especially, coarse language that were sealed (so to speak) in the game world so far literally poured out in this M-rated game, ‘Cyberpunk 2077,’ and users who heard such words delivered by good actors raised their voice of welcome.

[Image 5] The users’ comments that mentioned the performance of the voice actors for the reason to prefer the Korean dubbed version (Source: Musai Studio)

 

Why do you prefer the original language over Korean voice-over?

First. Awkwardness

Many users who preferred the original voice, thought so because they thought the Korean dubbing sounded ‘awkward.’ There were various reasons for feeling awkward hearing Korean dubbed voices, including reasons like “western characters speaking Korean so fluently feels uncanny,” “characters cursing too much rather seem awkward, especially ‘shit’ appears too much,” and “no one actually pronounce every alphabet so clearly when they swear.”

[Image 6] The users’ comments that mentioned the awkwardness for the reason to prefer the English dubbed version (Source: Musai Studio)

 

Second. Acting skills of the actors

Interestingly, this is the same second most referred reason why the users prefer Korean dubbing. But it was mentioned in a different meaning. Some commented that “the characters don’t seem like they are interacting each other when they are having conversation,” and “the acting of voice actors is not harmonious and feels unnatural.”

[Image 7] The users’ comments that mentioned the performance of the voice actors for the reason to prefer the English dubbed version (Source: Musai Studio)

 

Part 3. What we need to work on

Preparing this article, we went through numerous reviews and comments, and concluded: the recent Korean voice-over of ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ act as a great opportunity to break down another barrier in the area of game dubbing, since feedback from the users commenting they have stepped a foot into a world of new depth of immersion game dubbing has brought to them, was dominant. However, the fact that the barrier of game dubbing is not so thin remains as our future task.

 

Opinion about coarse language

Quite a lot of users commented that “the use of swearing is rather satisfying,” and “instead of using ‘gentle’ swear words conscious of regulations, use of bold and realistic words is very good.” On the other hand, however, many also commented that “hearing coarse language too often tires me,” or “the voice actors’ pronunciation is too clear, and it sounds rather awkward.” Through these comments, it was clear that the users’ needs and standards for use of vulgar language in games with proper tonal control and through varied words were raised higher, compared to when the use of bold coarse language itself attracted attention. Thus, more detailed control and efforts must be made continuously in the sensitivity and expression of dialogues.

[Image 8] Johnny Silverhand spitting out the f-word in the cinematics (Source: the screenshot of ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ trailer

 

Users expect Ideal and natural voice-over

There are many limitations in voice recording, which require to convey every emotion just with voice, without other nonverbal elements such as facial expression, gestures, and actions. Clearer vocalization and pronunciation are important, and expression of emotions must be clear as well. This is where the uncanny feeling appears; it feels different from the real-world conversation and feel rather dramatic. Moreover, game dubbing is often difficult to have the natural feelings that varies according to its situational backgrounds, since the recordings are taken by each character without fully understanding its situation or relationships between other characters.

 

This will be our ongoing task, as we proceed with game localization. Overcoming the current limitations with active data support from developers, excellent acting of voice actors, and the experience of our localization team, we may reach little further to the ideal game dubbing that users crave.

 

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