[MUSAI] Multilingual Voiceover for Your Game: ① Which Languages Should I Select?

2021-05-28

 

It’s not difficult to find reports and data discussing the correlation between game localization and its sales. Most of them conclude that selecting more languages for localization increases the revenue, however they are usually considering text localization, not audio localization.

[Image 1] Revenue by number of languages and number of countries (source: Multilingual)

 

Audio localization costs about 10 times more than localizing in-game text only. Therefore, many do not even consider doing it from the start, or if it’s considered, many factors and possibilities are examined thoroughly. Moreover, depending on the nature of each game and their target markets, the languages to be dubbed must be selected differently, so there is no clear answer for that which languages should be dubbed for games. Nevertheless, as audio localization is now becoming a success factor for games, with the users’ positive feedback and marketing effects, more and more are showing their interest in dubbed games. So, we are preparing a series of articles to answer questions you might have, regarding preparing for game audio localization into multiple languages. In this article, we will investigate which languages are generally selected for game audio localization.

 

Top 10 Languages for the Game Audio Localization by Global Sales

If you are asking, “Which languages to choose for game localization,” the top global sales list might be helpful. Accordingly, the following is the ‘Top 10 Countries by Game Revenues Chart” from <Newzoo>. You may have already seen this chart, since it is frequently used in many reports. Let’s look at the top countries first and continue discussing about the language.

[Image 2] 2020 Top 10 countries by Game Revenues (source: Newzoo)

▶ Source Link: https://newzoo.com/insights/rankings/top-10-countries-by-game-revenues/

 

Let’s see each market included in the top 10 list. When localizing into Chinese, political issues such as the acquisition of a license to publish games. For the United Kingdom, American English or International English can be used, unless British English is strictly needed. In the case of Canada, English and French can be used, except for some cases which Canadian French is needed.

Except for the cases mentioned above, the most frequently selected languages for the audio localization chart will look almost identical with the game revenues chart.

The Most Selected Languages for the Game Localization

  • English (source language)
  • Asia: Chinese(simplified), Japanese, Korean
  • Europe: German, French, Italian, Spanish

It can be said AAA-rated titles are, in most cases, localized into at least 7 languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, German, French, Italian, and Spanish. Here are some examples: (you can easily look up in Steam for more examples)

  1. <Cyberpunk 2077>, Full Audio Supported in 11 different languages.
  2. <Apex Legends>, Full Audio Supported in 10 different languages. 
  3. <Borderland 3> Full Audio Supported in 8 different languages. 
  4. <Halo 3> Full Audio Supported in 10 different languages. 
[Image 3] In most cases, AAA-rated titles are, localized into at least 7 languages. (Source: Steam)

 

The ‘Rising Star,’ the Language Becoming a Popular Choice

Among the titles mentioned above, you may have noticed a common thing in Cyberpunk 2077 and Apex Legend: They support full audio for Russian and Polish in addition to the main languages. Then, why did they do it? The answer is quite simple: Russia and Poland have the largest and the second largest game revenues in Eastern Europe. Plus, they prefer localized games.

[Image 4] Eastern European Game Sales, Russia ranked first, and Poland the second. (source: Newzoo)

▶ Source Link: https://newzoo.com/insights/articles/newzoos-top-100-countries-by-2015-game-revenues/

 

Which Country Shows High Preference Towards the Game Audio Localization?

We have looked at the languages that need audio localization based on game sales by country so far. Then, what do the gamers think? Although gamers’ preference is the most important factor, it is impossible to converge all their opinions into one. Rather, we will provide our opinion summarizing what we experienced in the field as a localization studio, and our analysis on the users’ feedback.

Which country users welcome when the games support audio in their language, and which users don’t? Or, do Korean users like it, when games are dubbed in Korean? In fact, all kinds of answers can be brought up, depending on personal preferences. Likewise, no one can conclude Korean users do or do not prefer Korean-dubbed games. Nevertheless, as we discussed in one of our previous articles, the number of users preferring dubbed games is definitely increasing. Reflecting such a trend in the localization industry can be an important factor for your decision. (see: “The Wind of Change” Starting from ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ Blows Through the Korean Voice-over Industry below)

[MUSAI] “The Wind of Change” Starting from ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ Blows Through the Korean Voice-over Industry

 

Musai’s Opinion

When selecting languages for localization, it is recommended to select the main languages mentioned earlier, if the budget is sufficient. You may also refer to the top 8-12 languages the AAA-ranked titles selected. Apart from the popular languages, many select Spanish (South American) and Portuguese (Brazilian) additionally. In Taiwan, on the other hand, many users prefer Japanese audio (or voice actors) which is quite interesting. Moreover, it is statistically shown that countries with high illiteracy rates, generally have a higher preference rate towards localization including audio dubbing.

In addition, according to the games targeting specific countries, localization languages may be added. When Korean games are to be launched in the global market, sometimes the local publisher or distributors decide whether to do the audio localization or not. Of course, if the game’s audio localization is decided in the internal business or marketing department, its market analysis (including sales, user preferences, etc.,) conducted in-house would play as the most imported factor. But we do hope this article and the trends we discussed here may help you decide as well.

 

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