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Why the gaming boom is fueling localization demand

Many older gamers remember the video game crash of 1983, which caused a major recession in North America’s games industry due to market saturation. Unsurprisingly, many fear that the overwhelming amount of games launched nowadays on various digital storefronts will cause another crash. But does this alarmist assumption hold water? Well, considering that both mobile and PC gaming have been trending upward resulting in a new gaming boom, we feel that such speculation is unfounded.

With industry reports predicting the global games market will grow between 6.0 – 6.5% by 2020, this will undoubtedly affect localizations. It’s definitely an exciting time for the industry, that’s why we’ll uncover the reasons fueling localization demand below.

The Rise Of Online Gaming
One would think that localizations work best with story-heavy games such as adventures and RPGs. To a certain extent, that’s true, but we should be mindful that these are usually single-player experiences, which are gradually losing favor with gamers. Higher bandwidths and speeds have made online gaming more accessible globally, and large publishers are pushing ‘Games-as-service’ titles to the detriment of single-player games.

The genres that have truly captured the hearts, minds, and wallets of gamers everywhere are MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena), MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online), and the MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Role-playing Game). Since a global audience plays these types of games, the demand for quality localizations has been huge in recent years.

China Is An Important Market
While gamers emerge from just about every country imaginable, there’s one country that’s having a significant impact in the gaming industry – and that’s China. As the world’s second largest economy with a burgeoning middle class, China also boasts a fervent fan base for the MOBA, League of Legends. With over 110 million registered accounts, this inevitably makes China the largest market in the world for this popular franchise.

Chinese users are also a growing portion of the leading PC games digital storefront – Steam. A recent Steam hardware and software survey has shown an increase in Simplified Chinese and the use of the service across Asian cyber cafes. Valve understands the importance of this booming market, and plans to launch Steam officially that will make their massive catalog of games available to Chinese users.

AR & VR Present New Localization Opportunities
AR (Augmented Reality) and Virtual Reality (Virtual Reality) technologies and headsets have become more popular in recent years. They may not have reached critical mass in terms of user adoption, but they’re certainly becoming more mainstream by the day. Even widely used game engines such as Unity and Unreal Engine feature robust AR & VR features and tooling, which is a clear indication of where gaming is heading over the next decade.

Nonetheless, these technologies bring along their own unique challenges and quirks, especially for localization teams. At times, developers wish to replicate a real-world look and feel in their projects, thus, having floating text on the screen just won’t cut it. Instead, it’s better to forego text in favor of voice-overs and body-language cues for a more coherent experience.

AR & VR studios together with their localization teams still have plenty of growing pains to undergo before they’re able to bring their work to the same level as on other hardware platforms. If anything, the lessons learned localizing mobile games and dealing with the diverse range of phone screen sizes might come in handy with AR & VR projects.

The Bottom Line
The games industry rose like a phoenix a few years after the crash of ’83, and due to its global reach has impacted the lives of gamers in their billions. The growing popularity of online games, the rise of China, and the new opportunities that AR & VR bring to the table are increasing demand for localizations like never before. Do the market segments discussed above align with your own project? Feel free to get in touch with us for any assistance.

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