So, the recently released Fatal Frame game--which is either “Fatal Frame: Oracle of the Sodden Raven” or “Fatal Frame V: The Black Haired Shrine Maiden” (or “Project Zero V”) depending on who you ask--is believed to be a Japan-only title, even though there are rumors surfacing up that suggest that a Western localization version may be happening.
I had a little chat with my editor-in-chief about this particular matter, and we discussed about why is it so difficult to get localized versions of games from Japan, because some of the games Japan churns out do look kinda interesting, and it just seems that, in this day and age, localization should be even more so of a common occurrence.
Don’t get me wrong, Japan does release localized games (albeit typically after up to several months), such as Pokémon, Animal Crossing and so on, but is there any cause for any country--not just Japan--to release country-exclusive titles in 2014 going on 2015?
As sad and annoying as it may seem, there is more than a few causes to keep a game country-exclusive, even if said game is part of a popular series or franchise. In saying that, I believe localization should be considered if there happens to be enough--and continuous--demand for it.
On that note, I believe that the reasons why more games these days aren’t localized is because there’s demand, funding and development time to consider. If there’s neither of these three, the chances of a game being localized are pretty slim, I reckon. However, you do get those individuals, or groups of individuals, who localize games for both themselves and others, but--from what I’ve observed--they’re usually just top-down 16-bit RPGs.
That doesn’t mean to say that bigger games haven’t been localized before; Xenoblade Chronicles, Monster Hunter, Pokémon and EarthBound are all good examples, but even then Xenoblade Chronicles took a long while to release in North America, and the two other game’s in the EarthBound (or “Mother”) series have yet to be released outside of Japan.
With smaller development studios and publishers, it’s understandable why localization may not be done in time for their game’s release, as it would demand a lot of money to translate each word and sentence to be punctually and grammatically correct in a different language--and that kinda thing would take a long while to do, especially for a small team.
However, for much larger development studios, it’s also understandable why localization may not be considered for a game, because there’s demand and demographic to consider, but it’s kinda less excusable, as larger studios tend to have the funds and the staff power to undergo such an effort.
Even with that, you’d think that localization would be more common amongst developers across the globe. Unfortunately, that just isn’t the case. While both Western and Eastern development studios both do their own localizations, there are games they don’t get localized outside of their own regions. Which is a shame, because they both have interesting games that may benefit if they were given a larger market other than the on restricted to their own region and / or country. There’s also politics to consider, too, as a game’s content may be inappropriate or too sensitive for a given country.
The counterpoint to that is what I’ve been saying earlier: if there isn’t continuously high demand for localization in other countries and / or regions, chances are the game will just stay where it is.
So, regardless of what region and / or country you reside in, if you want a game localized to your language it’s best that you peacefully campaign for such a thing, with the understanding that translating a game will take a lot of time, money and a lot of effort.
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