Why is Localization Still a Dirty Word?
New Super Mario Bros. 2

We live in a worldwide world. Where one things were only connected as far as you or your horse could walk, now we have massive ships, jet planes, and the internet. All things have been made possible with the Internet. You can turn the lights on in your house from the other side of the world. You can make friends and talk face-to-face with people you never thought you could possibly reach. One of the best parts for us gamers is the ability to play games that previously would have been completely unattainable. No, I'm not talking about that awesome Japanese games that you love and play without even knowing what anyone is saying. I'm talking about fully localized versions of such games.

We have the ability to enjoy games from all around the world thanks to the connected age that we live in. The Internet has allowed game developers, even small ones, to connect with the necessary people to make localized versions of their game. If your game is developed in Japan, you can bet it'll get an English localization that will travel to places like the U.K., the U.S., Australia, and everywhere else that is predominantly English speaking. Other popular regions for localization would be China, Germany, Korea, France, Italy, and Spain. With all of these popular locations for video games, you'd think a sort of system would have been worked out by now to get games to them all with similar time frames.


That's what you would think, but it doesn't seem to be the case. There are many instances of certain games, systems, and even bundles not getting near simultaneous releases. Recently it was announced that a New Super Mario Bros. 2 2DS bundle would be coming to the United States. What most people interested in buying that don't know is that this bundle has already made the rounds. The New Super Mario Bros. 2 2DS bundle is hitting American shelves three years after it was available in Europe. Why? There shouldn't be that much extra work that needs to be done between the European bundle and the American one. Why couldn't they just release around the same time?

The type of release gaps that maks the most sense are those that involve language translation and cultural localization. A lot of games are released in Japan that the rest of the world wants to play, but they have to not only translate the language, but also the customs and jokes that might not be familiar. This does take a lot of work and time. Generally it's done after a game has completed its developmental process or near the end of it, which explains the delay.

New Super Mario Bros. 2

With the global world that we live in, game developers should really consider starting this process earlier too. Have translators and localizers work with your development team throughout the entire process! If they are working with you from the very beginning or near the beginning, there will be a much smaller delay. There are so very many people in the world and a great multitude of them want to work in the video game industry. By starting translation and localization early, you'll be giving those people jobs that they wouldn't otherwise have. 

It's really well and truly a win-win situation. The world enjoys a little more togetherness by relishing in video game releases simultaneously, and many people are employed earlier than they would be otherwise. There's really no reason in this age of connectivity that this shouldn't or couldn't happen. Companies would see just as much success as they already do by releasing games in multiple countries at the same time. Plus, there would be far less disdain from fans who don't understand why their favorite Japanese game hasn't come to their country. Rather than cries of, “Give us an English version of such and such game!” developers would hear, “I love your game and can't wait to see what you do next!”

What do you think? Should the video game industry focus more on getting localizations finished earlier? Or are you content with waiting (sometimes) years for an awesome game or bundle to reach your local stores? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

April Marie
April Marie

Contributing Writer
Date: 08/04/2017

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