17/01/2023 /Category

Unlocking the Power of Game Localization for Mobile Games

Unlocking the Power of Game Localization for Mobile Games

Happy New Year! 

As we kick off the new year, we want to explore an exciting topic that’s been transforming the mobile game industry for a long time now: machine translation.

In this article, we will take an in-depth look at how machine translation is revolutionizing mobile game localization and making mobile games more immersive than ever for players everywhere. With billions of people owning smartphones, anyone with internet or mobile data access can play the latest mobile games in just a few clicks. 

Join us as we uncover the power of machine translation in mobile gaming and how it can make mobile games more immersive in the new year.


Why are Mobile Games so Significant Today?

According to Statista, by this year, there will be 6.92 billion smartphone users in the world. That is 86.41% of the world’s population! From this, it’s safe to say that smartphones are the most accessible platform to play games.

The global gaming market is thriving, and it hasn’t even reached its peak yet. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we witnessed a significant boom in gaming revenues. Based on a study conducted by SensorTower, in the first quarter of 2021, consumer spending reached up to $22 billion, showing 25% growth year after year. That year also showed mobile gaming exceeding  PC gaming by a wide stretch. 

Still not convinced by those numbers? In 2021, according to Newzoo, the global games market generated $175.8 billion. Mobile games were able to generate up to $90.7 billion that year. Newzoo notes that even by next year, mobile revenues will continue to surpass PCs and other gaming platforms.

All this data goes to show how lucrative the mobile gaming market is. Knowing this is very important, especially if you’re a game developer looking to expand in the mobile gaming industry. And with any global expansion, there is a need for localization.

Is it worth investing in machine translation for mobile game localization? Before we answer that question, what is machine translation, anyway?


Machine Translation in a Nutshell

Machine translation is the technology that automatically translates text from one language to another using artificial intelligence. Years ago, machine translation often gave out inaccurate translations and needed a lot of post-editing (AKA revision of the output) from human translators. Nowadays, the current machine translation technology has greatly improved and produces translations that are very close to translations done by humans.

The technological advances in MT has allowed people all over the world to communicate with each other, which helps cross language barriers between them. Machine translation is widely used by companies to communicate more effectively with global clients and stakeholders. It makes expanding easier for businesses since they can translate important documents, large amounts of data, and websites into different languages for global clients and customers. MT is also highly used in commercial e-commerce websites such as eBay & Amazon, online news articles and blogs, websites, and much more.

We’ve just written an article about machine translation on our website. Click here to learn more about its history and how it plays a role in the language service industry today.

While using machine translation in many industries may seem easy, localizing and translating games are trickier than most. The goal of any game is to create an immersive experience, and a big part of that is the dialogue, storyline, and in-game text. It’s difficult to maintain the same level of immersion when translating these things via a machine, as they need to sound natural in any language. This makes it harder for machine translation to find success in the gaming industry.


Game Localization in Video Games: A Rocky Relationship

So what’s so challenging about translating games with machine translation?


Translating games is a much more challenging task since the whole process of making games involves a lot of creativity. Translating an entire game by human translators is the best option, but can be very costly. Yet machines aren’t programmed to be creative. This is why MT will always lack the creative tone that’s needed to make games immersive.

Tone and Vibe

A part of what makes the game immersive is its tone and vibe. In-game texts, dialogues, and storylines create their own atmosphere from the words that come with it. This is a challenge for MT as machines aren’t programmed to “feel the room,” resulting in some translations sounding out of touch without proper post-editing.

In-Game Texts, Dialogues, and Slang

Creating translations that sound natural is one of the biggest hurdles in localization. Each country and region has its own unique languages and dialects. A deep understanding of the culture is necessary to effectively adapt a translation to it.

Even though a machine learning solution can be trained on a pre-existing database, it can struggle when it has to translate phrases that are very niche to locals. This is where expert translations by native speakers and feedback from the community can be extremely beneficial. Community feedback means getting input from people who are fluent in the target language and can offer insight on the most appropriate wording.  This is why it’s important to have a personal understanding of the language you’re working with, not just the technical parts of it.

Although there are difficulties with localizing games, using machine translation can still produce pretty good results. Additionally, there are several benefits to using this technology, making it a great option for certain tasks.


Benefits of Using Machine Translation for Game Localization


The biggest benefit of machine translation is probably how fast it works. The machine can translate large chunks of data in minutes, something human translators can only dream of achieving. Because of this benefit, many companies have both MT and human translators in their arsenal; the machine translates large amounts of text while the human translators post-edit it. This can be really useful for releasing updates and, when paired with human linguists, the MT output can be of significant quality.

Budget Friendly

Machine translation is more affordable than hiring human translators. Game developers can save a lot of money, which frees up more of a budget for experts to work on more complicated tasks.


The output created by machine translation is very consistent. MT’s repetitive phrases when translated always come out the same way, giving your in-game texts cohesive terminology and phrasing when needed.

Translating Out-of-Game Texts

Besides in-game dialogue, there are other things to be translated in a game. This includes instructions, manuals, articles, guides, and marketing copy. Some of these texts don’t require as much creativity since they don’t directly affect how immersive the game will be for play. Fortunately, for the most part, a mistake from one of these materials won’t break the overall quality of the game.

Even though game localization doesn’t seem all that simple, don’t be intimidated by it. There are success stories that show the promises of machine translation and how it can bring great success to your mobile game.

Let’s look at Tencent’s Aras Senyuz’s successful localization strategy for PUBG Mobile.


PUBG Mobile’s Localization Strategy: Hope for Game Localization

In an interview conducted by PocketGamer.Biz last February, Aras Senyuz of Tencent Games discusses how the company successfully localized PUBG Mobile, how mobile esports have become a phenomenon in Turkey, and why localization, local marketing, and social media initiatives matters in growing the PUBG Mobile community.

A quick introduction: Aras Senyuz is the country manager at Tencent, a world-leading internet and technology company that develops innovative products and services to improve the quality of life of people around the world. Tencent Games created some of the world’s most popular games, like PUBG Mobile and Arena of Valor. 

In the interview, he notes that his localization strategy focuses on finding out the needs of the market while emphasizing the priorities of local players to deliver gaming experiences tailored to their preferences and culture. To achieve this, he notes that he actively seeks collaborations and partnerships that will contribute to the sustainable growth of the gaming ecosystem in Turkey. 

When asked what were the key localization challenges for PUBG Mobile, this was his answer: “The biggest challenge is to really understand the local culture. As you know, PUBGM is published in more than 200 markets globally, and we are the top game in many countries. The key for that success is our good localisation, not only in Turkey, but also in other markets. It is not always easy to understand a different culture or language such as Turkey, as we have thousands of years of heritage from both Asia and Europe, but we managed to overcome that and put a good system in place for localisation.”

From the interview, we can see that the secret to PUBG Mobile’s successful localization is constant collaboration with local markets to maintain a good gaming ecosystem for local players. Because of their localization strategy, PUBG Mobile continues to be one of the top battle royale games on mobile. By December 2022, PUBG Mobile had gathered around 1.3 billion downloads while grossing over $9 billion, making it the third highest-grossing mobile game.


Future of Machine Translation in Mobile Games

Overall, it’s very clear that the use of machine translation with human post-editing in localizing mobile games has a bright future. As technology continues to improve, we can definitely expect machine translation to become even more accurate and reliable. This will make MT and MTPE an even more valuable tool for game developers and localization teams. With the unstoppable popularity of mobile games around the world, the need for translations will also increase. This will further drive the development of machine translation technology. So, it’s safe to say that in the future, machine translation will be an essential part of game localization.


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