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Written by Steven Bussey
on March 20, 2019

Today, gaming is more than a hobby, it is an integral part of the millennial lifestyle. From entertainment to education and adventure, people explore and indulge in online gaming for various purposes. No wonder the sales are soaring and gaming is becoming a culture. This couldn’t be more evident than in Asia, especially in the Southeast Asian gaming industry.

According to market research firm Niko Partners, the number of PC and mobile gamers in Southeast Asia will reach 400 million with an estimated revenue of over $4 billion USD by 2021. Much of this exponential growth originates in Southeast Asia where the head of the charge is a group of nations, nicknamed ‘Big 6’. Comprised of Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam, the Big 6 have maximized growth in the eCommerce and digital gaming sectors. Unsurprisingly so, when you consider that 98% of eSports engagers are currently residing there.

According to Tech Collective, Malaysia is leading the list in terms of revenue, which was $589.4 million USD in 2017. Mobile gaming is responsible for 65% of that total and 35% is from PC gaming. In October 2017, Sea, Singapore’s gaming giant, raised $884 million USD for PC and mobile game production. The company has licensed all of its games in the Southeast Asian market and was the first technology company from the region to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Further emphasizing the popularity of gaming in the region, the Olympic Council of Asia announced in late 2017 that eSports would be considered an official sport at The Asian Games in 2022. In response to this, eSports academies have opened throughout Southeast Asia and China to teach the technique and strategy of eSports to gamers.

Gaming in Southeast Asia is one of the primary uses of mobile devices and they are projected to account for more than half of the 400 million gamers Niko Partners is predicting by 2021. In light of the rapid growth and mobile penetration, localization is becoming a necessary part of game development. Especially important is the transition of games on to different devices that feature better (or worse) hardware specifications and capabilities, affecting performance and graphics as well as potential WiFi and cellular data performance, cost and bandwidth restrictions.

What is Localization?

Localization is the process of customizing games’ cultural context to another specific market. In other words, localization is the process of translating games in accordance to the local context of the region and customizing it for the devices and technology used locally. Thanks to the predicted growth within the Asian gaming industry, the demand for localization and translation is high. Due to the huge demand for gaming in China, historically it was one of the primary consumer markets for foreign games. Now, Chinese game developers and publishers have started to publish titles abroad, as their domestic market is saturated.

Translation is a crucial component of localization. If a game is successfully localized, it invariably builds worldwide reputation and the approval of end-users, leading to increased sales and, subsequently, more profit for developers and publishers.

Go Global, Go Localized

The majority of gamers will always prefer to play games in their native language but it is worth noting that localization is deeper and wider than just translation. Game localization is an incredibly important aspect of pre-release development; this process tailors the game to match its targeted audience by incorporating cultural nuances, accommodating differing content necessities, and applying to censorship laws. Once localized, the game goes right to gamers’ hearts and wins their love.

The primary role of developers is to produce content that is both familiar and acceptable by the regional standards from which their audience hails. Once this has been achieved, gamers from across the globe are able to immerse themselves in the game narrative and connect with it. A connection between the game and the gamer leads, subsequently, to a prosperous relationship between the developer and the user. This results in future transactions and increased capital for the developers.

The Price of Context

The process of localization can be a costly initial outlay, but the long-term profits far exceed the price of the investment. A prime example of this is the Kingdom Hearts (KH) franchise. Initially developed in Japan, KHIII, the most recent release of the series, earned record first-week sales of more than 610,000 units in Japan. After a staggered release, KHIII became available to the rest of the world, soaring sales--including digital and physical--to an incredible 5 million units worldwide in its first week.

Localization is an important stepping stone for companies who plan to capitalize on the incredible growth opportunities in the Asian gaming industry and should, ideally, be a key investment at the very beginning of any new project. Budgets for investing in new projects are often relatively tight, so you will, of course, be looking for the best quality and most cost-effective provider of localization services.

The very best service of this nature can be found with Andovar Game Localization. We are a localization and translation services company for the Asian marketplace. With headquarters in Singapore and offices in Thailand and India, our in-house team provide audio, native-speaking voice talents, as well as competitive pricing. We also provide Multilingual Game Testing, Multimedia Localization Services, and Corporate Localization Services.

Thinking global is thinking local. Gaming is booming in Asia to the degree that the gaming industry is becoming a cultural phenomenon spanning across Asia and the Southeast Asian archipelago. In these conditions, the localization demands are surging like never before. By working closely with professional localization and translation organizations at the inception of game development, developers have better chances of staying ahead in the ever-growing marketplace of Asian gaming.

Click here to get in touch with us today to know more about our services.

For more insights into games localization, visit our Ultimate Guide to Games Translation.

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