How Long Does it Take to Localize Video Games?

What factors should you consider when dealing with localization?

How Long Does it Take to Localize Video Games?

Video game localization is the process of adapting a game to suit the preferences and requirements of gamers from different regions of the world. It’s a lot like translating a book except that you're working with an interactive digital product.

Video localization has become a crucial step in game development (if you understand more than one language and you'd like to get into the games industry, check out the many game translation jobs available through Jooble, a job aggregation service). It's worth noting that the time required to localize video games varies. Smaller games might take a few weeks, while extensive, complex ones can take many months.

Factors influencing the timeframe required to localize video games

Game localization is a vital step game developers take to ensure that players from all around the world can understand and enjoy their game. However, the time and investment required to achieve this can vary significantly based on several factors:

Game complexity

A game's complexity can play a significant role in determining the time required to localize it. Games with deep story lines, open worlds, and many interactions may naturally require more time to translate. Also, games that rely heavily on visual storytelling - like Firewatch - may not have much text, but still require careful attention to cultural nuances during localization.

Text volume

The sheer amount of text within the game is, of course, another important factor. Games that involve a lot of dialogue, subtitles, menus, and other in-game text may require more time for translation and integration. RPGs and narrative-driven games, for example, might have extensive text that needs a great deal of translation and localization to ensure players get a comprehensively consistent experience. Bear in mind that localization is distinct from translation; entire scenarios in your game may need to be considered with specific cultural contexts in mind.

Number of languages

Increasing the range of supported languages naturally increases the timeframe for localization. Not only that, but translation efforts could vary between languages (especially when considering the translation requirements between two distinct languages). Some languages will have grammar and writing system rules that are closer, while others will be completeley different. It's worth considering your audience and go to market strategy well in advance so that you can estimate what kind of localization efforts will be required.

Quality assurance

Don't forget that localization work has to go through a QA process (just like every other elements of the game). QA for localization may involve some unique skills and considerations, too (for example, not just checking that the translation is accurate, but that the game's UI can cater for different languages). As well as considering your desired launch markets and rollout strategy in advance, you'll want to build localization requirements into your development and quality assurance budgets as well.

What is the average timeframe to localize video games?

There's no single answer to this question, given the many factors that can vary between individual games. However, it's generally the case that localization can take as little as a few months or as much as a year depending on the scope of the game and its specific localization requirements. Effective localization requires close collaboration between translators, editors, engineers, testers, UX designers and more.


It might be tempting to treat localization as an afterthought, or to only consider text translation requirements. But as the story above illustrates, there are many complex factors related to localization. And remember that a commitment to great localization isn't simply another expense; it's very much an investment in your game that could make a big difference in terms of enhancing your game's success in international markets.

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