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popular languages in game localizations

Game localizations are developing very fast on the whole world. It’s worth to mention, that Poland is one of the biggest computer games manufacturer in the world. What comes with it, is that in Poland, we have rising number of game localizations. We know little bit of something about this, because under brand of we are one of the liders in the game localization industry. What languages are popular? We decided to research which countries and continents are leading in the race for computer games industry, and what to langauges games are translated to most commonly. We are sharing our results of research to which languages are worth to have computer games translated to.

According to Steam, in 2022, language that came out as mostly used in computer games, is without any surprises – English. On second place we have Chinese (simplified) and on third place is Russian. That would be pretty much it, when it comes to most popular languages to which games translates to. This list is not very surprising, but it’s totally different matter, if we look deeper into statistics about continents and markets to which game localizations are realized.

popularne języki lokalizacja gier komputerowych
Popular languages in game localizations.

Translating games and most used languages

According to Newzoo report, on computer games market the biggest contender is Asia (above 1.5 billion players), with incredible result of 55% of total involvment. It doesn’t mean that translations are realized in 55% to Asian languages, because many of Asian players are forced to play their favourite games in the English. It’s clear signal for game producers to which markets game localization is profitable, because sales potential is counted in billions of players.

Appalling is fact that second place has only 15% of total involvement in market (nearly half billion players) and this places belongs to Africa and countries of Middle East, which may come surprising to many. In those countries we includes, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. Europe (more than 400 thousands of players), is what mostly people would think as a second place, is on third one instead, with result of 13% of involvement.

Asia leader in game localization?

Let’s start with biggest market that is undoubtly Asia, during game localization and process of choosing languages to which product will be translated, we have to deal with many languages. However, consumers on that market, use mostly three languages. Those are Chinese (simplified), Chinese traditional (Taiwan) and Chinese traditional (Hong Kong). Those languages are used for translation of texts in games, such as quests and items.

During translation of dialogues between characters or voices of NPCs,  game localization goes one step further, and sets for Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese. Fact that language of text is different from spoken one, can be little confusing but there’s a good explentaion for this. It’s very simple, but not so obvious, but written language is different from spoken lanugage in dialect. Around 70% of Chinese can speak in the Mandarin Chinese, and second mostly used spoken language is Cantonese. 

popularne języki lokalizacja gier komputerowych
Game localization on specific markets

African market undervaluated

In regions of Africa and Middle East most used languages are: Arabic, Turkish, Persian, Hebrew and Urdu. On Polish computer games market, localization games to Middle East usually is limited to Turkish. With one hand we can count cases when games were translated to Arabic. Rest of languages are omitted for time being. This region is very valuable, and is great field for people doing game localizations. Mobile game market that includes all games and apps for phones, in this region is having biggest successes. 

World market is dominated in 26% by Africa and Middle East countries. The market itself can verify how good game localizations are. Region commonly called MENA, is not kind to people responsible for those. Without a doubt it’s one of the hardest regions when it comes to game localizations, due to all cultural differences or slangs that is used on day to day basis in that region of the world. During game localazing people needs to pay mind to cultural or traditional elements that may be inappropriate for people that will play game. For example, motif of Christmas in the Saudi Arabia may be received very badly, in opposite to Poland where it will be very welcome if action of games are set in the winter season.

Europe - rich in different languages

Moving onto European region, game localization is good area for people doing game localizations. So many languages in Europe are caused by immigrant population, and the fact that European market is very fair towards players in chosen markets. Most popular languages are; German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Russian, Italian or Polish. English can’t be forgotten in this list, because it is avaible in almost every single game we will find on the European market.

European region stands out due to reason, that in every language we can transale full dialouge lines to the chosen languages. It’s worth to mention, that bigger number of games is localized to the languages such as Japanese, Chinese simplified or Korean. Europe is known for very not many culture limitations, when it comes to game localizations. There is not many topics that are omitted or hidden by developers in this region. Europe sets high standard for freedom of speech in games. 

Popular languages in localizing games

Some languages that were shown in this article can be very surprising for our readers, but it sure is positive surprise not negative one. Multiplicity of languages is proof that developers are hearing out what their community wants, and tries to answers those demands the best way they can. Process of game localizing itself, in so many games is not only based on translating dialouge lines or item names, but also to adapting content to the target region, while keeping in mind cultural or traditional changes that comes with game localization. When game is localized well, customers gets to play game with highest quality atmosphere bring, and it allows them to identify with plot and world that they see on the screen.