It is a question a lot of developers ask themselves when they are about to release their games/apps or when they are tying to improve the global sales of their released products : Is it worth localizing our app in language X or Y? Will it really improve sales enough to justify the investment? Don’t users from all over the world have a basic understanding of English?
Localization offers too many advantages to compile them all in the list, but they essentially fall under the below categories:
- You can reach a broader audience: About two thirds of iPhone/Android users are not English native speakers, and many will prefer not to spend their money on games and applications they may not be able to understand. Various studies show localization can result in dramatic improvements in download numbers
- More visibility on application stores: The simple fact of having localized keywords and descriptions for your applications can be enough to make them more noticeable when people search applications using certain keywords
- Better reputation and word-of-mouth: Users will be happy to have your app in their native language and will be more likely to spread the word about it. Localizing your app in several languages also shows that you are serious about your business. If you release several games a year or that you games have sequels, it is a very good way to build a community around your brand. It will also encourage review sites/magazines to have a look at your app
Now let’s see the arguments of developers that choose not to localize their applications:
- “Some people in Japan/China/France have bought my game although it doesn’t have a localized version these markets”: As I mentioned above, these users are a minority. If your product is already selling in foreign markets, its localized version may very well become a hit.
- “Localization is too expensive for me”
Investing in localization may sound hazardous to many, but the truth is that you can localize your applications, at least to some extent, without spending a fortune in most cases.
If your game is rather light on texts (puzzle-games for example), say, one or two thousands words at most, localization won’t cost you more than a few hundred dollars. If this amount still sounds big to you, you can start localizing in one language to start with and see the results for yourself before deciding what to do next.
If you are working on an adventure game, though, you will most likely have large amounts of texts to translate, and costs can indeed become high if you are a small developer. If understanding the in-game texts is not absolutely vital (i.e. the player can still enjoy the game despite not understanding all dialogs), I would recommend to simply localize the game description/keywords and to create a localized help/get started file. With this solution, people from different markets will still be able to find and play your game, and you will save on localization costs. If you are new to cost-optimization for localized applications, here are a few tips to help you get started.
If you are still unsure about whether localizing your app or game into French would be enough to boost sales, contact me now and let’s talk about it.