In the final part of our Localization over time articles, we’ll look at some things that haven’t changed and some generally interesting localization aspects.
One of the most obvious and odd parts of conducting this research was the noticeably different change in localized text versus localized audio. Generally, there’s no clear trend from 2006 to 2022 of an increase, or a notable decrease, in the number of localized audio languages. These numbers take into consideration games without any specific voice over, as to not skew results with games like RTS’ that don’t have voice at all.
One thing that may be impacting the number of audio languages is the rise of Indie. Many Indie games that have English audio just don’t have the budget to include other languages. Unfortunately, localized voice over can still stress game budgets. Many indies and larger devs would simply rather put that money into the game, marketing, and other aspects of development, rather than including localized audio. It's difficult to argue with a base fact like that. Localized text is often seen as an accessibility issue but, generally, localized audio doesn’t have this same impact. What Localized audio can do is to make the game feel truly local to these regions. In a perfect world I’m sure all these devs would want to include it, but unfortunately that’s currently not quite possible.
Have the Major Localized Languages Changed?
As you might imagine, EFIGS, Polish, and Russian are still all strong languages when it comes to localization support. Russian localization is seeing a decrease at the moment, however it’s somewhat unlikely this support would drop it out of this echelon of generally supported languages.
What is interesting to note is the ubiquity of Brazilian Portuguese, which enjoys huge support but is often forgotten during discussions about localization. Generally, since 2014, BR-PT has been supported on 75% of major titles, highlighting how popular the language has become for localization. The same can’t be said of European Portuguese, which is only supported in a handful of games per year.
Around the same time that Brazilian Portuguese support hugely increased, Latin Spanish also began increasing. Interestingly, Latin Spanish isn’t anywhere near as popular as BR-PT which is surprising when you think about how large the Latin Spanish market can be. It’s quite likely, as with Portuguese, that those localizing often pick one version of a major language. European Spanish is still featured on the vast majority of games. Essentially supported on every game that has localization. So, in many ways, other than the biggest games with localization support, it’s often one or the other when it comes to languages with multiple locales.
Languages Worth Watching
The last thing to consider are languages that have become far more popular on Mobile that can be seen slowly growing into other gaming areas. Turkish is a great example of this. It’s a language that rose hugely in popularity on Mobile games and has steadily been increasing in support since around 2013. On that same note, it could be a similar story for rising mobile languages like Thai and Vietnamese. Neither of these are at the level of support that Turkish sees, but with games becoming more accessible it’s worth considering. It’s especially prescient with the current discussions about cloud gaming and bringing major traditional platform titles to Mobile devices. This increased accessibility from countries with relatively low levels of English fluency could see huge increases in players requiring extended localization support.