Like Hollywood studios, video game makers are upping the stakes on global launches of new products — trying to reach more markets more quickly. But to do so successfully requires a signficant investement in product localization.
Video game maker EA announced yesterday that it was opening a game localization center in Singapore for serving the Asian market. This was not a huge surprise as the company announced in its 2005 annual report:
We believe that in order to increase our sales in Asia, we will need to devote significant resources to hire local development talent and expand our infrastructure, most notably, the expansion and creation of studio facilities to develop content locally for each market. In addition, we may establish online game marketing, publishing and distribution functions in China.
EA generated 47% of revenues from outside the US and I expect we’ll see that number surpass 50% by 2007, depending on the success of this center. Game localization is not as simple as localizing a Web site. Many of the violent products that sell well in the US won’t make it past the censors in Asian and European markets. Which means the product itself must be changed.
It will be interesting to see what percentage of localization stays in house and what percentage gets outsourced. Babel Media is one such localization specialist and they’ve done quite well lately.
If you want to learn more, there’s even a book out about video game localization and I interviewed the author, Heather Chandler, about six months ago.