Videogame localization: let’s crunch some numbers

Videogame Localization | Localizzazione dei videogiochi: videogiocatrice

Videogame localization: let’s crunch some numbers



Videogame is a market that has seen a tremendous growth in the last decades and will grow steadily for the foreseeable future.


According to Newzoo, 2.1 billion people play videogames worldwide. Of these, 26,2 million people play videogames just in Italy. A little perspective: a game released in 1996, Crash Bandicoot, cost 1.6 million dollars to develop, while 2013’s Grand Theft Auto V cost 265 million dollars. The latter went and generated 6 billion dollars in revenue, making it the most profitable standalone multimedia product ever. The videogame industry is a 138 billion dollars affair, making it the biggest multimedia industry sector. That’s right, it’s worth more than movies.

Of course, as time went on, videogames became more and more complex and more and more eloquent. This is what matters to us! Space Invaders (1978), had (we’re being generous), ten written words, two of which were the now eponymous “Game Over”. Today, games can reach astonishingly high word-counts. Baldur’s Gate II (2001)’s script is more than 1.000.000 words long. According to Nimdzi, videogame localization is a 330-million-dollar market, projected to grow 30% by 2021. Keywords International and Pole to Win dominate the landscape.

This is just a brief overview of the behemoth that the videogames industry has grown to be in the last decade. All this was necessary to say that the answer to the question “is it worth it to localize my videogame” is – in most cases – a resounding “Yes”. As you can probably guess, bringing your game to as many people as possible can’t be a bad thing.

Videogame localization


As localizable elements in games got more and more prominent, localization rapidly came to be a necessity, to accommodate the larger scope that the videogame medium was striving to achieve. You may think that by now, everyone who is interested in playing videogames would know English. For sure, many people play videogames in English but it has been proven that people prefer to read, hear, watch content in their native language if they can help it. As we said, Italy has 26,2 million gamers. Why not cater to them in the best way possible?

Just above, I said that “in most cases” it is worth to bring your game to as wide an audience as possible. There are cases where a cost-benefit analysis will dictate that no, for such a small pool of players English will have to do. It is very important to gauge whether a market would be receptive to a localized videogame, and nowadays data such as ROI is taken into consideration when deciding to localize a videogame for some markets. What’s certain, though, is that on the whole, the market will grow and there will be many opportunities to gain new players by localizing videogame content: the future is no doubt very bright for videogame localization!

Stay tuned for more snippets of info about the game industry and the vast and marvelous world of videogame localization!

Mirco Carlini

Translator & Post-editor, Unstoppable reader and videogame lover, he loves peaceful hikes in the mountains as well as relaxing and swimming in the sea.

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