How to Localize a Game Video: Tips, Tricks, and a Checklist for Developers

Should you re-capture the gameplay?

  • In different linguistic versions of the game, text blocks can vary in size. If the text blocks expand dynamically depending on the number of words or symbols they contain, their width or height in the localized version can differ from the original. As a result, the recaptured status meter may not cover the entire area of the original, or it may extend beyond its borders, concealing what needs to be visible.
  • If location elements, for example, are visible beneath the text boxes, you’ll have to change the UI in the German build to make the status meters opaque, and cover the semitransparent status meters in the English gameplay with “dummy” status meters from the German version. This is particularly important if the background beneath them changes — for example, as a character moves from a cave entrance to a treasure chest, in each scene different location points will end up beneath the status meters. But this still doesn’t solve the problem of the mismatched status meter sizes.
  • Text areas can collide with animated effects, both those constantly in view and those that appear at various times in the course of the game.
One Life Story game trailer

What if the game itself hasn’t been localized into the language of the target audience?

Videos with no UI: what’s the catch?

Guard of Wonderland VR game trailer
Wild West: Steampunk Alliances game trailer
Pixel Wars game trailer

How to localize voice-overs: three tips

How to synchronize voice-over text with the video sequence

The idea is not to fit the recorded voice-over to the animation, but rather to fit the duration of the animation to that of each narration segment.

100 Doors XL game trailer (in English)
100 Doors XL game trailer (in Russian)

Is video localization always so… complicated?

Localizing a video literally means recreating it in a new language, in the course of which you go through all the same stages of production as when creating the original version of the video.

How much does video localization cost?

Checklist: 8 things to remember when localizing a video

  1. Is the name of the game localized? If so, don’t forget to use the game’s localized name in the video instead of the universal version. It may come up both in the voice-over and in the video sequence. If the game’s name is used in the logo, don’t forget to replace the logo in the localized video.
  2. Is the game itself localized? If so, consider using gameplay in the target language for the video.
  3. Does your gameplay include embedded texts? For example, a location may have inscriptions on shop signs or road signs. If these elements are present, think about how to treat them in the localized video. Remember that the “patching” method, while attractively simple in theory, frequently proves quite the opposite in practice.
  4. Does your video contain text captions or taglines? If so, don’t forget to translate these texts and select a typeface for them that is compatible with the target language.
  5. Does your video contain app store badges? If your game is for a mobile OS, the answer is yes. Don’t forget to replace the original badges with translated versions. You don’t need to translate them yourself: official versions of badges in various languages can be found in the App Store and Google Play guidelines.
  6. Does the original video contain voice-over? If so, don’t forget to translate it and have the translated voice-over read by a native speaker of the target language.
  7. Is your timing strictly limited? For example, the advertising platform may limit the teaser to 15 seconds, or the App Store may have a limit of 30 seconds for trailers. If there are timing restrictions, keep these in mind when translating the voice-over text.
  8. Will you have to change the duration of scenes or re-capture gameplay for the localized version of the video? If so, don’t forget that you may have to reformat the background music and resync the sound effects corresponding to key events in the animation. Because if the actions in the video sequence shift on the timeline, the accompanying “SWISH!” “BAM!” or “SMACK!” will also need to be shifted accordingly.

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