The mobile game market is mind-blowing. The gamers spent about $116 billion in 2021 on mobile game experience: 16 billion more than in 2020.
It’s evident that gamers do not locate in one country, and they speak various languages and have different cultural codes. Thus, to create a global game, you need to consider localization services when developing your potential bestseller game.
However, localizing the game is not your final task. How will you understand that the translators did a professional job and that your game sounds native to your foreign players? Here is why game localization testing is needed.
Let’s look at the main game localization testing challenges and the things to remember to make game localization testing work well.
What Is Game Localization Testing?
In general, localization testing or quality assurance is a process of checking the translation quality and UI/UX evaluation, culturalization and internationalization, and functional tests of the product. Game localization testing includes:
- Checking in-game dialogues.
- Game elements for cultural correspondence.
- Adjusting the UI/UX to ensure it displays correctly in various locales.
Usually, testing is the last stage in the localization process. However, it’s an essential step without which it’s not recommended to release a game on the new foreign markets. Native speaking linguists should review the game and ensure no linguistic and visual problems.
Here are five essential pillars of game localization testing if you want to make your game top-notch.
1. The Context Is the King
One of the main challenges in game localization is giving translators the full context. Therefore, the team needs to have glossaries and context for your game regarding localization testing. To translate it correctly, they need to understand what the game is about, the buttons, and why characters were given these particular names.
Context is the main thing to check during game localization testing. If the context is missing, some funny situations may occur. For example, the button ‘MISS’ risks being translated into Spanish as ‘Senorita’ if the translators are unaware that it was just an indicator of failing.
Another example is the Pokemon names. Yes, the name “Pound” might mean the unit of measurement. But it also might point to hitting or striking something. Without the context, the localizators will simply translate it as “Libbra” in Italian, corresponding with the weight unit. However, after the context became clear and the translators understood why the Pokemon was named like this, they changed the Italian name to “Botta”, which means “hit” or “smack”.
2. Watch Out Functionality
Functionality testing checks whether your game is acting following predetermined requirements. Impaired functionality might ruin all user experience. During functionality testing, you’ll check whether your graphic elements behave as they are meant to be.
To avoid most functionality bugs, you need to code using Unicode so all the special characters in other languages are displayed correctly.
Also, it’s essential to check audio material in foreign languages so that the subtitles are shown in the right way for the corresponding language and the audio corresponds to the video.
Also, it would help if you considered that, for instance, German words are, on average, longer than English words. Thus, you need to check that the foreign text is not overlapping with a picture or some game elements.
3. Localized Messages About Bugs
Even if you have a perfect development team, you will still have some bugs from time to time. And it would be nice if the users from various countries understand that something is wrong and see a message about what is going on, instead of having a black screen or the app that unexpectedly shuts down.
We recommend localizing the generic messages about the maintenance break information to assure people that you are already working on this problem. Even if you have some crashes, make them user-friendly! It’s cheaper to invest in localizing the phrase “the servers are under maintenance” than to lose your new foreign gamers.
4. Use Your Local Community
There are many ways to make localization sound native. However, one underestimated way is to talk to your community or just game community on social media.
Of course, professional localization services will help you with translating the game. However, the local community might be a great additional source of testing. They know the slang and some specific words used in games. Moreover, you have a chance to boost your game’s loyalty and create your local community.
Your gamers can help you to test the game and give you a hint if you don’t sound local enough. Let your community create great games together with you!
5. Localize Game Elements
Sometimes you need not only to translate the texts in the game — the game elements need to be changed.
For example, China is quite a restrictive market. According to new rules, Mahjong and poker, titles based on China’s imperial past, and games that feature blood or corpses are forbidden there. Thus, if you have some blood elements in your game and plan to enter the Chinese market, you need to delete them or replace them with something else.
We recommend testing your game for such cultural differences before releasing a game for new markets, as you risk having it banned.
Instead of a Conclusion…
Game localization testing is the last stage of the localization process, and it’s as essential as any other stage of creating a successful game. Game testing is, in fact, a never-ending cycle: you need to test your game and all your localization versions every time you add anything new to it.
If you want people to remember your game because of its incredible plot and visual graphics, not because of some embarrassing localization and translation mistakes, think about investing more energy, resources, and time in localization testing.