GTE Localize

Top 10 Languages for Game Localization

Posted by Chloe G. on May 29, 2022.

The top languages for game localization that you should consider investing in will be revealed in this article.

The global gaming industry is booming, with global game market revenue for 2021 being $178.2 billion and is projected to go up to $196 billion in 2022. To increase your traffic and revenue, expanding your audience to include foreign gamers is the simplest approach. Game localization enables you to overcome language and cultural barriers and deliver excellent products in multiple languages.

So game localization is the way to go, but what are the best languages for game localization to start with? And how many languages should you localize your game into?

Here at game localization company GTE Localize, we will cover these questions and reveal new untapped markets.

The benefits of game localization

languages for game localization 5

There are plenty of obstacles during the localization process, but the benefits will be well worth it. For example, after the game Defender’s Quest was completely localized in 6 languages, sales in non-English speaking countries increased greatly; with sales of the localized Russian version on Steam rising from 5% to more than 11%.

Here are some advantages of localizing your game:

  • Boosting your sales: You gain access to a larger pool of potential customers when you enter a new market. When you customize your game to local users, making them feel that the game is made for them, your sales will surge.
  • Increasing the number of downloads: As sales go up, downloads will also increase, leading your game to become even more popular.
  • Maintaining a competitive advantage: In the crowded game industry, localization is the key to giving you the edge. The more you localize, the better your competitive advantage will be. 
  • Making your consumers feel they are cared for: People prefer to have experiences in their native languages, and gaming is no exception.
  • Improve your app’s ranking in the app store: Getting to a higher rank means more exposure, which leads to additional sales.


Most popular languages for game localization

Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, German, French, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Korean, Russian, and Polish are currently the most popular languages for game translation.

For Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese is the most commonly selected dialect; for Chinese, Simplified Chinese is the most widely used.

However, Indonesian, Thai, Hindi, and Vietnamese are rapidly gaining ground, and given the development potential for the games business in South Asia and the Pacific, we predict these languages to become more popular in the future years.

It’s essential to consider various factors before making any decisions concerning choosing languages for game localization:

  • Which nations are your game genre most popular in?
  • Which is more essential to you at present – Maximum downloads or maximum revenue?
  • Given the amount of text in the game, how many languages can your budget allow?


Top 10 countries for gaming revenue

languages for game localization 2

To begin, consider languages for game localization from the perspective of return on investment (ROI). The following is a list of the top 10 countries for gaming revenue:

#1. China

#2. USA

#3. Japan

#4. South Korea

#5. Germany

#6. UK

#7. France

#8. Canada

#9. Italy

#10. Spain

This list has been consistent for quite a long time, so it’s not surprising that many game makers start with FIGS (French, Italian, German, and Spanish), then add Japanese and Chinese, and occasionally Korean.

Important: When studios say they’re localizing a game into Chinese, they’re typically referring to the Simplified Chinese spoken by the vast majority of mainland Chinese people.

However, traditional Chinese (as used in Hong Kong and Taiwan) is still worth considering, given the strong purchasing power of Taiwanese and Hong Kong gamers: Taiwan is ranked #17 and Hong Kong is ranked #27 in the top 100 profitable game markets list.


Why not concentrate just on the most profitable languages?

Here’s where things get tricky: the more popular a country is, the more competition there is. The United States is known for being a tough market to break into, and while lucrative, Asian nations like Japan or China may not always be the greatest target market for a game’s graphics or genre.

This means that you should go beyond the highly competitive areas and consider emerging regions that may provide you with both great download numbers and a reasonable return. Russia, Australia, India, Mexico, Brazil, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, and Hong Kong are the following nations on the revenue list. And several of these markets also have a lot of downloads, which is worth considering.


Consider the best countries for high download numbers when selecting languages for game localization

The following are the top countries by the number of downloads on the App Store and Google Play:

languages for game localization 4

Source: AppTweak 

Countries like the United States, Brazil, Russia, Vietnam, South Korea, and Turkey appear in both lists. China was not included in the analysis, as Google Play is restricted in this country.


Downloads vs Revenue: Essential elements in choosing languages for game localization

While a high download rate does not always imply a huge profit, big numbers of downloads assist to improve rankings, which in turn produces more organic traffic.

If you want to increase download numbers, you may localize your game into languages like Hindi (for India), Indonesian, and Brazilian Portuguese, and monetize these downloads with ads.

If selling applications or in-app purchases is your goal, you should consider targeting countries such as China, the United States, Japan, South Korea, Germany, and other top-tier countries (remember not to limit yourself to just the top 10).

It’s worth mentioning that some developers have discovered another profitable strategy: focusing on markets that are less popular (the APAC region, Arabic-speaking countries, and smaller European countries).

Since there is a lack of content in their original languages, there is less competition and it is more likely to succeed in these areas. Wachanga’s mobile apps, for example, grew by 10 times and attracted a large number of paying customers by catering to less popular markets.


Game localization on a budget

languages for game localization 3

Localizing screenshots, keywords, and game descriptions for app stores is a common technique for getting started with game localization on a budget.

More statistics on who is installing your app will come from localized screenshots. You could possibly come upon a market that was previously unknown to you. Once you get the data, you’ll be able to see which languages you should fully localize your app into.

One of our clients effectively employs this strategy before investing a lot of money in game localization. Using this method, they discovered that localizing their match 3 game into Italian and Turkish was a profitable investment.

Localizing your screenshots may have a significant influence on your download counts because 70% of people select whether or not to download apps based on screenshots. As screenshots include little text, localizing them into 10-15 languages is both simple and inexpensive.

If you have a PC game, you might want to stick with the top 5-10 languages on Steam. Following English, the top languages for Steam games are:

  • Simplified Chinese (18%)
  • Russian (12%)
  • Spanish (5.5%)
  • German (4%)
  • Brazilian Portuguese (3.5%). 

You may be interested in reading these posts:


Contact GTE Localize for help with languages for game localization

Selecting the appropriate languages for game localization is only the first step in the localization process. There are several problems that you may be unaware of, so if possible, you should partner with a reliable game localization provider.

GTE Localize is an experienced translation & localization company with a focus on the game industry.

languages for game localization 1

We can localize games for any device, genre, or platform in over 100 languages such as Thai translation, Indonesian translation, etc. We use native linguists from all over the world to assure the quality of our localization, especially to ensure that the dialect and written variant are appropriate for the region you will expand. 

We also have all of the latest technologies such as CAT Tools, Localization Management Platforms, QA Tools, Self-built ERP, etc. to smooth out our workflow, boost productivity and accuracy, and save money for our clients. The games that we have localized are popular with a large number of gamers.

You can see more of our case study here.

Check out our game translation & localization services and contact us to estimate the cost of your game localization project!