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Your Ultimate Guide to Japanese Game Localization in 2024

Posted by Chloe G. on March 13, 2023.

Japan, the third-largest game industry behind the U.S and China, is a promising landscape for any game company. And you can enter the Japanese market fast and efficiently if you prepare a solid Japanese game localization strategy.

Today’s blog post will introduce an ultimate guide to localize your game successfully in Japan 2024.

Reasons to Translate Your Game into Japanese

Japan is an unmissable market for localization, especially for any game company. Almost 80% of game players buy items or goods for their games. Mobile games gain the most revenue in the industry. Japanese gamers take the number one spot for the most game spending in the world with an annual of $371 per gamer. 

Moreover, both IOS and Android have a strong position in the Japanese market. Japanese players pay a lot of money for mobile games on IOS and Google App Store, holding 40% of the game industry.


The Top Game Genres in the Japanese Market


Japanese gamers tend to play games on mobile and IOS platforms.

Battle royale, hypercasual, puzzles, and action games are mobile devices’ most popular and downloaded game genres. Battle royale is the leading game genre with continuously growing popularity for revenue. 

Behind the battle royale, some game genres such as Match3, MMO strategy, and action games also create considerable revenue.

When it comes to favorite games, Japanese players focus on and spend a lot of money on their hobbies.

To have a successful Japanese game localization, it is a must to invest in mobile games.


Important Ways To Localize Your Game In the Japanese Market

In 2024, don’t just translate your game content into Japanese. It will be best if you localize your games for Japanese fans. 

Japan is a unique Asian country with various cultures and specialtiesIt is a must to consider numerous factors, including Japanese time, date formats, text segments, etc. 

It is noticeable that Japan has four writing systems, including Kanji, Hiragana, Katakana, and Romaji, and two computer input methods that may confuse you.  

For example, 消しゴム (Rōmaji: keshigomu), which means “eraser,” is written in kanji, hiragana, and two katakana characters. It is complicated for any foreign investors.

For more tips on Japanese game localization or for other projects in other Asian languages, don’t hesitate to download our free White Paper “Insightful Tips for Localization into Asian Languages”Our detailed resource with 56 pages will assist you in any upcoming Asian expanding plan.


9 Vital Tips For Your Japanese Game Localization In 2024


#1. Be careful with your tone of voice

Japan has many politeness levels, which causes confusion for foreigners. People have numerous ways to express themselves based on social status and relationships.  

On the other hand, the English source language is typically casual, making a direct translation for the Japanese market infeasible because the text would be too abrupt. In Japanese, an imperative form is overly assertive and may convey the wrong impression.

As a result, the use of personal pronouns in Japanese varies depending on the situation in which the person is speaking and the attributes to possess (like masculinity, power, confidence, intimidation, etc.). In official and casual settings, “I” and “me” will sound different. On their online pages, people even state their preferred pronouns.

#2. Japanese game localization relates to gender

When translating into Japanese, the text must be prepared in advance. To translate correctly into Japanese, strict gender-related guidelines are required.

Otherwise, a male character will speak in a female tone, and a female character will speak in a male voice. This makes the game uninteresting to play in Japanese.

#3. Notice transliteration and strings

Japanese strings are often shorter than English strings, but their transliteration length is longer, which might cause complications in mobile game localization. Regarding Japanese game localization, transliteration is rather popular.

#4. Make use of placeholders

The order in Japanese is “Subject + Object + Verb,” yet this is not the case in English. In English, a statement like “I games play” may seem strange, yet it is the correct order in Japanese. Put a placeholder in the source text to improve the translations.

#5. Don’t forget English UI

Japan has a low level of English proficiency. Despite this, Japanese gamers accept English interfaces since they are visually appealing. Consult your loc manager to see if complete interface localization is required.

Don’t translate everything.

Local players are familiar with English titles and phrases because English is essential to Japanese gaming culture. Furthermore, gamers EXPECT to see English in games, so a game with no English may appear strange. Menus, UX text, and specific messages to gamers are all in English.

#6. Avoid controversial topics in Japanese game localization

In Japanese video game culture, some issues will be met with hostility.

Don’t promote any religions, cigarette goods, or narcotics in your game. Also, double-check that any cultural features or ideas you include are Japanese, not Chinese (since they are frequently confused with Chinese culture, which Japanese gamers will not tolerate).

#7. Pay attention to symbols and colors

In Japan, symbols and colors have significant meanings. Four (4) is a number that sounds like “death,” and four items in a bundle are negative. “W” is frequently used to refer to doubled items, but it can also imply “laugh”, especially in online communication and live shows: “wwwwwww”.

Japanese gamers value the quality of in-game graphics as much as the storyline. Female viewers like detailed images in pale, soft manga-style colors.

#8. Remove violence in Japanese game localization 

Because of media criticism, Japan’s video game industry is self-regulatory. Although games are rarely prohibited in Japan, titles containing several scenes of excessive violence have been modified. There are two essential standards to remember: Gamers should not play as killers or torturers; children and innocent people should not be killed.

#9. Make a list of references for the Japanese translators

The more remarkable the number, the better. Even a simple sentence can be interpreted in a hundred different ways. It’s critical to have a game CMS like Gridly where translators may directly ask queries, dramatically enhancing Japanese game localization quality.

Singular errors, translated idioms, and shortened text are common game translation errors that irritate Japanese gamers. Always proofread your content or, better yet, order translation quality assurance, which allows translators to play the game and identify any additional VO or dubbing issues.

The key to succeeding in the Japanese market is perfection; if the product, app, or game isn’t great, neither is the person trying to sell it. This is something that companies that professionally localize English games for Japan are well aware of.


Is It Necessary to Localize Your Game into Japanese?

If your game is fit for the Japanese market, you might not want to miss out on the world’s third-largest market.

GTE Localize, a professional translation & localization company specializing in the game industry, can support you in this process. With various native and skilled translators, we will bring fast, accurate, and cost-saving Japanese translation services for you. See more of our case study here.


Contact us to have the best quote and the most useful solutions for your Japanese game localization project.