[Game localization] Overcoming cultural barriers
Greetings, we’re Latis Global Communications, a company dedicated to localize games. We provide the best quality game services to game developers all over the world. We also provide informative content for game developers successfully expand their market abroad.
In the previous article, we talked about game localization and its importance. It is a process of modifying game content to cater to target audience, from text to sound and context.
Today, we’re going to briefly talk about a success story. We’re going to talk about Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, a PC online game from Blizzard and its localization.
# Starcraft 2 and the challenges of full localization
When the original Starcraft came out in 1997, it reshaped the game industry of Korea. This is no exaggeration at all. Before that, there were not many internet cafes, no professional game leagues, and definitely no pro gamers. The game was the cradle of the e-Sports we have today.
The explosive reception of Starcraft in Korea was something unprecedented, and this made Blizzard cater to Korean gamers with more care and interests. When they announced the long-waited sequel to Starcraft, they decided to fully localize the game in Korean.
But something unexpected happened after this announcement. The Starcraft communities were torn into two groups and they hotly debated whether or not Blizzard should fully localize Starcraft II in Korean days after days. It was not something Blizzard expected. Most thought that the Korean fans would give Blizzard full support and kudos.
The problem was in the fact that the original Starcraft, released in English, was a phenomenal hit in Korea. Fans felt at home with unit names and UI in English. Many didn’t want to familiarize themselves to new terms and UI. Some worried about the translation going too liberal.
Others supported full localization, as doing so would lower the language barrier and could bring in more players. They claimed that the awkwardness would soon pass and everyone would be happy.
# Blizzard confronts the issue by communicating with the fans
As Blizzard’s announcement backfired, Blizzard decided to communicate with the fans. What they did was somewhat unconventional. They created an event in which fans could voice their opinion and suggest the translation. It’s very similar to what we call today ‘User translation leveraging collective intelligence.’
In 2010, not far from the release of Starcraft II, the debate subsided. It was because Blizzard made it clear that they will localize the game in Korean and in doing so, they implemented as much as the fans asked them to.
In a poll conducted by Nate in January 2010 (the image below), out of 2,469 participants, about 80% supported Korean localization of the game. This was a huge shift in attitude from when Blizzard first announced the Korean localization.
The quality of Korean voice acting also helped buying fans’ approval. They appreciated seamless and natural voice acting, like the military jokes from Marines and Siege Tanks and many witty comments from other units. They were happy.
The Korean localization of Starcraft II is a prime example of a good localization. It began with scuffles and worries but came back on top with excellent quality.
Did you find this article interesting? In our next article, we will talk about voice recording of games. So stay tuned!
Latis Global Communications is a game localization company who offers quality and professional localization services and supports, including Localization, Voice Recording, and Global CS, for you to successfully launch your games all over the world.
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