What Languages to Localize Your PC Game Into
PC games are among the simplest to publish owing to the lack of submissions and certifications needed. However, if you want your game to be available in more than one language, there’s still a lot of work and research to do!
We’ve done the research so you don’t have to. Here is what you should consider when deciding which language to localize your PC game into.
This post is part 2 of a 3-post series on where to localize your game! Read Part 1 if you are developing a mobile game, and stay tuned for part 3, in which we will cover how to choose which languages to localize your console game into.
Top languages to localize your PC game into
Keep in mind that this list depends on the game genre you’re developing for, your development budget, and the time you want to invest in collaborating with a localization team.
Yes, English is at the top of this list. If you are already developing your indie game in English, great! You can skip this section.
However, if you are developing your PC game in another language first, then choosing to localize into English is a no-brainer.
English-speaking countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada make up a large slice of the revenue pie when it comes to worldwide revenues. Together, they will generate an estimated $49.416 million in revenue this year.
In comparison, the top country in terms of gaming revenue is China (which we’ll cover soon), at $40.854 million. This means that the top three English-speaking countries make more than the top market.
And that doesn’t even take other English speakers into account! By adding English to your roster of languages, your game will be playable by many gamers whose second language is English, especially when you decide not to localize for their first language.
In the United States, the most popular gaming genre currently is action games.
Despite English taking up a large portion of the global gaming market, China, by itself, is number one when you compare countries by themselves.
For context, number two is the United States!
In 2018, there were 619.5 million players in China. Although mobile devices are still the top gaming platform, as we covered in Part 1 of this series, don’t be too quick to discount PC games for this region! In fact, 68% of men and 53% of women who consider themselves gamers in China also play on PC, so that still leaves you with a sizable amount of potential players.
Did you know that more than a third of people use their PC to play games in France? On top of that, a huge portion of France’s population plays games regularly - 90% of teens aged from 10 to 14, 80% from 35 to 44, and plenty in between, too.
This means that localizing your PC game into French is a good idea. However, it’s important to note that different variants of French exist, two of the most popular being FR_fr - the version spoken in France and many parts of Europe - and FR_ca - the version spoken by French Canadians.
Although there are PC gamers amidst French Canadian ranks, their population is tiny compared to the number of gamers in France. So if you decide to translate using Canadian French lingo, you risk losing the interest of your European French players.
If you’re still not sure which variant to choose, or whether you should opt to localize for both, we cover this in more detail here.
The Russian PC gaming market is huge!
In fact, in terms of PC gaming, it is arguably one of the top markets in the world. Almost all Russian gamers - 98% - play on PCs.
In total, there are about 46.4 million Russian gamers. Of this pool, 56% of them spend money on games. So not only does the Russian market provide many players, they are profitable players on top of that!
But that’s not all. Russia has a high internet penetration of 62%, making it easier for you to offer online features, DLC, and more. A higher percentage of the Russian gaming population also considers themselves high-income compared to other countries, as seen below:
In Russia, games like World of Tanks, Solitaire, Pirate Treasures, Counter Strike, The Witcher, and F.I.F.A. are among the most popular, which is a good indication of what genres are working well right now.
The Spanish-speaking gaming population is even larger than Russia’s, at a whopping 140 million, and the most popular platforms are PCs and consoles!
However, these numbers don’t cover all Spanish speakers - they merely represent Spain. Spanish is considered the official language of 20 countries, but it is spoken in many other countries as well. In total, there are 450 million native Spanish speakers across the world!
Keep in mind that Spanish is similar to French, in that European and Latin America don’t have the same variations of the language. For your PC game, European Spanish is a safe bet, but if you are interested in localizing for other countries, we’d suggest looking into the gaming population of these countries before taking the leap.
Currently, the most popular gaming genres in Spain revolve around action games such as platformers and fighting games.
Germany is the 5th biggest country on Steam, making it a great choice for PC game localization.
The country is also responsible for the biggest gaming revenue across Europe! In total, 45% of men and 33% of women play PC games in Germany.
However, do keep in mind that Germany has a high level of English proficiency. This means that many German players will be able to play your game if you localize for English (or if your game is originally developed in English).
This doesn’t mean localizing for Germany is a waste of time. German players still prefer to play games in their native language. But if you have a smaller budget and must choose between German or another language in this list, you may want to keep English proficiency in mind!
Just like Spanish gamers, German players prefer action games, platformers and fighting games.
Brazil is a great example of a country you should prioritize compared to Germany when it comes to English proficiency. If you believe your game would do well in Brazil AND Germany, but can only afford to localize into one language, go for Brazilian Portuguese.
That’s because Brazilian players place a lot of value on high-quality localizations when choosing which games to invest in.
Although the mobile market overtook the PC market in gaming recently, Brazilian PC players still take up a large piece of the gaming pie. If you take a look at global Steam traffic, 2.9% of all traffic comes from Brazil. If that seems small, bear in mind that Steam has over a billion users.
Last but not least, you should consider Polish in your list of potential localization choices! The Polish gaming industry for PCs is currently rising, with a value of $664 million in 2019.
Additionally, 76% of Polish internet users play games!
In 2019, Steam was the most popular gaming platform, with 40% of gamers choosing to use it to play video games.
Polish players love playing racing games, games that involve logic, and board games.
Earlier is always better to start localization
If you make the choice to localize your indie PC game to a second, third, or fourth language, or beyond, it’s important not to consider localization as an afterthought of development!
Of course, if your game is already fully developed and you now want to localize, there’s not much you can do about it. But if you are still early in development, it’s never too late to bring in a localization team. The earlier, the better!
Including a localization team during development will help make the process smoother for both you and your translators. This is true for all languages.
Got a PC project in mind you need to localize? Get in touch with us to discuss your PC game's localization!