Demand for Localization of Japanese Video Games Grows

Demand for Localization of Japanese Video Games Grows

<em>Traditionally, Japanese video games were only intended for players in the country itself. Now that gamers are broadening their scope, more games make it to the international market. However, as the Japanese culture is very different to that of Europe and the US, localization is in order.</em><br><hr id=”system-readmore” /><br>Japanese video games are not always launched in the Western market. Take for example the game “God Eater 2.”&nbsp; <br><br>In an <a target=”_blank” href=”http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2014/09/27/digital/tricky-path-abroad-japanese-games/#.VCqv7_l_s_Z”>article on the Japan Times</a>, Jason Coskrey explains that this action role-playing game was released in Japan in November last year, but its creator, Bandai Namco Games, had no plans to release the game anywhere other than Japan.<br><br><img style=”margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 15px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left;” alt=”God Eater 2″ src=”images/God_Eater_2.jpg” height=”288″ width=”226″><br><br>This has led to protests from fans all around the world: according to Coskey, the petition <em>“Bring ‘God Eater 2’ to North America and EU”</em> that can be found on <a target=”_blank” href=”http://www.change.org/p/namco-bandai-games-bring-god-eater-2-to-north-america-and-eu”>Change.org</a> has already been signed by over 700 people. &nbsp;<br><br>According to Croskey this wasn’t the only game at the Tokyo Game Show that will remain within the Japanese market. He believes this practice has been common for quite some time now, to the frustration of gamers abroad. <br><br><br>Reasons to refrain from international releases are manifold, Croskey says. At TGS, Tsuyoshi Oka from D3Publisher, for example, stated that <strong>because the Japanese culture is so different from that of the rest of the world, Japanese content sometimes isn’t suitable for foreign gamers.</strong> <br><br>However, Oka does believe the Japanese market is growing. In fact, Croskey points out, D3 has published two previous titles of popular series (“<em>Onechanbara”</em> and “<em>Earth Defence Force</em>”) in the western market. Although the company has no intentions to release the latest versions of these games, that were playable at TGS, in Europe and the US any time soon, Oka predicts that Japanese games will reach increasingly the West. <br><br>
<h3>There’s more to releasing games in another market than shipping disks overseas:&nbsp; language barriers must be overcome as well.</h3>
<br>This can be quite costly for Japanese companies, especially for role-playing games that feature a lot of text. After all, cultural aspects often have to be translated too. <br><br>Croskey gives the example of the game “<em>Ryu ga Gotoku</em>” (or “Yakuza,” as it’s known internationally) that was released by Sega. This game is set in Japan today, which means cultural references have to be localized for players abroad. <br><br>Former game journalist and co-founder of localization company 8-4, John Ricciardi, states that games in the Yakuza series have very large scripts because the number of characters you can interact with is very large and players’ decisions influence the scenario and what characters say. <br><br>Ricciardi claims localizing great amounts of text can cost game makers millions of dollars. This can be a big risk for games that don’t sell that great in the US. However, Ricciardi says this sometimes is a risk worth taking. <br><br>Croskey reveals that gamers’ tastes have changed over the years. This is the reason why dating sims, romance games aimed at women, are now launched internationally by gaming companies such as Voltage Inc. A number of translation companies have jumped on the localization bandwagon: Sunflare, for example as it launched its game-localization service earlier this year. <br><br>Concluding, Croskey believes gamers simply like good games, no matter where they come from. He thinks it would be a great victory for the Japanese gaming industry when Japanese games are launched all over the world. And the industry might soon experience this victory: Ricciardi, for one, believes gamers’ tastes have broadened, meaning most Japanese games will be launched beyond the country’s borders.<br><br>

Emma Tidey
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