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Machine Translation for Reach, Human Translation For Revenue

Nimdzi Finger Food is the bite-sized and free to sample insight you need to fuel your decision-making today.

If you want guidance on what kind of content MT is good for and where you should still think about involving good old-fashioned human translation, contact us today to become a Nimdzi Partner.

Do you remember the last time when people were NOT talking about machine translation (MT)? We don't. Wherever you go, there’s someone talking about MT. With few exceptions, it seems like the only major disruptors in our industry over the past few decades have been breakthroughs in language technology.

However, as we discussed in a previous Nimdzi report, the hype is not completely justified, at least not in any way that is clear and apparent. Nimdzi surveyed 33 localization buyers to ask them if they were currently using neural machine translation (NMT) in their organizations. The replies confirmed that NMT is not as widely adopted as one may be led to believe.

Is NMT widely used in your company?

Source: Nimdzi Insights

In this survey, 77.4 percent of buyer-side localization managers responded that NMT is far from being fully adopted within their organizations. What’s more, 33 percent said NMT isn’t being used at all.

This brings us to the next question: are all industries benefiting from MT? It’s been widely discussed that industries such as video games, media, and marketing don’t make much use of MT technology because they usually require more creativity and cultural awareness and sensitivity. And machines don’t seem to be on par with humans yet in this regard.

In the games industry, specifically, there have been a few attempts to include MT in the localization workflow. For example, Electronic Arts (EA) was an early adopter of this technology and has learned how to make the most of it, even in a creative industry. In an article published in the magazine MultiLingual titled “The future is here: Neural machine translation for games,” MT specialist Cristina Anselmi and localization veteran Inés Rubio shared their insightful experience implementing MT in the game localization workflow. In the article, the authors shared a table with the different areas and content types at EA where MT is applied.

Categorization of types of text at Electronic Arts. Source: MultiLingual

As we can see, most of the text categories where raw MT is implemented don’t have a checkmark in the category “Sentiment,” meaning it’s not content that has a direct impact on players’ emotional engagement. Game content and websites do have a direct impact on players’ experience. In these cases, EA uses post-edited machine translation, ensuring the final text is carefully reviewed by a human translator. And on top of that, they use this workflow only for titles with low ROI for specific languages or in low impact locales with low ROI. 

EA has developed a very smart way to use MT to streamline their processes without having a negative impact on the quality of their players’ experience. This system shows that they are extremely mature in the way they understand their content and its impact on their users. But this also supports what we see as a clear mantra for the industry:

Machine translation for reach, human translation for revenue.

EA’s use case is just one example of how MT may be used for locales or products that are perhaps less important for a company at a given time, or even for content that doesn’t have a direct impact on the quality of experience of end users. MT certainly has its uses for customer support or documentation content that is not highly relevant for the actual gamer experience. But, when the revenue of a company is at stake, companies usually prefer to go with human translation, especially in creative industries such as media and game localization.

So when planning to implement MT in your organization, first seek to understand the true importance of the content you’re generating and its impact on your revenue, then design a localization strategy accordingly. If you want to communicate with your customers and engage them, you may still want to use a human instead of a machine, don’t you think?

Nimdzi Finger Food is the bite-sized and free to sample insight you need to fuel your decision-making today.

If you want guidance on what kind of content MT is good for and where you should still think about involving good old-fashioned human translation, contact us today to become a Nimdzi Partner.
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