Steam: The Dynamic of Games Languages

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With people forced to sit at their homes because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global games market is getting stronger. For example, according to this report:

  • For Week 12 (March 16 - 22) console sales rose by 155 percent with significant gains for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One across the board.
  • In the UK, console sales improved by 126.6 percent during Week 11 and then in Week 12 they rose by 250 percent.
  • In Australia, Week 11 saw sales of games machines increase by 19.6 percent, and then in Week 12 they jumped again by 285.6 percent.

But how exactly is the global market for localized games being changed?

For mobile and PC games per region, you can download quarterly updated key numbers from various sources, such as Newzoo. Newzoo also shares numbers that illustrate the top 10 markets ranked by their estimated revenue.

Games on Steam, the largest PC games distributor in the world, used to focus on FIGS, CJK, and major Slavic languages. In 2019, Nimdzi gathered interactive statistics on the localization of 26,344 games on Steam in order to determine the top 10 most popular languages games on the platform are localized into.

In April 2020, we did this exercise again and filtered a total of 34,815 Steam games to learn that:

  1. 550 of them were localized into 26-29 languages, with 29 being the highest count of languages into which a single game is localized.
  2. 4,248 games were localized into just two languages.
  3. 19,521 games are available in 1 language only.

When compared to the previous year, the top 5 language selection stays the same. In order to go global, game developers and publishers simply cannot ignore the top languages for gaming. But the overall top 10 language situation for games on Steam has changed. For example, the proportion of Russian (which outpaced Spanish) and Simplified Chinese (which outpaced Italian) increased, and Korean pushed Polish out of the top 10. For developers, it is paramount to understand the target market for the game they are developing, as that will likely dictate which languages they will need to consider localizing into.

PC games on Steam are just a drop in the bucket of the overall market. There are more games to play than ever, their numbers growing with each year, and the opportunity for localization is increasing as well.

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

If you want to explore our library of publications on video game localization, contact us today to become a Nimdzi Partner.

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