User-Generated Content For Player Support in the Gaming Industry

25 May 2021
 
User-generated-content

Report written by Belén Agulló García.

Table of Contents

  1. Project overview and highlights
  2. Methodology
  3. The gaming industry
    1. Global revenues, distribution & segmentation
    2. Growth factors
      1. The advent of 5G
      2. The impact of COVID in the gaming industry and its effect on player support
    3. Language services spend in the gaming industry
  4. LSPs, CRM, and enhanced MT solutions for customer service in the gaming sector
    1. Language service providers
    2. Customer support companies
  5. User-generated content in the gaming industry
  6. Market-sizing data and results
    1. Our market-sizing analysis
    2. Results from the survey
    3. Insights
  7. Final considerations

Project overview and highlights

The gaming industry accounts for 26% of total revenue in the media industry (which includes pay TV, box office, OTT services, and games), and it is projected to increase to USD 196 billion by 2022 (from USD 152 billion currently). The geographical distribution of current revenues gives us an idea of where the gamer base is located. Asia-Pacific is the biggest market, representing 47% of total revenues, followed by North America (26%), Europe, Middle East and Africa (23%), and Latin America (4%). Traditionally, games have been primarily developed in English or in Japanese since the United States and Japan are the main game exporters. 

However, international sales represent an average of 45% for gaming companies, highlighting the key role that localization plays in this industry.

Pre-sales operations usually have a higher localization budget compared to post-sales operations (such as player support). In the post-sales scenario, some companies may look for solutions that help them reduce localization costs, such as enhanced machine translation (MT) solutions for customer service. 

The purpose of this report is to provide a comprehensive picture of the total addressable market (TAM) for multilingual user-generated content for player support in the gaming industry.

In order to provide this data, Nimdzi Insights has carried out comprehensive market research, explained in the methodology section and developed throughout the rest of the document. The main highlights of this study are:

Nimdzi estimates the current size of market for the localization of user-generated content (UGC) in the player support area between USD 100 and 180 million.

  • With a growth rate of 10%, we estimate the TAM between USD 161 and 289 million by 2024.
  • The mobile industry is growing at a faster rate compared to other gaming platforms, and is an interesting segment to consider.
  • Asia-Pacific is the geographic region with the highest revenues in 2019, so MT language combinations including Asian languages may be interesting for gaming companies.
  • 5G may have a lasting impact on the gaming industry, enabling new and exciting developments such as cloud gaming, virtual reality, and augmented reality. But this technology may also expand the gamer base in the medium term, providing fast internet connection for rural and developing areas such as India and countries in Africa. If that’s the case, MT could be used to cover new languages where there is a lack of human resources. 
  • The COVID crisis is having an immediate impact on the gaming industry, resulting in more active players at the moment. However, the lasting impact of the crisis is still to be determined.
  • Other interesting user-generated content for localization in the gaming industry might be player feedback on social media and the replies to that feedback; player-generated tutorials, game-related information, and wikis; and video live streaming gameplays or sessions.

Methodology

For this market-sizing study, Nimdzi Insights combined top-down and bottom-up approaches in order to validate the obtained data. For the top-down analysis, Nimdzi analyzed more than 40 gaming companies to understand the size of the current market. This initial market analysis was complemented by insights from an enterprise survey carried out with a targeted panel of localization decision-makers in the gaming industry over a period of 15 days. Nimdzi Insights prepared 10 targeted questions aimed at uncovering insights related to the current trends in user-generated content localization in the gaming industry, understanding the value it holds for gaming companies, the management of multilingual player support and the role of machine translation in this area, the localization budget specifically addressed to the localization of user-generated content for player support, and the potential impact of the COVID crisis in user-generated content within player support. The resulting sample size is 8 respondents from some of the most relevant gaming companies in the world. The results from the survey, which have been validated by game localization key players as well, have provided solid data to complement the top-down market analysis. Additionally, Nimdzi arranged briefings with localization decision-makers in the gaming industry in order to verify conclusions brought by the quantitative data and complement them with deeper insights into topics that may be of relevance.

The gaming industry

Global revenues, distribution & segmentation

Newzoo estimated that the global games market would generate USD 152 billion in revenue by 2019, a 9.6% increase compared to 2018. With a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) (2018-2022) of +9%, they also estimated that this market will grow to USD 196 billion by 2022. The current geographical distribution of such revenue places Asia-Pacific in first position (see Figure 1). This makes sense considering that the top 5 gaming companies in terms of revenues in 2019 are mainly from China and Japan, as shown in Table 2.

Geographical distribution of the global gaming market

geographical-distribution

Source: Newzoo

Mobile gaming is the strongest segment for 2019 and it is projected to keep growing in the upcoming years. At the moment, mobile gaming accounts for 36% of total revenues, followed closely by console games, PC games, and to a lesser extent, tablet games and browser games (see Figure 2). In Q3 2019, mobile app consumers downloaded more than 12 billion games and spent nearly USD 16 billion in games, according to App Annie. Downloads for mobile gaming apps entailed a 40% of the total downloads across Apple Store and Google Play, and the consumer spend in mobile games was over 70% of the total app spend for the same period.

Distribution of the global gaming market by platform

Distribution-of-the-global-gaming-market-by-platform

Source: Newzoo

Growth factors

The advent of 5G

Innovation and technology will have a significant impact in the future development and growth of the gaming industry that cannot be completely foreseen at the moment. In particular, it is expected that 5G will reshape the gaming industry as we know it. This technology will enable two of the main disruptors that have been simmering for a few years due to the limitations of the current bandwidth and technology:

Cloud gaming

Cloud gaming is a service that allows users to play games on any device without requiring any specific hardware or a local copy of the game. Cloud gaming is like the Netflix of games. You pay a monthly subscription and you can access a catalog of games that can be played from any device (smartphone, TV, computer, etc.). Some companies have already started to work in the future of gaming. For example, Google Stadia was launched in November 2019 and NVIDIA’s GeForce Now service has been publicly available since February 2020. Other competitors are entering their respective betas, such as Microsoft’s xCloud Project and Tencent’s two cloud-gaming services (Start and WeGame). Newzoo offered three possible global cloud-gaming market-cap forecasts, which vary depending on the user reception and the technology adoption speed:

Global cloud gaming market cap forecasts

For 2020For 2023
Optimistic scenarioUSD 459 millionUSD 5.1 billion
Base scenarioUSD 356 millionUSD 3.2 billion
Pessimistic scenarioUSD 187 millionUSD 1.5 billion

Source: Newzoo

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Players love games because they feel immersed in the stories being told, and they can interact with the surroundings through the eyes of the main characters of their favorite games. The immersiveness of games has reached a new level thanks to new technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). VR has suffered from slow adoption due to the discomfort and complexity of the current technology (the VR glasses are too heavy, too difficult to set up for an average user, etc.), the lack of quality of certain content due to bandwidth and latency limitations, and the high costs of the equipment as well. However, the potential of this technology is there, and as soon as the technological advances provide better and more affordable equipment, as well as faster interaction thanks to 5G, this technology will likely start to take off. AR is another story. The technology required is different, and it can be easily enabled on any smartphone. One example is the success story of Pokémon GO. When the game was first launched in 2016, gamers went crazy going outside catching Pokémons on the streets thanks to the AR technology that the game implemented. This is an example of how this technology can boost once again the mobile gaming market, and with the faster bandwidth brought by 5G, the possibilities are boundless.

The impact of COVID in the gaming industry and its effect on player support

The COVID crisis has had a significant impact on the gaming industry, in particular, the mobile gaming segment. According to App Annie, the weekly mobile game downloads increased 50% during the COVID crisis compared to Q4 2019. Some significant data: 

  • In China, the average game downloads grew 20% in February 2020 compared to the previous month. 
  • Consumers in Italy downloaded 60% more games during the week of March 22nd than the average in January 2020.
  • The average weekly hours spent in games increased by 5% in the United States, 10% in Italy, and 5% in Germany during the month of March 2020 compared to previous months.

Further analysis will be necessary over time to determine whether this contextual situation will have a lasting effect on the mobile gaming industry or not. However, early data obtained in our briefings indicate that support tickets have increased by at least 20%, especially in Europe.

Language services spend in the gaming industry

Our estimation is that the current total localization spend in the gaming industry is between USD 750 million and USD 1.2 billion, based on our market-size analysis. With a CAGR of 9% for the gaming industry, this number will significantly increase over the next five years to between USD 1.1 billion and USD 1.8 billion in 2024.

LSPs, and CRM solutions for customer service in the gaming sector

Language service providers

The top language service providers (LSPs) in the gaming industry are Keywords Studios and Pole To Win, followed by Transperfect and Lionbridge. Some other LSPs offering localization services in the gaming industry include (but are not limited to):

 
AllCorrect GroupNative Prime
Alpha CRCPangea Translation Services
AltagramPresident Translation Service Group
Character LocalizationInternational Co., Ltd.
EC InnovationsRound Table Studio
GlobalWay
Linguitronics Co, Ltd

Keywords Studios not only offers localization, but also Player Support services, and their revenues for this line of business were USD 39.1 million in 2019. According to Keywords Studios Player Support experts, only 30% of game developers offer multilingual player support, even if their games are localized into more languages. They also pointed out that around 50% of developers may include FAQs and knowledge base for their games.

According to Pole To Win (the biggest gaming testing company in the world), “business experienced ongoing growth in the global social games market and demand expanded for testing in multiple languages, localization and for customer support amid the rising popularity of smartphones and tablets.” According to this company, the customer support area experienced growth in 2019.

Increase in language services spend in the gaming industry

 
CompanyTotal revenues 2019 (USD)Estimated game loc revenues 2019 (USD)
Transperfect764,500,00038,225,000
Lionbridge705,000,00035,250,000
Pole To Win220,829,55933,124,443
Keywords366,000,00052,628,077
President Translation Service Group International Co., Ltd.101,389,56412,166,747
Alpha CRC21,081,7354,216,347
EC Innovations25,100,0003,514,000
AllCorrect Group2,436,5992,217,305
GlobalWay4,000,0001,600,000
Character Localization1,500,000750,000
Linguitronics Co, Ltd9,450,198680,414
Pangea Translation Services1,295,460647,730
Round Table Studio2,950,000590,000

Customer support companies

There are four main CRM companies operating in the gaming market:

User-generated content in the gaming industry

Apart from the player support area, there are other categories in the gaming industry that also involve user-generated content, such as: 

  • Live chats in online games
  • Player feedback on product/brand (social media or forums such as Reddit)
  • Content created by gamer communities (such as news, tips, tutorials, upcoming events, jokes, etc.) found on social media/Reddit
  • Player-generated tutorials, game-related information, wikis (such as the fandom community or similar)
  • Video live streaming gameplays or sessions (Twitch, YouTube, Mixer, Facebook)
  • Blog reviews in specialized magazines, and the comments in those blogs
  • Chats and forums for players: Discord, Ventrilo, Teamspeak, Mumble
  • Fanfics
  • In some games, players can create levels or actual in-game content. Some companies include that kind of content in their main games and that could include some textual information to be localized as well. 

Electronic Arts MT specialists have recently published an article in MultiLingual magazine about MT in their organization, and they categorized the localized content and the type of MT that they were applying as follows:

Type of content and the MT method applied for Electronic Arts

type-of-content-and-the-MT-method-applied-for-electronic-arts

Source: Multilingual / Electronic Arts

This information might be of interest to understand what type of content in the gaming market is currently machine translated.

Market-sizing data and results

Our market-sizing analysis

We have carried out a comprehensive market-sizing analysis, which included a total of 42 gaming companies. After the analysis, we can state that around 45% of their total revenues come from international sales and, therefore, localization is an essential part of their market strategy. Nimdzi estimates the size of the game localization market between USD 750 million and USD 1.2 billion. 

We assume that post-sales operations, such as player support, are allocated a lower budget compared to pre-sales operations, as it occurs in many other industries. Based on that assumption and the data that we have gathered as part of this analysis, we can estimate the current Total Addressable Market for user-generated content localization in the player support area in 2020 between USD 100 and 180 million. Considering a CAGR of 10% for this segment, the TAM will range between USD 161 and 289 million in 2024.

Results from the survey

In April 2020, following phone interviews with localization decision-makers in gaming companies, Nimdzi conducted a survey with eight individuals to obtain more nuanced information about their buying behavior. In this section, you can find the results from the survey:

Are you currently localizing the following user-generated content categories?

survey-results-ugc-report-1
survey-results-ugc-report-1-questions

If you localize another type of UGC not included in this question, please specify here:

  1. Game clients, portal publications, marketing assets, technical scripts/internal documentation (legal, job applications, etc.).
  2. We localize actual in-game user-generated content using humans when appropriate.
  3. Regarding chats and forums for players, we don't localize it so much as we have people who speak those languages to communicate with them.

Is there any user-generated content category that would be worth localizing for your organization but that you are not doing at this moment?

  1. Player feedback is something that eventually we would like to incorporate as part of our player support content localization strategy.

Why are you not localizing UGC that may be valuable for your organization?

survey-results-ugc-report-2

Other reasons: 

  1. I am not convinced of the value.
  2. In our opinion, we already localize all UGC worth localizing.
  3. Looking into it.

How do you currently manage multilingual player support?

survey-results-ugc-report-2

Which are the most common language combinations for machine-translated UGC in the player support area?

  1. Hungarian - English.
  2. We don't use MT UGC for player support.
  3. FIGS+CCJK.

What are the current challenges that you’re facing when dealing with multilingual player support?

  1. Not applicable we have no challenges as we manage all languages required by our players.
  2. Low coverage for small languages. Risk of response times if limited FTE absent/sick.
  3. Speed in reply is the most important variable in our player support strategy.

What is the estimated budget you might consider investing in UGC localization for player support in the coming year (in millions of USD)?

survey-results-ugc-report-2

What is the estimated percentage of your overall localization budget dedicated to UGC localization for player support?

survey-results-ugc-report-3

Have you noticed a growth in UGC related to player support due to the COVID crisis and the lockdown measures?

survey-results-ugc-report-4

Insights

The results of the survey further validated the results that we obtained during the market-sizing exercise. The surveyed gaming companies stated that they use either human translation or post-edited machine translation to localize player support content. Five out of eight respondents replied that they only cover certain languages with native speaker agents even if they have players in more territories. Only one respondent stated that they currently use MT for player support. One respondent indicated that they cover all languages with native speaker agents who communicate directly with players. Enhanced MT solutions could be used by that majority of companies not being able to offer multilingual player support at this moment.

Furthermore, one respondent stated that one of the main challenges they encountered when managing multilingual player support is related to low coverage for small languages and the risk of long response times for those languages. This may seem another opportunity for MT solutions. As we could see in the replies from the companies surveyed, the budget allocated for this type of localization is not higher than USD 10 million per year, and most of the respondents replied from USD 0 to 5 million or from 0 to 5% of the overall localization budget.

During the briefings, some companies stated that, in order to release their products in a certain territory, they need to make sure that they can cover all the aspects for an extremely satisfactory player experience. That includes having the resources to fully localize the game, offer player support in the native language of the players with native speakers, or have local teams that monitor the player community. Gaming companies with high-quality standards for user experience would rather use human translation for localization or native speakers for player support when possible because the quality of MT output is not considered good enough for their current standards. 

For other companies, multilingual player support is not always available for their players, especially for small territories or languages. In order to face that shortcoming, they have put in place MT technology to help the player support team to deal with requests in a language other than their own. With this system, they can understand the issues that players are experiencing and provide a solution. MT solutions have also proven to be helpful when the quantity of player support tickets significantly increased due to a given circumstance (a new release, a marketing campaign, COVID-19, etc.). 

Some companies have tried to apply MT to localize other types of user-generated content such as player-generated tutorials or gameplays. However, the quality was not as expected, as the QA effort was sometimes more time-consuming and expensive than localizing with human translators, so the strategy was redefined again. For some companies, MT has been successfully applied to localize player feedback in online stores. The technology helped the player support team provide feedback for all players no matter their language, improving the companies’ online reputation.

Final considerations

As explained through the report, the different methodological tools have allowed us to estimate the TAM for user-generated content localization in the player support area, which is between USD 100 and 180 million. With a CAGR of 10%, the TAM is expected to increase up to between USD 161 and 289 million by 2024

Mobile gaming is one of the most thriving segments at this moment, and Asia-Pacific is the geographic region with the highest revenues. The impact of 5G on the development of the gaming industry remains to be seen, although the assumption is that it will have a positive impact, making this industry grow even more.

For dedicated customer service MT companies interested in pursuing this market, we would suggest looking into companies offering mobile games such as NetEase, Netmarble, Zynga, and Nexon. It would be interesting to target other companies that are already using MT or have shown some interest in this technology, as well as smaller companies or companies that don’t have a big budget (or don’t prioritize the budget) to invest in multilingual player support. Companies that are currently offering cloud gaming services could be an interesting target as well since the cloud gaming segment is projected to grow at a fast pace and their intention is to attract more users who are not currently playing (and, therefore, they may need player support functionalities). We would also recommend contacting game localization companies offering player support services, such as Keywords Studios or Pole To Win.

Finally, companies might like to consider the possibility of offering an MT solution for other types of user-generated content such as the categories listed above.

This publication was researched and written by Nimdzi’s eLearning Director and Lead Media Researcher, Belén Agulló García. If you wish to find out more about the topic of video localization, please reach out to Belén at [email protected].

 

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