Video Game Culturalization

The Key That Opens the Door to Global Markets

Publication by Miguel Sepulveda.

In recent years localizing video games has become one of the essential strategies for reaching more players worldwide. The rapid growth of technology networks, the sophistication of today’s mobile phones and their increased affordability  have made it easier for millions of people to access the Android and iOS app stores.

Within these stores the category of games is king.

While nowadays many games publishers know that localization is the key to opening the door to international markets, there are still those who overlook another important process when designing a truly global game: culturalization.

Distributing a game presents a series of challenges that a games publisher must analyze and study to maximize their chances of international success. By not adapting a game to today’s diverse multicultural marketplace, companies run the risk of leaving money on the table in regions where they might have been truly successful. Even worse, they could find themselves offending players in some countries. 

“What we learned about international markets is that it’s not enough to localize the content by just translating it. Instead, we have to culturalize it. In other words, for a game to successfully cross borders its attributes must delve fully into a user’s ethnicity and culture. For instance, when designing for the Korean market, that country’s spirit should be distilled through the game’s artwork, design and features.”

Craig Alexander, VP of Product Development for game studio Turbine

The benefits of including culturalization in the globalization strategy

Let’s start with some theory first to understand why localization and culturalization are different.

What is Video Game Localization?

Localization is the process of adapting a game’s content to a target locale’s language, legal and format requirements (currency, date and font among other parameters). However, video game localization cannot be accomplished without its other counterpart—culturalization.

“Culturalization is going a step further beyond [simple] localization as it takes a deeper look into a game’s fundamental assumptions and content choices, and then gauges the viability in both the broad, multicultural marketplace as well as in specific geographic locales.  [Simple] localization helps gamers simply comprehend the game’s content (primarily through translation), but culturalization helps gamers to potentially engage with the game’s content at a much deeper, more meaningful level.” - The Game Localization Handbook, 2nd edition

This has been a preview. The full report can be accessed online by Nimdzi Partners.

The full publication contains information on why culturalization is a key step in video game development and recommendations to create a top-notch culturalization strategy. If you are not a Nimdzi Partner, contact us.

If you wish to learn more about video game culturalization strategies, reach out Nimdzi's Globalization Specialist Miguel Sepulveda at [email protected].


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