Andrew Morgan, international director at Independent Content Services, says translation is key to game developers succeeding in regulated markets around the world.
One thing’s for certain, game developers are doing a tremendous job of innovating and taking the player experience to the next level.
From titles based around complex narratives, to new formats that turn traditional slots into first-person shooter games, the latest developments are hugely impressive.
This is being wrapped up in jaw-dropping designs, Disney-Pixar quality animations and powerful sound effects that come together to offer a truly compelling player experience.
But all of this is being let down by one key element that game developers have neglected to date, and that is translation and transcreation.
“At first glance, there may not be much content attached to a standard slot game”
This is certainly true of developers deploying their content in regulated jurisdictions around the world; in these markets, localisation is an absolute must.
But what elements of a slot game need to be translated?
What needs to be translated:
At first glance, there may not be much content attached to a standard slot game, but look a little closer and you’ll soon see there is quite a bit to take into account.
- Game description
- Game features (wilds, scatters, bonuses)
- Game rules and pay tables
- Buttons within the game (spin, bet, coins, lines, auto play)
In addition to this, games that feature narratives and characters often use subtitles, which also need to be translated for the markets where the game will be offered.
It is also important to consider the marketing collateral created for each slot launch.
This includes game sheets, graphics, press releases, and any bonuses and promotions that may be run through affiliates and other channels.
What to consider when translating:
There are many ways developers can go about translating content. At one end of the scale you have Google Translate, and at the other end you have professional translation bureaus.
“Translation must be word-perfect and the only way of doing this is to work with experts”
While Google Translate may offer a quick, easy and cheap option for developers, the quality of the translation undoubtedly suffers, particularly in sectors where specific terminology is used like igaming.
For game developers looking to succeed in regulated markets around the world, translation must be word-perfect and the only way of doing this is to work with experts.
When assessing which translation bureau to work with, consider whether the translators used are native to the country/language that the content is being translated into.
Ask about the translation process, and whether translated content is checked by a second native translator.
Also consider whether the translators are experienced in the online casino sector, and whether they will check the translation in the game before it goes live, to ensure there are no issues with things like character limits on buttons.
This is important as some terms simply don’t translate from one language to another, so a native translator with expertise can dip into their lexicon for the most appropriate term. The same is the case with character restrictions, when creativity is sometimes required.
In other cases, a particular term, say “free spins”, is used in both the original language and the language being translated into.
This is true of English to Swedish for “free spins,” and is something that the likes of Google Translate fails to recognise.
“Consumers are becoming increasingly demanding when it comes to the experience they receive”
Furthermore, by creating a glossary of terms such as these for each language, a translation bureau can also ensure consistency across a number of games which enables studios to develop a strong brand.
Risks of not properly translating:
There are several risks that come with not properly translating content, but the most impactful is that of trust among consumers.
Players will be deterred from playing a game, and potentially others from a game studio, if the game has not been properly translated.
What’s more, consumers are becoming increasingly demanding when it comes to the experience they receive at an online casino.
Operators are pouring time and resources into localisation, and this must be extended to the games they are packing into their portfolios.
Other risks include breaching licence requirements and terms, as well as creating issues around affiliates promoting non-compliant content that could cause headaches for operators.
Tips for successful translation:
The first tip for successful translation is to push it higher up the priority list, and give it the attention it needs and deserves.
“There’s little point in developers pushing the boundaries if players are deterred by an opening narrative”
Translation costs can be high – especially for developers offering their games in several markets – but it is a worthwhile investment.
The second tip is to work with a translation bureau, and one that employs native speakers that are also experts in online casino.
For quality control, ensure that all translated content is checked by a second native translator to mitigate any errors slipping through the net, and also opt for a translation company that insists on checking the game in situ before it goes live.
If you think about it, there’s little point in developers pushing the boundaries if players are deterred by an opening narrative they don’t understand or that doesn’t feel right.