Growth Drivers in Global Games
Games are increasingly a global phenomenon. Newzoo’s Global Games Market Report 2021 identifies 20 markets today where games sales exceed $1 billion, and another 19 where sales exceed $400 million. While the US and China are the largest markets by some considerable margin, for any game creator today at least 75 percent of the addressable market (by dollar value) is comprised of players that are not native speakers in the game’s original language.
As publishers seek to capitalize on the opportunities of the global market, Lionbridge Gaming is seeing an increase in the average number of target languages for games localization. Crossover between the core Asian and Western markets is driving this upswing as Asian titles are increasingly localized for US and European release, and vice versa.
But emerging markets are also evolving fast. Today, India, Russia, Indonesia, Turkey, the Netherlands and Thailand are top-20 markets for Games and are common targets for translation. And as the potential revenue of a hit game increases relative to the localization costs, that list is becoming ever longer.
Audio for games is moving in the same direction but has been slightly slower to embrace these new global opportunities. There are several potential reasons for this hesitation:
- Greater costs for audio
- Uncertainty about ROI (return on investment)
- Added scheduling and production dependencies
- Mobile sector domination in emerging markets.
That last point is likely the most powerful of all, as the performance of the mobile platform itself has been a limitation.
That situation is changing rapidly. The increasing performance capabilities of mobile phones and the rapid growth of video game streaming platforms are overcoming technological limitations. Cross platform design and greater platform agnosticism also liberates games to pursue opportunities wherever localized audio will attract local audiences. But there are challenges when increasing the number of target languages for a game audio, especially when emerging target languages do not have a mature games audio industry.