Multilingualism is increasing in the United States and there are no signs of it slowing down. In fact, one in five American residents primarily speak a language other than English at home. In sheer numbers, this is a 94 percent increase since 1990, and a 32 percent increase since 2010. Chinese, Spanish, and Arabic speakers are the fastest growing groups in the United States, and the number of French speakers is increasing dramatically worldwide – particular on the continent of Africa.
Gaming is a pastime that is almost entirely free of demographic boundaries. While certain groups are more likely to show interest in specific genres or formats, in general, gaming is popular across race, gender, age and nationality. Recent projections indicate that a total of 2.2 billion gamers around the world will generate $108.9 billion in game revenues in 2017. That is a 7.8 increase over 2016. Digital gaming makes up the lion’s share of sales, accounting for 87 percent of the global market, and mobile technology is growing fastest, representing 42 percent of video game sales.
It’s second nature for us to proclaim the benefits of localization, but is there ever a downside to going global? Software localization services are a net benefit for enterprises, but they can also have drawbacks which are seldom discussed. A recent article by the Common Sense Advisory found that while localization makes software attractive to foreign buyers, it also opens up the possibility of foreign piracy.
The CEO of tinyBuild recently provided country-specific figures for the game Punch Club, revealing initial piracy rates of 97% for Brazil. In other markets, more Germans bought the game than pirated it, with the highest buy rate of any country. The next best countries were the US (23%) and France (17%), but less than 4% in Russia, China, Turkey, Ukraine, Romania, and Poland bought the game.
The second major component of the Smartling translation technology platform is the Global Delivery Network. This could be more aptly named “website localization on the fly”. The Smartling platform connects to your website and responds to requests for localized pages. When users send these requests, the platform is able to detect not only the language being requested, but also the location of the enduser. An appropriate page is served up via Smartling’s servers to the user in real time based on the pre-translated strings of text that you’ve had translated by professional linguists via the Smartling.com platform.
For those who’ve localized websites before, one of the major challenges is determining your target audience and coding the site to properly serve up content in the manner that the user expects. This means not only serving up the correct language, but also displaying the correct units of measurement, date format and type of currency. Depending on how your website has been built, this can sometimes be a significant challenge.
Embracing the Agile Model
Agile localization focuses on continuous collaboration and response to changes as they happen, instead of waiting to begin translation during the final stages of your content’s development. You may be developing or updating a website, software technology, or your company is expanding to new language markets.
Historically, the localization process has been a mere afterthought in that development process. Traditional localization processes (e.g. Waterfall model) have often compromised multilingual product quality with last-minute, risky changes. When localization is left until the very end, emergency fixes have proven to be expensive and time-consuming. This has caused many delays in the release of products, software, apps, and services to market.