Why localize your game into Chinese?

The Chinese games market is HUGE. In 2015, China is expected to surpass the US and become the largest games market in the word. Out of the total estimated Chinese game revenue of $22.2 billion in 2015, mobile gaming will contribute $6.1 billion. The majority of the revenue comes from PC games. As mobile games growth is slowing down in the west, China’s is expected to grow at an impressive 19% in 2015E.
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What type of games do well in China?

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Favorite Chinese mobile genres are Puzzle, Casual, Social and Racing games. On PC Free-to-play MMOs increasingly edge out pay-to-play MMO titles like World of Warcraft. The free-to-play model is estimated to hold 80% of the Chinese MMO market by 2017.

How do you localize your game into Chinese?

There are two different sets of Chinese characters used in writing, and you need to decide which ones to localize into. Simplified Chinese character are used in mainland China and Singapore. Traditional characters are used in Taiwan, Hong Kong and by overseas Chinese. The vast majority of developers choose to go into simplified, and some also add on support for traditional. As mobile games growth is slowing down in the west, China’s is expected to grow at an impressive 19% in 2015E.
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Text size considerations

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Chinese is just like English a typically compact language. The amount of characters are normally less than in English but as they are more complicated it is advised to output the text in a larger font. This requires larger vertical spacing than the English version. Horizontally, even with larger font, Chinese usually comes in somewhat shorter than the English text.

80 000 font characters - yikes!

The main issue implementing Chinese localization is how to deal with the font. There are some 80 000 characters in Chinese and an understanding of around 5 000 - 6 000 are typically needed to be a person of average literacy levels. A minimum of 2 000 would allow the reader to understand most publications. In a game where you may have bitmap fonts this can pose a memory problem. One usual approach is to scan the translated text and output all unique Chinese characters on a large bitmap and then use this bitmap as font reference. This way you only have to spend memory on actually used characters. This approach has the downside that it does not work for dynamic text that can change - such as player generated names as the input might introduce characters that are not supported. Another approach is to use a system font provided by the OS if available.

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LocalizeDirect specialize in game translation and would be happy to help you reach China's massive and fast growing games market.

Download Chinese Game Localization Factsheet as PDF