According to a study by Newzoo, the market for smartphone and tablet games continued to grow at a very strong 43% increase year-over-year between 2013 to 2014 — from $21.7 billion to $25 billion. Projections for 2015 were even more bullish: 51% growth in North America, 47% in Western Europe, and a whopping 86% for Southeast Asia and China. This should result in a global $30.3 billion market for mobile in 2015. Supporting localization in a global marketplace is an exciting opportunity, but also a challenge.
Even if you ship a product in a language, can you effectively market and also offer support in those same languages? Do you have a legal and even physical presence in a market? Does your company have the internal culture, and external partnerships, to maintain relationships with the global markets you want to reach? There are many factors at play. Not least of which is ROI.
For one company, Boomzap, headquartered out of Singapore, ROI was clearest in East Asia: China, Korea and Japan. For LUG, a Brazilian distributor of online games, localization into Portuguese yielded 15 times higher revenue than the English version in the local market.
It is important to plan for your release beyond just the cost of localizing text strings and help files. Think about your entire business model. What will it take to succeed in the Eurozone? How might that be different for Latin America, or the Far East?
To truly succeed with localization, you have to marry your game release with an effective business strategy. For instance, one analysis of the highly-competitive Korean market by MediaR showed that for each successful release of “top free 25” mobile games in the Apple App Store or “top 10” in Google Play, there was usually an accompanying ad budget of between $30,000 – $60,000.
Contrarily, Games2win was able to achieve 51 million global downloads across its titles without spending a single ad dollar using in-app native ad technology and games customized for their markets — a strategy they dubbed “intense localization.”
This shows many models are available for successful localization, yet each requires you to understand the market you’re entering and have strong plan to build your brand.