爲什麼手機遊戲經常在國際擴張中遭遇失敗?

作者:Vincent Chan

根據WSJ,到2017年,全球手機遊戲市場將從2010年的27.7億美元提升8倍至296億美元。而在所有國家中,以中日爲首的亞太地區將成爲手機遊戲開發者的最大市場,即擁有48%的全球收益以及超過第二大區域北美3倍的全球收益。

基於這樣的數據,我們便不會對每年無數手機遊戲嘗試着拓展海外市場感到驚訝,但事實上卻很少有遊戲能夠取得成功。

這裏存在的一大問題是現在的手機遊戲迎來了現代的淘金熱。世界各地的開發者都涌入了這一市場希望能夠在此發財致富,從而便導致今天的手機遊戲市場,不管是國內還是國外都變得極具競爭性。

但其實最大的因素還是開發者經常低估手機遊戲本土化的挑戰性與重要性。

在我們幫助手機遊戲走向全球市場的經驗中,我們總結出了這些遊戲在進入國際市場最常犯的6大失誤。如果能夠避免這些失誤,它們的成功機率也會大大提升。

loacalization(from gamedev)

loacalization(from gamedev)

1.缺少明確的國際策略和計劃

遊戲開發者可能犯的最基本的錯誤便是認爲本土化只不過是語言上的翻譯。

不管何時當你計劃將遊戲帶向全球市場,你便需要先問自己以下問題:

什麼元素能夠讓你的公司突顯於市場中?(遊戲邦注:例如目標用戶,GDP,手機滲透,競爭者,語言,法規,文化元素,合作者等等)

基於這些參數,在十大世界市場中你會做出怎樣的先後選擇?

我們能否在進入這些市場前先測試市場需求?每個市場的需求是什麼?

你的公司是否能同時面對多個市場?你是否應該尋找當地的合作者?

面對每個國家你的市場準入策略是什麼?

缺少對於本土化的承諾與理解將會扼殺你走向國際市場的計劃。

因此你需要確保你們公司擁有強大的公司策略能夠推動深入調查,市場探索並進行有效執行。

如果未能制定適當的策略並將其落實行動,那麼不管你的遊戲支持了多少種語言,它都會遭遇失敗。

2.忽視早前遊戲開發階段的本土化

許多遊戲開發者總是將有關本土化的討論推遲到開發週期後面階段,但是他們卻未曾意識到自己在寫下第一行代碼時便犯了一個巨大的錯誤。

這麼做意味着他們將進行多次返工並需要承擔在添加新語言與本土化需求的同時回頭去修改代碼的額外成本,這可能需要花費你們公司數千(或數百萬)美元以及好幾個月時間才能將遊戲帶到海外市場。

比起一直重複工作,你的團隊應該事先做出精確的本土化決策。

你的代碼是否爲預翻譯階段做好了準備?你的UI字符串是否都具體化了?你是否仔細考慮了像符號,顏色,時間和日期格式,貨幣符號等非文本元素?

如果你的代碼未能在一開始便進行本土化,那麼你每添加一行代碼,你所面對的問題便會更嚴重。

3.缺少“文化化”過程

爲了提高一款遊戲在國際市場的成功機率,你就必須更多地管組文化元素。

基本的語言翻譯是任何遊戲開發者需要做的最小任務。最理想的情況是,你的翻譯者能夠面向當地文化去調整你的遊戲內容,因爲文化化是非常必要的一環。

遊戲工作室Turbine的產品開發副總裁Craig Alexander說道:“關於國際市場我們所學到的是隻是翻譯遊戲的本土化是遠遠不夠的。相反地,我們應該文化化遊戲。”

爲了創造最佳遊戲體驗,你的翻譯者應該瞭解國外的文化傳統,目標國家最近的流行文化以及一些當地的參照內容等等。

這同樣也適用於非文本資產中。舉個例子來說吧,在美國V字形手勢是很常見的,但是在英國該手勢卻是表示對別人的侮辱。

爲什麼藝電的《植物大戰殭屍》會成爲中國最受歡迎的手機遊戲之一?讓我們着眼於下圖的殭屍和長城北京的本土化設計。你必須牢記自己可以通過在遊戲中設置具有針對性的遊戲體驗而建立玩家的忠誠度。

plants vs zombies(from gamedev)

plants vs zombies(from gamedev)

4.低估了全球手機遊戲分銷的挑戰性

如果你認爲每個國家的手機遊戲分銷渠道都是一樣的,你便大錯特錯。特別是當你匆忙面向海外市場發行遊戲時,這是更容易被忽視的問題。

你是否知道中國沒有Google Play?相反地,這裏擁有大概200家Android應用商店並創造出了一個非常分裂的市場。如果缺少一個適當的系統去追蹤所有這些渠道的性能,你便不可能制定一個面向目標國家銷售你的應用的有效策略。

在這200多家應用商店中,每家商店都服務着具有不同特徵的不同用戶。你需要着眼於用戶的不同行爲並調整遊戲去適應不同的情況。例如市場領導者經常會爲不同應用商店創造不同版本的遊戲。換句話說,如果他們想瞄準20家應用商店,他們便會創造20個不同版本的遊戲和市場營銷策略。

鑑於這些複雜性,許多西方遊戲開發者在進入中國市場時會選擇與當地發行商和本土化合作者合作。

當你的團隊在制定本土化策略時,你們應該考慮是否需要與當地公司進行合作。

5.未能本土化盈利策略

儘管你的代碼和內容是最必要的本土化對象,但收益模式也很關鍵。

在一些像中國等發展中國家,它們的遊戲玩家並未像美國玩家那樣有錢。所以你的業務模式便需要能夠反應這樣的現實。

當《植物大戰殭屍2》面向中國發行時,他們一開始嘗試着優化盈利模式,即將遊戲變得很難且很貴,並因此收到一些負面的用戶評論並導致遊戲評級一度從5顆星變成2顆星。爲了解決這一問題,他們從經驗中吸取了教訓並嘗試着去平衡難度且改變了遊戲的經濟模式。所以現在他們所收到的消極評論也大大減少了。

當藝電中國分部總經理Leo Liu在GDC上分享自己的學習經驗時便說道:“中國市場是非常不同的,你需要爲任何有悖於西方視角的情況做好準備。”

確保你不會再重蹈他們的覆轍。

6.發行前未進行設備上的測試與翻譯審覈

這是一個很容易避免的業餘問題,但是許多開發者卻屢次遭遇這樣的問題。

你已經投入了許多努力去創造遊戲,並制定了優秀的本土化計劃,翻譯了UI字符串,但是在遊戲發行後你突然意識到一些內容出錯了。你發現一些較長的德文單詞破壞了遊戲的某些UI!但是更糟糕的是當CEO問你爲什麼會發生這種事時,你卻回答:“我本以爲翻譯者自己會注意這種問題。”

永遠不要給問題留下任何機會。如果某些內容出了錯,並且這本該是能夠輕易阻止的錯誤,那麼你就需要承擔所有責任。

再專業的翻譯者也是人,而人都會犯錯,特別是在複雜,分裂且快速發展的手機世界中。

所以你應該確保你的本土化合作者能夠測試並審覈一些手機設備服務,因爲你承擔不起用戶因爲漏洞滿滿的遊戲而失望的結果。如果你因此收到一些負面評價,你便很難在手機世界中隱藏你那低質量的內容。

結論

國際擴張是一件很困難的工作。因此你必須事先明確所有權問題,制定有效的策略並落實行動。如此你的手機遊戲菜鳥有效利用巨大的國際發展機遇。

本文爲遊戲邦/gamerboom.com編譯,拒絕任何不保留版權的轉發,如需轉載請聯繫:遊戲邦

Why Do Mobile Games Often Fail at International Expansion?

By Vincent Chan

According to WSJ, the global mobile game market is expected to increase eightfold from $3.77 billion in 2010 to $29.6 billion in 2017. And among all the countries, the Asia Pacific region, with China and Japan as leaders, is the biggest market for mobile game developers with 48% of the global revenue and three times more paying gamers than the second biggest region, North America.

Considering these statistics, it’s no surprise that there are countless mobile games trying to expand abroad each year; however, very few can claim success.

Part of the problem is that mobile gaming has become a modern-day gold rush. Worldwide developers flooded the market hoping to strike it rich, making today’s mobile game market extremely competitive, no matter in domestic or oversea markets.

But the biggest factor is that developers often underestimate the challenges and importance of mobile game localization.

In our experience of helping mobile games go global, here are six common mistakes they make when jumping into the international market. Avoid these, and you will greatly increase your chances of success.

Attached Image: game-localization-670.jpg

1. No explicit international strategy and plan

The most basic and early stage mistake a game developer can make is failing to understand that localization is more than word-for-word language translation.

Whenever you plan to take your game global, first establish a localization strategy that answers questions like:

What factors characterize an attractive market for your company? (e.g population, GDP, mobile penetration, competitors, language, regulation, cultural factors, partners…)

What’s your prioritized list of the top 10 world markets based on these criteria?

Can we test the demand of a market before going all-in?
What are the market needs of each?

Can your company address multiple markets at the same time?
Should you find a local partner?

What’s your go-to-market strategy for each country?

Lack of commitment and understanding in localization often kills an international initiative.

Therefore, make sure your company has a strong corporate champion to drive the in-depth research, explore the markets and own the execution once the strategy is done.

Without formulating the right strategy and translating it into actions, your game will fail, no matter how many languages it supports.

2. Ignoring localization in the early phase of game development

Many game developers try to postpone localization-related discussion until the end of the development cycle, but they don’t realize that they have made a huge mistake from the moment they write their first line of code.

What this typically equates to is a lot of rework and additional costs to go back and modify your code to work when you add new language and localization requirements, costing your company thousands (or millions) of dollars and months of delay in getting into overseas markets.

Instead of doing costly rework down the road, your team should make an explicit decision on internationalization upfront.

Is your code well-prepared for the pre-translation phase? Are your UI strings all externalized? Have you given careful consideration in international non-text elements such as symbols, colours, time and date formats, and currency symbols?

If your code isn’t localized in the beginning, the problem is getting worse with every line you add.

3. No “culturalization” process

To increase the odds of a title’s success in international markets, great attention must be paid to the cultural aspects.

Basic language translation is the bare minimum that any game developers should be doing. Ideally, your translators should be able to adapt your game content to the local culture because culturalization is a necessity.

“What we learned about international markets is that it’s not enough to localize the content by just translating it. Instead, we have to culturalize it,” Craig Alexander, VP of Product Development for game studio Turbine, said.

In order to create the best gaming experience, your translators have to understand foreign cultural traditions, the latest pop culture in the targeted country, local points of reference, etc.

The same applies to non-text assets. For example, while showing a peace sign is normal in the USA, a reverse peace sign suddenly becomes an insult in places like the UK.

Why did EA’s Plants vs. Zombies become one of the biggest mobile hits in China? Just look at the localised design of the zombies and the Great Wall background in the picture below. Keep in mind that you can build gamer loyalty by fully capturing a regionally exclusive experience within the game.

Attached Image: Plants-Vs-Zombies-Great-Wall.png

4. Underestimate the challenge of global mobile game distribution

If you think that all the mobile game distribution channels in every country are similar, you are making a big mistake! In the rush to launch overseas, this is often the most overlooked problem by game developers.

Do you know that China doesn’t have Google Play? Instead, it has around 200 Android app stores creating a highly fragmented market. Without a system in place to track the performance of these channels, you basically can’t have accurate strategies for distributing your app in this country.

Each of those app stores serve a different audience with their own characteristics. You need to look at their different behaviours and adapt your games to different situations. For instance, market leaders often create different versions for different app stores. In other words, if there are 20 app stores they want to target, they will create 20 different versions and marketing strategies for their games.

Due to these complexities, many western game developers work with local publishing and localization partners when they are trying to expand to China now.

When your team comes up with the localization strategy plan, make sure to discuss whether a local partner is needed.

5. Failing to localize the monetization strategy

Although your code and content may be the most obvious localization candidates, your revenue model is equally critical.

In some developing countries, like China, their game players don’t make as much money as the average US gamers. Your business model needs to reflect that reality as a result.

When Plants Vs. Zombies 2 launched in China, they initially tried to optimize for the monetization too much, making the game way too hard and expensive to play, which backfired on user’s reviews and dropped their rating from five star to two at one point. To overcome this, they learned from the experience and tried to figure out the right balance of difficulty and how to reasonably ask for money by changing the game’s economy. Now they get far fewer negative reviews than before.

When sharing his learnings at the Game Developers Conference, Leo Liu, GM of EA Mobile in China, said, “The Chinese market is so different, you have to be prepared for anything unusual from the Western perspective.”

Make sure you won’t repeat their mistakes.

6. No on-device testing and translation review prior to release

This is an amateur problem that is so easily avoidable and yet we came across it time and time again.

You work so hard on the game, create a great localization plan, translate UI strings, it launches, and suddenly, you realise something is broken. You find out that some extra long German words break some of your game UI! But the worst part of this scenario is when your CEO asks you how this happened, and you say, “I thought the translator was taking care of it…”

Never assume and never leave anything to chance. At the end of the day, if something does go wrong, and you could have easily prevented it, the responsibility is on you.

Professional translators are human and people make mistakes sometimes, especially in the complex, fragmented and rapidly evolving world of mobile.

Make sure your localization partners provide localization testing and review services on a number of mobile devices because you can’t afford to disappoint your users with buggy games. After you’ve received a poor rating, there is no way to hide poor quality in the world of mobile.

Conclusion

It’s true that international expansion is hard to get right. Therefore, clear ownership, good strategy up-front, and great execution are critical. That way your mobile game will be in a great position to take advantage of the huge international opportunity!

If you want to learn more about whether your mobile games are on the right track in terms of localization strategy, I invite you to get a Free Assessment with our Localization Managers today. We’re here to help! Simply click the banner below to join the invitation.(source:gamedev)