Mobile Game Localization: Countries, Numbers and Statistics

I’ve released a series of puzzle games on mobile (you can check them on the sidebar). Don’t Feed the Trolls and Hashi Puzzles: Bridges & Islands were localized in English and French; Battleship Solitaire Puzzles in ten languages (English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese/Brazilian, Russian, Japanese, Chinese and Korean); and Hashi Extreme Puzzles in eleven languages (same as Battleship with Dutch).

I compare here Hashi Puzzles and Battleship Solitaire as they both have been released for a few weeks and are both puzzle games with a similar monetization strategy: games are free to download and I sell additional level packs.

I focus of the 21 first days after release for both games. For sales data, I use iOS and Android numbers. I don’t use Amazon numbers as Amazon is only available in a few stores and sales are very low. Also note that even though I took into account Android sales, Android sales are only 0.45% (not a typo, read more!) of the revenue for Hashi, and 11.9% of the revenue for Battleship. For ads, I only used iAd numbers, so it’s iOS only.

Revenue per country per game (Ads and Sales)

This first chart is about Hashi Puzzles, translated only in English and French.

hashi_country

Not much surprise here: the game sold in USA and France. The other countries with at least 2% of the sales are also speaking English (or French for part of Canada).

Have a look now Battleship Solitaire, translated in 10 languages.

battleship_country

We still have USA as the top country but we can see new interesting countries, Switzerland (mostly German language but also French and Italian), Germany, Russia, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Japan, South Korea. I’m surprised to see Switzerland ahead of France as it’s a small country. But the game as been in the top charts on iOS in Switzerland, and that probably kept the downloads high for some time there.

The only language not visible in this chart is Chinese. I’ve read it’s a huge market but nothing shows up here. It’s important to know that Google Play is not available in China, though. I had a few downloads on iOS but no sales.

Top countries per platform

Here are the top countries per downloads on Android and iOS, for Battleship Solitaire Puzzles. For this statistics, I use all the data since release, on both platforms (22 days on iOS, 28 on Android).per_platform_downloads

With this first chart about downloads, you can see United States is not on the podium in both platforms, and only 9th on Google Play. Let’s see the sales, now.

per_platform_sales

United States are back on the podium when considering revenue.

Was it worth it?

Yes, it was. I think it also gives more possibilities for the game to show up in local charts for added visibility (top downloads or top grossing). For my latest game (Hashi Extreme Puzzles, released on Android a few days ago, and coming soon on iOS), I first though of dropping Chinese but finally decided to keep it. I added Dutch, too.

Here are two drawbacks of localization, though:

  • You may receive customer emails or store ratings in a language you can’t read or write. I could not get the overall meaning of some emails, even with google translate.
  • Every time you want to make an update with a description of the changes, you need to pay new translations.

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5 Responses to “Mobile Game Localization: Countries, Numbers and Statistics”

  1. Orlando says:

    What translation service do u use and can u give an idea of cost. Thanks

  2. Frozax says:

    I used gengo, they have various prices, and one of them is really cheap. It’s hard to evaluate the quality, though.

  3. @Orlando, there are many translation service choices these days, but as Frozax pointed, quality control is not the main priority of these translation startup, it’s integration and speed that they are after. Gengo listed some of their competitor in a blog post
    http://blog.gengo.com/gengo-the-2012-annual-report/

    @Frozax, it’s frustrating, isn’t it. I spent two days evaluating some translation startups, so far most use the voting method, one even only ask for ‘is the translation complete’! But thinking into the cost structure, I think, it’s a reasonable price. A better option is translation agency, you can see the ballpark cost here (article from 2011, factor in growth and inflation)
    http://www.insidesocialgames.com/2011/02/04/localization-is-more-than-a-game/

    These intermediaries can set you back, though. Read the arguments here and over there you can also find out about TM, which can save you some cost when you just want a portion of the text translated as a result of an update.
    http://loekalization.com/translation-agency.html

    Another alternatives are to crowdsource the translation, then hire a reviewer for each language to check the localisation result, preferably with a knowledge in translation QA. He/she can determine which translator contribute the better translation and then you might be able to focus on using their services.

  4. Frozax says:

    Thanks Selvi for the information!

  5. Sebastian says:

    Great to see what you were able to achieve with localization. It shows what potential there is.

    As for the quality debate, one thing is for sure: your customers will punish you for bad quality, but you’ll never notice. It’s better to just offer the most native experience for all your customers, as your product should speak to them in their tongue, that includes non-linguistic characteristics too, like colors, symbols, etc…

    I’d love to read more about your localization experiences, and/or how those numbers look like a couple of weeks from now!