Where is my money dude: design and Steam bundles, localization and distributors

    These are the next three parts of the “where's my money, man” cycle in which we’ll talk about the importance of setting up a page on Steam, working with the community and the importance of regional restrictions. We will look at distributors and the 3d-party distribution market, alternative open platforms, bundles, funds and best practices of crowdfunding in 2018. Finally, take a look at what is important for painless localization of games and how much it costs.

    In addition to fun gifs, we will again consider other people's money and build ambitious plans to conquer the world.

    This article includes several materials already published on other resources. I asked the administration about the possibility of placing it in such a format in order to keep a single numbering here, without references to external resources. Sorry, but it will take you about 40 minutes to read it all. The last two articles initially come out in the middle.

    Design, groups and curators on Steam

    Groups on Steam are a critical tool for quick audience intake in the first days after launch. And sometimes it is even more important than a long list of desired. Do not treat groups as a secondary mechanism: talk about the development, show working materials, videos, gifs, ask for an opinion and (moderately) listen to it. After the release of the game - detailed and understandable lists of changes, announcements of patches. Tell about what you are doing and what you are going to do. One way or another, working on a group and forming a loyal community on your page should start no less than 3 months before the game’s release.
    According to the experience of the past few years, between a quarter and a half of all people who are in your group on Steam at the time of the release of the game are converted into sales during the week - to a greater extent this is the most loyal audience to you.

    On Steam you can see all the group members in the game. A very simple script is enough for you to cross the audience of groups of any games and better understand which audience and how to apply after the release of your game.

    In addition to a large number of impressions and features, you are obliged to take care of good conversions to transitions from such shows and conversions to purchases or adding to your wish list. It's not enough to get a lot of impressions - they need to be effectively converted into purchases.

    Steam doesn’t have a lot of statistics and it’s not always convenient to work with it, however, the Click-thru rate (conversion into conversions to your page) is critically important - this is one of those metrics that you need to take very careful attention to.

    • Be sure to think about the first on your page standing gameplay trailer for Steam, in which the main focus is on gameplay. This greatly affects the conversion in purchases and especially the addition to the desired list.
    • Smaller text - focus on a few interesting gifs that you can place right at the top of your page.
    • If you have a review in the gaming press - be sure to use the Review block on the page.
      Pay attention not only to the key art for the main page or the page of the game, but also to small images - they will be shown on the curators page, in the block for updates (show cycles). From them depends on the effectiveness of the conversion to your page and, ultimately, sales.

    Place the page as much as possible before the release of the game - you will not only have time to gain more audience for the desired list, but also the opportunity to test different options for the page and key art.

    Be sure to experiment with key art, icons and design. Before launching a game, A / B tests on Facebook can be a simple and inexpensive option.

    Communication tools with curators on Steam are strange - you have only 100 applications that you can send, and if you do not have time to withdraw those to which the curator has not responded in any way - your application will burn. If you and the curator are not yet familiar - be sure to write the accompanying messages. Write what you have for the game, why he should show it to his audience. Ask to write to you if he will not do a review.

    Do not ignore the curators - start to get acquainted and agree on reviews for 2-3 months before the game. For large ones, turn on the "woodpecker" mode - write persistently and without stopping.

    If we talk about my experience - we collectively contacted and were able to talk a little more than 400 curators, of whom more than 80 wrote a review or recommendatory review. In the first two months after the launch of the game, this gave 5.161 million impressions and 189,587 thousands of transitions to the game page.

    Regional restrictions

    I am sure that you know about G2A, Kinguin, Gamivo and many other sites where keys are resold. And you definitely do not want your game to sell them at a big discount. At least until then, when you start selling the game as part of bundles.
    The main mistake that should not be made is to request global keys, which can be activated anywhere in the world, and then sell them at a regional price. In other words, I can buy a key in Russia, which costs not $ 20, but 500 rubles ($ 8), then go to Kinguin and sell it for $ 12. That's the whole simple business model.

    To prevent this from happening, you need to deal with regional restrictions on launching and activating your keys before the game is released. By default, on Steam you cannot get packages that contain regional restrictions.

    You need to contact Steam Support in advance - justify the need and request at least additional regional packages for the CIS region, China and LATAM.

    Important! Many stores have sales at regional prices - remember that in the 3rd-party you can sell not only in dollars, know that you will need to send packages of keys with regional restrictions for each of these stores.

    Steam has two types of restrictions - on activation and on launch. Do both - if we look at enterprising Chinese, the most typical hack with reselling keys - buy a key at a low regional price, for example, in Russia, which has only a limited activation. Change the IP address using a VPN or proxy and activate the key. After that, you can return to your original IP and play without restrictions. If the launch restriction is enabled, then it will only play with a permanent connection to a VPN or proxy.

    No matter how you spin, the keys will still appear on the marketplace and almost nothing can be done about it - this is a completely independent group of resellers of keys with connections in regional stores.

    3rd-party distribution

    There are a huge number of stores and platforms in the PC gaming distribution market (by the way, join the filling list), several dozen of them are more or less large, with which you will work either independently or with the help of a publisher or distributor.

    Now a significant part of the distribution is built around Steam-keys. If you look at the entire 3rd-party distribution market in the PC, then you should expect that from 90 to 95% of the money you earn on Steam, and the remaining 5-10% is out of it.

    If you are lucky, you have a very good game, you know how to do marketing very well, or you know some magic - this percentage may be higher. There are big doubts that seriously expect to go abroad 15-20%.

    Selling through 3rd-party stores, you also share profits with them. Usually 70/30, sometimes 60/40. The difference is that Steam does not receive a penny from this money. That is, you bring people to Steam, they install the game on Steam, but the profit is divided between you and the store.
    It is important that you request the keys on Steam in advance, but you only get money after they are sold in 3rd-party stores. And Steam has the ability (and periodically uses it) to refuse to generate keys without giving reasons.

    Sometimes 3rd-party stores use their part of the profits to make exclusive discounts on games - instead of 30% they will take 20% for themselves, and the remaining 10% will “invest” in an extra discount on a well-selling game. All in the win - you are growing sales, the store has an audience and income.

    Remember about the cash gap? All 3rd-parties work differently: one of them transfers money to you every month, someone transfers money once a quarter. For large ones, such as the Humble Bundle, you can manage the minimum withdrawal amount yourself. In a number of stores, if you want to withdraw an amount less than $ 1,000, then pay an additional bank transfer fee.

    These guys above just found out that the absolute majority of 3rd-party stores do not have a marketing plan, and the planning horizon is 1-3 months. Ask often if there are any activities that they are going to run and that you could fit into. At the same time, the more shops you have, the more managers you need to ask about it. Monthly.
    In the last article, there was a heated discussion on the use of discounts and an approach in which you never lower prices. My position is quite simple - if we are talking about indie games in 2018 and you do not have several tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in PR, you will not be able to effectively sell the game. Discounts on Steam - the only tool to attract new audiences.

    Discounts and sales - perpetual motion machine for 3rd-party distribution. And you need to take into account the characteristics of each of your partners. For example, Indiegala has its own unique format - Crackerjack, when your game has a separate page for several days, and the store makes a large mailing list and announcements on social networks. The main condition is that the discounted price should be about 10% below the historical minimum of discounts. Take this seriously - if you miss a 30% discount somewhere, the only chance to participate in such a sale would be to use a discount of 40% or more.
    If you see that they are waiting for your game or it is selling well, do not hesitate to say that you are ready to make some kind of exclusive offer subject to the provision. It works, everyone is used to it, it is quite normal practice.

    A large number of sites, if not all, have a desire to make the biggest discount first. And if you want a feature - you will increase discounts over and over again.


    This is a separate class of companies whose business is closely related to 3rd-party distribution. Their task is to make your life easier by connecting to dozens and hundreds of small and large stores around the world. You enter into one contract with a distributor, and he does all the dirty work: entering into contracts, distributing keys, collecting money, managing discounts, reporting, and sometimes translating marketing materials.

    The scheme is extremely simple - you enter into a contract in which you give the distributor a little more favorable terms than Steam, for example, 65/35 instead of 70/30. The distributor and the store itself are not divided into 70/30, but 75/25. The difference between any two conditions is the very extra profitability of the distributor’s business.
    Most of the large distributors I know work with profit sharing - 70/30. Other proportions, as a rule, are typical for small companies.

    Remember about the speed of payments? A distributor can make things easier - by managing a game portfolio, he gets paid more often than an individual developer. Often, large distributors have their own analytics and key management systems that integrate end stores. This allows you to better control the sales process and their effectiveness.

    Open platforms

    The situation with the GOG is similar to Steam, the main thing is to undergo internal control from the platform. If your game suits them - get the green light. The difference with Steam is that you will not have any guaranteed traffic.

    You can negotiate a feature with a manager who will work with you in the GOG. Outside, the organics are close to zero. The life cycle is exactly the same as on Steam sales. Summer, winter, associated with genres or individual arrangements with the manager. Unlike Steam, GOG managers are much more responsive. It is much faster and easier to negotiate with them about promotion or offer discounts (you yourself cannot change the cost of the game in the GOG).

    Itch- the de facto main platform for small indie developers. The platform has about 10 million unique visitors, almost all of them are Americans. The platform operates at an open rate - you can deduct the platform from 0 to 30%, the recommended rate is 10%.
    I communicate with a fairly large number of people who sell something there, on average, their earnings range from 400 to 1,200 dollars a year.

    At the same time, a platform with a high degree of anarchy and democracy — to receive a feature, you can contact the author of the platform or one of his two colleagues. If you like - you will be placed on the main. so that you there unscrew some time. Average prices for games revolve around 1-5 dollars. Most of the games are free or are sold on a pay-as-you-go model. View their statistics for 2017 to better understand successful cases and games on the platform. I separately want to mention the tools of publishing this platform - from setting pages to downloading the game. They are surprisingly convenient, understandable and simple.

    GameJolt is the twin brother of Itch and, in general, everything works the same. Latest available statistics for 2016. The main audience - Latin America and the United States. The audience is two orders of magnitude smaller than Itch. I believe that, other things being equal, it is worth simply passing by and not wasting your time on this platform.

    The platforms with the model “Netflix of games” - Utomik, Hatch, Jump, PlayKey stand apart. They work on a subscription - "pay for the time you spent in the game" or just for a monthly subscription to the entire range of games.

    Read Brandon Sinclair ’s article “Netflix of games” about threat to developers — right now, in 2018, I share the skepticism of both the author and those developers who have come to these platforms.

    Future stars - Kartridge from Kongregate, Discord, Shard from Fig, The Abyss from the team of the publisher Destiny Games, Robot Cache from Brian Fargo, KorroBox from the guys who worked in Riot Games, Blizzard, Twitch and Gung Ho. And a dozen more platforms, which will be launched in 2018 and 2019. At least two of them - Kartridge and Discord - look very interesting.

    We keep in mind that there are also conditionally open-closed platforms with a very large audience. Example - Uplay from Ubisoft, there are games on it that do not belong and are not published by Ubisoft.

    The rubric “ for what I bought, for what I sell": Origin (EA), is preparing to open the door to third-party products. I heard about it from two projects in development (B and AA class), which communicated with EA at the beginning of July of this year. Please write if you have any information on this.

    EPIC plans to open its gaming platform: 7% of royalties for playing on the Unreal Engine (only the commission for using the engine) and 12% for games on other engines.

    3rd-party bandy

    We will talk about several formats: bundling 3rd-party stores and Steam bundles. 9-12 months after the release of the game, you sold most of the copies of your Steam game. It's time to participate in the bundles. The format is simple - you sell a large number of copies of your game at wholesale prices or receive a fixed payment for participation. The format of bundles offered by many companies.
    I’m sure you’ve seen or heard about bundles from at least one of such stores like Humble Bundle, G2A, Indiegala, Green Man Gaming, GamersGate, Fanatical or Gamivo. In fact, in 2018, all large and many medium-sized 3d-party sites have their counterparts of this format, which operates according to the same rules.

    You have to keep in mind that all the unused number of keys that you generate for bundles will most likely go to resale and after that all your organic sales will disappear. Remember, the 3rd-party bands are the last thing when you have already burned organic sales and discounts.

    Below is a bad experience of one studio that laid out its game in HB bundles in the third month after the start of sales and, in fact, buried it with its own hands.

    So, the stores pay you a flat fee for each key, as part of a bundle. If we talk about the order - it is 0.25-0.35 dollars for the key to the games of the B class, 0.7-1.2 dollars for BB or A and 2-4 dollars for AAA. Often the size of bundles vary from 5 thousand to 30 thousand copies, or 2-10 thousand dollars for B-class games. Of course, prices can vary (and strongly) and directly depend on your ability to negotiate.
    Are there pluses for bundles besides money? Yes, of course: a large number of installations of your game on Steam using keys raise organic traffic. There are new reviews (they are not counted in the ranking), which are seen by friends of players, notifications in the social part of Steam, the number of installed copies is growing, which affects the similar products block.

    In this format, HumbleBundle (HB) is perhaps more widely known by many developers. The latest infopovody associated with this good store, often go inseparably with the caustic remark “humble lose bundle” - in the past year and a half they have stopped focusing on 1-2 relatively fresh AAA games in each bundle. And there is nothing strange in this: since 2015, the company has been actively promoting subscription formats ($ 12 per month) for access to a set of good games updated every month, with mandatory AAA on board.

    In the period from 2010 to December 2013, HB launched 70 bundles , since 2014 it has been actively promoting books and music. To date, she has released more than 650 bundles. If you are not familiar with The Humble Visualisations - meet urgently (2011-2016).

    The rubric “ for what I bought, for what I sell ”: I am familiar with the developers, whose games were in four bundles in 2017 and in two in 2018. All strong indie with the release in 2016-2017. The average participation fee is $ 14,000. The number of copies sold - in the region of 25 thousand. At the same time, statistics on two small indie projects - an average bill of $ 2,400 and ~ 9,000 copies of which at least 40% of the keys are activated.

    How does the subscription format work in HB? You contact the manager, and if your game is suitable for the quality or format of the sale - you will be taken. Humble offers a fixed amount for participating in a subscription without taking into account the number of audience that will receive the game. At the beginning of 2018, the audience of subscriptions exceeded 200 thousand people and, judging by the dynamics, it will double in 2019.

    According to the beginning of the year, participation in subscriptions for explosives and A-class games brings 10-90 thousand dollars (0.05-0.45 dollars per copy), depending on the quality of the game and the internal policy of the Humble Bundle (based on the number of copies sold). , quantity and quality of reviews on Steam, fortune telling on the coffee grounds).

    Steam bundles

    There is nothing unusual in this tool - you can take your games and DLC and make a set of one of two types based on them: with the option to purchase only the missing parts of the set (Complete the set) and without it (Must purchase together). The latter is the main mechanism if you want to make a Special Edition for your game.

    In the first article, we talked about discounts and the fact that Weeklong Deals and your own discounts have one unpleasant limitation - they can only be run once every 60 days. And it is with this that the bundles can help us. Let's talk about the bundles consisting of games of several games, including games of different developers.

    Such bundles are displayed in the Specials section and have a separate automatic feature on Steam. In this format there is a crucial difference from individual games - the bundles consisting of a set of games are not subject to restrictions on changing the size of the discount. You can change them every 5 minutes. You can place the same game in several bundles at the same time.
    This is a format that at least partly helps to circumvent the Steam restrictions on price changes and the launch of discounts. And correctly chosen bundles allow you to increase sales and use your time efficiently while waiting for discount windows. And the tool of any normal publisher is to properly assemble your games and partner games into sets.

    This, among other things, is a reason to be friends - if you are on the path of self-publishing, look for and negotiate with other guys from the “club desperate” about launching joint bands.

    You are not alone

    You are not alone - this is an important point, about which, strangely enough, many people forget or do not consider him at all seriously. If you are developing a game on Unreal or Unity, remember that the companies behind them have more than prizes at industry conferences and exhibitions.

    Epic provides grants ( Unreal Dev Grants ) to support developers (from 5 to 50 thousand dollars). Xsolla has an investment fund for developers Xsolla Capital . Mail.Ru has created a special division of Mail.ru Games Ventures and invests in game companies and projects. Wargaming.net together with LVP also established an investment fund for game developers. Dutch publisher Good Shepherd attracts investment in game projects. Nvidia offers support with training and even PR ( Indie Spotlight Program ). AMD will provide the same help (with the exception of PR).

    You can get help from Epic, nVidia or Radeon engineers if the game you are doing is interesting or uses advanced engine or hardware features. They can help to optimize your game, deal with a complex render, or solve those trivial problems that you cannot understand.

    Equipment vendors - nVidia and Radeon - have their own format of support for developers in the form of Featured Games. These are very active and open companies and engineers who can help you and which you should get acquainted with.

    Do not forget about the more rare, but from that more significant format - the presentation of the new hardware. A striking example of such support is the presentation of nVidia at the recent GamesCom, during which a new technology was demonstrated on the example of the Atomic Heart game.

    There are also national and regional funds, associations, programs that support game developers from their respective countries. I am familiar with the guys who received help from:
    • UK (UK Games Fund) - grants up to 25 thousand pounds.
    • European Union (European Games Developer Federation) - several programs with grants from 10 thousand euros.
    • Germany (German Games Fund) - grants up to 2 million euros.

    If your studio is from this region, be sure to take a closer look at them, and a more complete list for Europe can be found in the Games Funding Guide .

    In Russia, with grants everything is much sadder - there are no government programs (and, perhaps, thanks to the gods), and private investment funds are in no hurry to enter the games due to difficulties in assessing profitability and high risks against the background of a deteriorating economic environment.


    Modern crowdfunding is represented by three platforms - Kickstarter , Indiegogo and Fig . The latter stands a little apart - Fig is not so much crowdfunding as crowdinvesting. As a rule, 50% of funds raised on this platform are essentially “bonds”, on which you will pay a share of future profits.
    If you can agree, Fig has the Backstage Pass Program format - launch a private campaign on the most loyal backers Fig. This platform is especially interesting in that it helps with PR and actively promotes those games that it took to raise funds.

    The last few years for projects collecting up to 100 thousand dollars, they took 25% to fully cover the investment and then 15% for three years. Large projects - 12-13% to cover and 10% for three years. Other things equal, I would consider Fig rather as an investment fund, rather than crowdfunding.

    In 2015, my colleague and employee collected a little less than 70 thousand dollars on Kickstarter with the game Exoplanet, in 2017 I spent a successful campaign with Ash of Gods. I helped several projects in the beginning of 2018 - they independently campaigned, but I had a practical opportunity to be convinced of the reality of the recommendations I want to give.
    • Kickstarter as a gold mine for games ended in 2014. If you plan to collect at least 300 thousand dollars (gross), then your advertising budget will be at least 75 thousand.
    • Kickstarter in 2018 is not about PR. Game press almost does not write about the output of projects on the KS. Nuance - secure a quick collection of money (preferably in the first days) - this is a good informational guide and will increase the likelihood of publications.
    • Active public (super backers) does not like to invest in projects that have a chance not to collect. Focus on ensuring a collection or steady trend for collection in the first 5-7 days. Much is important not so much your project, how much participation in a successful enterprise.
    • When counting on collecting X money, set X / 3 as your goal (x 100ite $ 100 thousand - bet 30 thousand) and properly plan the net of extra goals and a bonus for backers.
    • If you plan to collect less than 30 thousand dollars and you do not have your damn devoted and financially ready audience - leave. An attempt to conduct a campaign with the help of PR studios, specialists or agencies will result in a circle in the amount of 15 thousand dollars.
    • Start talking to your Kickstarter manager about the Project We Love nameplate at least two months before the release. It is very important - it is a mass mailing to active users of KS on the launch of your game and a separate feature on the main page.
    • Drive on the text in the design - gifs and funny pictures are your everything.
    • High organic visibility in issuing Kickstarter on the pages of games or the main one - ensure an inflow of at least 5% of the amount collected per day or traffic of any quality from 10 thousand visitors to your page per day (whether they pay or not).
    • The last 48 hours of the campaign are critical - all your backers will get 48 hours reminder . Extra goals, lot upgrades - that's it. If you are short of 10-15% of the total, you will most likely collect them in the last two days.
    • Cross-promotion works. See which projects are coming out or are planning to go out at the same time with you. Meet, negotiate - write about each other in updates. Think about who, when and how will provide you with a content plan with publications every two to three days.
    • Kicktraq is amazingly convenient service. And one of the few ads that work very well. What is in the main promo block, which is extra.
    • Do not count on the support of assistants such as BackerKit, BackerClub, C-Club, CrowdCrux and analogues. They still work very well with hardware, but not with games.
    • The rubric “for what I bought, for what I sell”: the average ROI of advertising in FB for game projects on Kickstarter in 2017 is 0.9 (at the end of my campaign, this is a survey of 31 projects that went from May to August 2017) .
    • Reddit ads work very well. I deliberately do not write about the removal of posts in the top - yes, it gives up to 40 thousand days a day on gaming and about 12 thousand for gamedev, but removing in these credits is not a trivial task.
    • Imgur - the secret weapon in your hands. Your task is to bring the post in the games tag at the end of the week (Friday, Saturday) to the first place. To do this, you must provide at least 600 likes (points) in the first hour and at least 5 thousand in the first six hours. Any means are suitable. Conclusion on the first page will give you at least 300 thousand views with 5-7% conversion to transitions, if you use the call to action correctly
    • If your goal is Funded with Kickstarter, be prepared to use gray patterns, but keep in mind that finding them is a 15-minute question.
    • Kickstarter is increasingly used as a proof of concept for investors. A vivid example is the story of Kingdom Come: Deliverance.
    • Your Kickstarter project can be closed for a million reasons, for example, for a spam e-mail complaint, if you used someone else's e-mail database.
    • Virtually all the backers from whom you get money are your core audience who would buy the game. Moreover, if you have a shooting range for which you issue a game - you will do this through the keys, but the feedback received from such keys is not included in the ratings.

    Finally, if you are planning a crowdfunding campaign, be sure to take a look at the Square Enix Collective . Moreover, if your goal of proof of concept for investors is to choose this option, it will cost you nothing.

    The rules are as follows: every month, the internal project team selects four games from those that have submitted a pitch in the current period. Then users of the site vote for your game - if you score high marks Square Enix will help you completely free of charge during your campaign period - send out mailings to Collective users, write a story about you, download the link to the Twitter and Facebook campaign.


    This time I feel the need for a small explanation of why I consider myself entitled to write about localization. I first encountered commercial localization and adaptation in 2006. Since then, as a developer, I have had to deal with embedding translation for PC, browser and several mobile games.

    Being an employee of the publisher, I, in an earnest attempt to save on Trados, was developing tools for the localization team. Bes confused me two years ago, and I fell into a deep abyss of community-driven translation. Localization of large projects does not arouse horror in me, only cold trembling trembling and gnashing of teeth.

    So, the localization process is not limited to text translation. This includes work on the quality of the text, testing its integration into the game and adaptation to the requirements of specific regions.
    • Translation . Direct translation of text and assets from one language to another. It is performed by one or several people.
    • Editing . Correction of stylistic and semantic errors, checking how the text in the game is consistent with each other and whether the terminology is chosen and agreed correctly.
    • Proof . Correction of spelling errors. Often the work goes only with the text, excluding its integration into the game.
    • Integration . Embedding the translated materials in the game, changing and configuring the UI / UX for correct display, a small handful of technical work to launch the translated materials already inside the game.
    • Regional adaptation . Thus, in China, blood, skulls, and any religious symbolism cannot be used in games. In Korea, it is forbidden to flirt with religious themes. In Australia, it is better to remove alcohol and drugs from the game.
    • Language Quality Assurance (LQA) . Testing the quality of translation and its integration into the game.

    Remember about marketing materials - another aspect that multiplies depending on the number of markets that the game is entering.


    Before we uncover ruthless calculators, let's spend a couple of paragraphs to deal with the process itself and those aspects that should be paid attention to, whether you are a developer or a project manager.

    While we are talking about a game with 10 thousand words - almost nothing matters, but if you have a big game with 100-300 thousand words - the lack of a correct understanding of the processes and tools will result in a huge headache. Often the translator does not see how the texts look in the game.

    If he cannot understand the logical connection between parts of the loc pack (localization kit), for example, the name of the object and its description, the name of the quest and the briefing, this creates a field for the mass of errors and, as a result, results in huge losses of time and resources (time for error search, reporting, fix and verification).

    Willing engine . You must be able to display UTF-8/16 characters, be able to use sprite sheets for fonts, have tools for creating character sets for sprite sheets (especially for languages ​​that use hieroglyphs - to stupidly cram the entire Chinese alphabet, you need a texture of at least 8K for the character size 12 points).

    Having tried to work with google sheets with export and import into the engine, it is very difficult to force yourself to switch to other formats. Some of the localization platforms can update the text in real time - this is very convenient, especially if you are doing a mobile project. This is a very important and useful feature.

    Fonts. Leaving the licensing questions out of the brackets, you must answer the question whether the fonts you have chosen are ready to display all the symbols you need - Latin, Cyrillic, Umlaut Roman and Germanic languages. With a high probability, you will use separate groups of fonts for Chinese, Korean and Japanese.
    Decide on how to deliver the translation to the user - whether to include all available languages ​​into the game or use a separate language DLC for each specific language.

    Initially, break any groups of visual elements into subgroups - headings and subheadings, basic and additional blocks of text, navigation elements, and so on. You will need the ability to flexibly adjust at least font sizes, line and symbol spacing, and change the baseline font.
    Make sure that you have the tools or you understand how the localization of non-text assets (images, sound, models) will go. Make sure that your toolkit and engine or the selected library can do this without additional work on your part.

    Soberly assess whether you are willing and willing to communicate with the voice acting in different languages ​​- the price will be transcendental against the background of the cost of translation and there will be a heap of new technical problems, but this immediately raises the quality of localization to a new level.

    How are we going to do this?

    The translation you make is not static. Your game will develop, you will release add-ons, change something, add something. Some parts will be re-translated. Think about how you will do it, at the very beginning of development. There are at least three approaches, each with its own pros and cons. The diagrams below are special cases of each of the approaches.

    Consistently . As long as the number of words in your lock pack has not exceeded ten thousand words, you can safely put a bolt on any difficulties and consistently deal with localization for language by language. The downside to this approach is time. The more languages, the more time it takes. Plus - simplicity.

    Parallel. Such an approach is typical for large projects that are interested in the readiness of a large number of languages ​​by the set date and the presence of a large number of translations from one basic language to others. After full readiness of the main language, parallel translation into other languages ​​is launched. Then comes the overall integration and LQA. Minus - the high cost of LQA and changes. Plus - speed, at the cost of greater complexity of the process management, especially if several contractors do the work for you.

    Cascade. The hybrid of the first two methods - as soon as the individual parts of the text are ready and stabilized (for example, chapters of the game or UI categories), they are sent for translation one by one, so that individual blocks of text are translated and integrated faster. This approach is ideal if you use several basic languages ​​or there is a consistent translation between pairs, for example, from Russian into English, from English to Spanish and Italian, from Spanish to Portuguese. Plus - speed, with relatively cheap changes. Minus - high complexity of management.


    Properly chosen tool (Computer-Assisted Translation, CAT) for managing translations will save you a lot of nerves, time and money. It helps not only to do the work efficiently and efficiently, but also to understand the performance of the team or individuals who perform the work, and correctly predict the deadlines.

    Translation memory (TM) . This is a key technology for modern translations, not so much to save time as to reduce costs and improve quality. Neither you nor your translators should spend time translating the same text, the same source text in the same context should be translated the same. The need to change the translation keys (but not the text) should not be a problem. Below we will talk about fuzzy - without TM this does not work. My latest experience is 5.1% of savings due to the use of TM, the experience of my familiar localization department heads shows that savings on large MMO projects can reach up to 25% - 30%.

    Repetitions Control. The number of repetitions can easily reach 30–40% in a large game, and with proper text processing, before translation, this value can be reduced to 50–60% of the total text. A fresh example - right now we are translating one MMO into English and the initial volume of translation was about 300 thousand words. Proper setting of memoQ reduced the volume to about 245 thousand words (about 20% or 6.5 thousand dollars in savings).
    Proofreading tools . Simple filtering, tagging and analytics for volumes of keys and text that have already been read. It helps to understand which keys have already passed the test - it is critically important if several people work on the translation.

    Change control (fuzzy). Marking and filtering keys and text that has changed in the source language, with the ability to make edits to the target language. Imagine that you have partially changed some line or added one word to the sentence. You definitely do not want the whole offer to be paid for and paid for. Moreover, often minor stylistic changes in one language do not necessarily mean that additional translation into another language is required.

    Glossary. Control of the uniformity of translation in relation to translations of proper names, names, including geographic ones, in a single format and according to uniform principles. A unified approach to the translation and the rules for working with invented words (there are often a lot of them in any game with a rich plot). The ease of changing such words and word forms. If the project has several translators working at the same time, this is a critical requirement. If you are too lazy to create it, then you will be able to see in the text various variations of the translation of the same terms for cutting out which will need to spend X time and money on top.

    Life hacking :usually, when you order a translation from an agency, you send them the text for evaluation and you receive from them the number of words or characters for the translation and the cost, everything is cool. All normal agencies work in some CAT-Tula (no one translates in Word and Excel), their profits can be up to 40-50% due to repetitions and fuzzy matches (if you already have a TM). When you go to an agency, say that you work only on CAT statistics (well, when you yourself have this CAT, and you can double-check all the statistics), ask to send quotes for fuzzy and for repetitions. Usually the manager grits his teeth, but he goes forward, and you get completely different estimates.

    Filtering chapters, files, parts. Without this, it is difficult to perform parallel or cascading translation, it is difficult to understand that certain parts of the text are stable and ready or have passed LQA.

    Formats loc pack . Loading and unloading in your loc pack format or a simple adaptation for you of the loading and unloading process. Well, or the presence of API for automatic loading and unloading of data.

    Versioning . Built-in versioning and / or snapshots. It is crucial when you work with a large amount of changing text.

    Pink glasses

    I strongly urge the inclusion of a pessimist, rationalist, and an extra, before the decision on the list of languages ​​to be translated is made. Often, even translation into several languages ​​is associated with relatively high costs and time.

    As a rule, there are several key language regions:
    • EFIGS (English, French, Italian, German, Spanish)
    • CJK (Chinese, Japanese, Korean)
    • LATAM (Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese)
    • Turkish and Persian

    Do I need to translate the game into languages ​​other than English? This is a difficult question, if you turn off the emotions and leave bare figures. Most people in Western Europe, especially gamers, know English at a fairly high level ( English Proficiency Index ):

    Comparing this list with the TOP-15 countries in terms of game revenue from the Newzoo report for June 2018.

    By combining these numbers with the cost of translation, it is easy to conclude that the minimum set of languages ​​is English, Chinese, German, French, Russian.


    The question of prices in this area is extremely simple - everyone is open for negotiations, tests and bargaining. It all depends on your perseverance and the ability to spend time searching for the best solution.
    It is impossible to imagine the creation and release of games without translators. At the same time, I'm sorry, but only composers are more obtrusive - it’s worth writing somewhere that you need a translation, and you can put a cross on the mail.

    Agencies . It is worth remembering that there is not a single company that has proper expertise in all languages. A typical agency is a purchased CAT, translators, proofreaders, editors, a distinct manager and a surcharge of 20-40% found on Proz or on specialized forums. In this case, it is often difficult to assemble an effective team. Other things being equal, I don’t think that it is possible to do without the services of a translation agency that provides a full cycle of work on a text in 100% of cases.

    In this market there are well-established conditions, as a rule - the price for one translated word. The average rate excluding the language pair is in the range of 7 to 15 American or euro cents per word. If we talk about a couple of RU-> EN and those companies that operate in Russia, this is $ 0.09- $ 0.12.

    Translators. There are quite a number of good individual translators who work on their own, without an editor, and are engaged in the translation of games. The choice is almost any language pairs.
    Chat with your industry colleagues! Ask to share direct contacts translators. This is two times cheaper than agencies, and people will obviously understand the specifics of working with games.

    Crowdsourcing . If you feel the strength - assemble a team for custom translation of the game. Just remove the rose-colored glasses first and immediately answer the question of how you will decide the issue of editing, proofreading and LQA.

    In our last game, with the help of the community, we translated the game into Italian and Portuguese (cumulatively a little more than 570 thousand words), we could not - into Korean and Spanish. If you can form a normal community around you, there will always be people who will help with such a translation. It works even when the translation takes many months and is difficult, the main thing is to look at things soberly and remember that only you are responsible for all the processes and control.

    So, the services of companies, as a rule, include translation and editing, it is easy to order services of the corrector and LQA. Some translators will translate the game to you, often they will help you with prooffreeding, sometimes editing. Almost never a quality LQA. Community - translation, much less proofreading and very rarely high-quality editing, LQA - will remain your headache.


    English . An ideal base language for almost any language pair and the main language that we should think about. In addition to the USA, Great Britain, the English part of Canada and Australia, it covers not only most of Western Europe, but also individual countries in Eastern Europe and Asia. The cost of translation into European languages ​​is $ 0.085- $ 0.12 per word for companies, $ 0.04- $ 0.075 individual translators, editing is separately $ 0.02- $ 0.06. Finding help in the community-translation, if we are talking about European languages, is relatively not difficult.

    Life hacking, which many agencies sin: we order the translation of the text not with the neyv-translator, but with the editing with the netivu - this approach allows to save up to 30% compared to a full translation with the neytiv. Quality - as lucky.

    Simplified Chinese. Against the background of relatively low cost, your potential audience is huge. Not only in terms of mobile, but also PC games, especially on Steam. The cost of translation is $ 0.065- $ 0.115 per word for companies, $ 0.025- $ 0.075 for individual translators when translating from English. There are several large indie-communities and groups that are engaged in community translation from English.

    French . This is not only France, but also French-speaking Canada and the former French colonies. And, perhaps, the decisive factor, especially if you are published on consoles - France is one of the key regions for Switch. The cost of translation is $ 0.085- $ 0.15 per word for companies, $ 0.035- $ 0.09 for individual translators when translating from English, editing is separately $ 0.05- $ 0.08 per word. The community is the most sluggish of all the languages ​​I have come across.

    German . Most Germans read English well, but the presence of German will make it easier and faster to work with a local audience. The cost of translation is $ 0.09- $ 0.135 per word for companies, $ 0.02- $ 0.06 for individual translators when translating from English, editing is separately about $ 0.05 per word. Organized community groups have not been found over the years.

    Russian. Over the past year, according to the reports of Newzoo, our country has moved from 12th to 11th place in terms of revenue in the field of games and is one of the largest markets for PC games. Against the background of low knowledge of English, the presence of Russian in any game that wants to make a cashier in our country is absolutely necessary. Especially against the background of the relative cheapness of translation (EN-> RU): $ 0.04- $ 0.10 per word for companies, $ 0.005- $ 0.04 for individual translators when translating from English, editing is separately about $ 0.02 per word, corrector - $ 0.01 per word.

    Spanish. In the top five in the number of speakers of this language in the world. Spain itself is a good region for gaming revenue. Despite the fact that Castillian Spanish and its LATAM version are somewhat different, it is also suitable for Hispanic players in Latin America. The cost of translation is $ 0.08- $ 0.12 per word for companies, $ 0.01- $ 0.06 for individual translators when translating from English, editing is separately about $ 0.02- $ 0.06 per word.

    Japanese. I believe that after China, Japan’s market is second in the desire of European companies to get to it. At the same time, the complexity associated with the release and the high cost of translation makes it very serious to consider whether this is necessary. The cost of translating a horse is $ 0.13- $ 0.18 per word for companies, $ 0.09- $ 0.12 for individual translators when translating from English, editing is separately about $ 0.05- $ 0.07 per word.

    Table of contents

    • Pricing, discounts and wish list on Steam.
    • Regional restrictions, third-party distribution and alternative open platforms (we are here now).
    • Bundles, funds and vendor support, crowdfunding (still here).
    • How much and how does the translation of games and LQA work (and this is also here).
    • Marketing, PR and publisher search.
    • And how on consoles?

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