The Pitfalls of Pure Machine Translation in Games

Machine translation tools have come a long way in automating the translation of in-game text and assets. Many game studios are eager to leverage machine translation to accelerate localization and reduce costs associated with human translation. However, relying solely on machine translation often results in inaccurate, stilted translations that lack cultural resonance. This can severely impact the player experience.

In this blog post, we explore the limitations of machine translation for games and how combining it with expert human linguists addresses these shortcomings. When used together, machine and human translation complements each other, resulting in high-quality localization that accurately conveys meaning while engaging players across cultures.

Lost in Translation: How machine translation alone falls short

Machine translation tools utilize advanced artificial intelligence to analyze source text and automatically generate translations. However, AI lacks critical human linguistic and cultural skills. Relying solely on machines commonly leads to:

  • Mistranslations and inaccuracies. AI struggles with linguistic nuance, idioms, slang and context. This produces unreliable translations.
  • Awkward, unnatural phrasing. Machines translate literally without considering prose flow. This results in translations that feel robotic.
  • Loss of subtle references and humour. The cultural awareness to adapt jokes, references and wordplay is uniquely human. Meaning is lost on machines.
  • An emotionally flat experience. AI cannot impart personality, emotion or empathy through language. Player immersion suffers.
  • Friction from errors. When translation errors obstruct gameplay, it causes player frustration, breaks immersion and damages retention.
  • Reputational risks. Low quality localization harms studio credibility and betrays lack of consideration for international players.


Without human involvement, machine translation delivers technically accurate but literal, culturally unaware translations. Nuance, humor, emotion and resonance are lost, and player experience suffers exponentially.

Combined strengths: How humans enhance AI translation

Thankfully, there is an effective solution that harnesses the strengths of both human and machine translation. By combining AI capabilities with expert linguists, studios can achieve efficient, scalable localization with authentic cultural resonance.

Here are key benefits that human experts provide:

  • Increased accuracy for reliable translations
    Human linguists correct AI mistranslations and ensure mechanical bugs don’t undermine gameplay. Their finesse also conveys subtle meanings accurately. Players receive reliable translations supporting smooth gameplay.
  • Improved comprehension of dialogue, humor and slang
    Humans artfully adapt slang, jokes, wordplay and conversations for comprehension and enjoyment across cultures. This maintains engaging dialogue and humor.
  • A smoother player experience
    With human refinements, translations have cohesive flow and personality. The resulting localization feels natural rather than fragmented. Players enjoy fluent, immersive experiences.
  • Intercultural understanding for resonating globally
    Linguists provide cultural insight machines lack, optimizing translations to resonate across regions. Games embody local relevance.


Combining the repetitive productivity of machines with human creativity and cultural awareness addresses the pitfalls of pure machine translation. Together, they unlock localization that accurately represents the source material while engaging audiences worldwide on a deeper level.

The hybrid solution: Humans and machines in unison

At Alpha Games, our localization process combines AI tools and in-house linguists to achieve the highest quality across massive translation volumes. By working side-by-side with advanced AI, our linguists can focus on:

  • Correcting errors to ensure precise translations
  • Perfecting linguistic and tonal flow for smooth experiences
  • Infusing culturally relevant humour, emotion and references
  • Maintaining gameplay integrity across languages
  • Delivering creative lip-synch transcriptions for voiced content.


This human + machine hybrid approach allows us to scale localization at the speed demanded by studios while upholding standards which satisfy players worldwide. Our linguists also provide feedback to the AI continuously so quality is kept at a constantly high standard.

Bring your game to the world with expert localization

Failing to involve human linguists in localization risks releasing games with fragmented, inaccurate translations that obstruct gameplay and sabotage immersion across your new target markets. By combining AI capabilities with specialized human expertise, studios can confidently adapt gaming content for global audiences while retaining meaning, intent and enjoyment.

At Alpha Games, our hybrid approach leverages the strengths of both. Let us help you avoid mistranslations and create the polished, culturally resonant localization your players deserve.

Get in touch today at or fill out the form on our website to learn more about our services. Your worldwide gaming community is waiting!

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