Mobile games are nothing new but they are getting bigger and better with each year that passes. In the early days, all mobile phones had was “Snake”; now, many titles which appear on console also make it into the mobile market – alongside the hundreds of titles developed specifically for mobile gaming.
But developers, like gamers, are hungry for more. Games studios are increasingly looking to global markets to expand their user base and increase revenue. Years ago, they used to settle for plain old translation but these days only properly localized games will satisfy the players’ exacting standards.
As we know, localization, put simply, is the process of adapting a game to meet the cultural, linguistic, and technical requirements of a target market. However, this is not a simple process, and presents a unique set of challenges for mobile game developers. Here we explore some of these challenges and outline a few effective strategies for overcoming them.

Creative considerations

Translating and localizing a game isn’t like translating and localizing or software manual or a medical text. Games translation and localization must take into account a broad cultural context in both the source language and the target language. Such contexts are not quite as relevant to non-creative fact-based content.
Avoiding offensive material which materializes in a translation is not enough, though it is an important factor in not outraging your audience and dooming your title from the get-go. The key to providing effective game localization is in-depth, in-country market knowledge. Only by using linguists and writers who are native speakers in the target language can there be genuine understanding of local customs and references that resonate with the target audience.

Every language has its little idiosyncrasies which are often difficult to translate well. Linguistic elements such as idioms, jokes, and puns have their meaning locked into the source language culture, and translation can render them meaningless, potentially leading to confusion or loss of the game’s original charm. For this kind of content, linguists need to confer with the client on whether using transcreation and copywriting services would be better choices for the game.


Technical factors and faux pas

When mobile versions of console games are launched, it isn’t just a case of adapting the content to fit a smaller device. The technical constraints require extensive rewriting, both in terms of code and in-game content. Physical limitations resulting in less screen space, as well as varying device capabilities, will impact how the game is recreated for difference markets worldwide. At a surface level, text expansion or contraction during translation can affect layout and design, requiring adjustments at all levels of the game’s makeup to ensure a seamless user experience.

Navigating the complex landscape of international regulations concerning digital content is a critical challenge for developers and publishers. Different countries have distinct legal frameworks and cultural sensitivities that directly influence what is considered acceptable or legal in digital content, and this includes games. Some countries have stringent regulations on the depiction of violence, gambling elements, or culturally sensitive themes, which might be more lenient in other jurisdictions.

When translating and localizing mobile games for various international markets, it is imperative to adapt the content to comply with these diverse regulations. Failure to do so can result in legal repercussions, including fines or bans, and damage to a company’s reputation. Understanding and respecting these regulations is also crucial for fostering a positive relationship with the game’s audience, ensuring that the content is appropriate and enjoyable for players from different cultural backgrounds.


Consolidating solutions

To navigate these challenges, we advise developers to prioritize five key strategies which will ensure their game will resonate with players worldwide.


1. Cultural Consultation

Engaging with cultural consultants or localization experts who are native to the target market can provide invaluable insights into local preferences and taboos. This can help ensure that the game’s content is both appropriate and engaging for the new audience.


2. Transcreation

Instead of direct translation, transcreation involves creatively adapting content to capture the original’s intent, style, tone, and context. This approach is particularly effective for humour, idioms, and cultural references.


3. Flexible UI/UX Design

Designing with localization in mind from the outset can save a lot of headaches down the line. A flexible UI/UX design that can accommodate text expansion or contraction and supports different character sets can ensure a smooth localization process.


4. Iterative Testing

Localization is not a one-time task but an ongoing process. Iterative testing with native speakers as part of the target audience can help identify and rectify issues before they become problematic.


5. Compliance Expertise

Partnering with legal experts who understand the digital content laws of the target market can ensure that the game meets all regulatory requirements, avoiding costly penalties or revisions down the line.



For any games localization, the key lies in respecting and embracing the diversity of global audiences, crafting experiences that are accessible, engaging and meaningful across cultural boundaries. By understanding the unique challenges and employing strategic solutions, developers can create games that resonate with a global audience, ensuring both cultural relevance and commercial success.