A fantastic game deserves to be discovered by a broader audience, and sharing your success with users worldwide is crucial.
When contemplating expanding to foreign markets, the question arises: how do you communicate effectively with users in different languages?
The immediate thought is often translation, but the decision between re-recording lines or using subtitles becomes essential for games with spoken languages.
For text-based tasks or applications, translating and adjusting displayed text is straightforward. However, the challenge arises with games featuring spoken languages.
While adding subtitles is a cost-effective option compared to recording new dialogues or videos, cultural considerations play a vital role. Some regions may embrace subtitles, while others might reject your work without dubbing, dismissing it immediately after installation.
Let's delve into the linguistic preferences of various regions.
Users typically prefer subtitles in English-speaking countries like the US and the UK. Residents find it challenging to cope with the lack of synchronization between a character's lip movements and speech.
American movie studios often acquire production rights and create versions with English-speaking actors to address this. Conversely, foreign games, especially Japanese ones, frequently feature English dubs, requiring character reprogramming for better audio-visual synchronization.
Ten years ago, the competition between subtitling and dubbing was balanced in Japan. The dubbing industry, unique with voice actors, was advanced, but poorly executed voice acting could lead to criticism. Many productions in Japan offer gamers a choice between original voices and Japanese dubs.
For instance, Death Stranding, developed by Kojima Productions, initially recorded character voices in English, providing Japanese gamers with dual language options.
While the Korean dubbing industry experienced rapid growth between 1980 and 1990, contemporary Koreans generally prefer subtitles for foreign movies due to the perceived lack of professionalism and mistakes in dubbing. Similarly, Koreans lean towards game subtitles, albeit encountering occasional dubbing challenges.
Dubbing is a tradition in France, where foreign films have been dubbed since the early 20th century. French audiences appreciate dubbing, including those in Monaco, French-speaking Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, and certain African regions. Art films in select theaters may feature subtitles, but popular films are typically shown in their original language.
Spain boasts a strong tradition of dubbing foreign movies, with some local dubbing actors achieving celebrity status. Due to the country's proficiency in English, users prefer consuming content in their native language.
It's worth noting that dubbing and subtitling practices vary in Spanish-speaking Spain and across Latin American countries.
In summary, understanding the linguistic preferences of your target audience is crucial for successfully expanding your game's reach. Whether through subtitles or dubbing, tailoring your approach to each region's cultural nuances can significantly impact user reception and appreciation.