Fans of Japanese games are no doubt familiar with the hassles of localization. A promising new game with innovative mechanics? Let’s hope it makes it over here. The next installment in a cult series of games? Hopefully it has a shot. An obscure niche title aimed towards a Japanese audience? On second thought, how about an import guide.
It should go without saying that the Western and Eastern game industries are two very different beasts. Besides language; cultural, preferential and even philosophical barriers separate the two. Business structure, design philosophies, price points, company tradition, user markets, Western appeal, translation costs; any one of these things can get in the way of the localization of a beloved game. What’s a poor foreign games enthusiast to do then?
When all hope has gone, the only thing left to do is import. Of course, you’re going to want to know a few things about importing before you start.