"We're definitely looking at all of the games. Whenever Japan makes an announcement and talks about games or brings games out to market already, we look at it and say, 'Will it work in this territory?..."
ah yea, of course... so, where is mother 3?
That's nice so hurry up and get Disaster to the US as well then
This is a horrible reaction by Nintendo to the string of recent criticizim about their methods of localization. What happened to the motto of "ait for the suprise." The point is to have a massive back catalog of games, taking the risks to see if the idea is workable. Sure the idea has to sell itself but they at least have to put it on the market and even better yet make people aware of the idea.
How much can it possibly add to the overall cost to translate a game, and change the text code? It can't be much at all in comparison to the overall development cost of a game. Make the translation, print a few copies to test the waters with, and if it turns out that there isn't a huge demand then at least the relative few gamers who wanted the game will have the game. I mean seriously, 5,000-10,000 sold in a particular region should more than recover the cost of translating a game and switching the text code. Do they really think that they won't sell at 10k of Disaster: DoC, or Monster Hunter 3 in America? Come on... Nintendo makes too many things harder than they have to be.
I have a better question why don't you eamil a resume to nintendo letting them know you think translation is easy and you could do it pretty easily. Some words don't even have a translation to english and some thing just would not work over here like ummm captain rainbow? They or moving in the right direction sin and punishment2 is coming and they helped make fatal frame possible also.
Since you are obviously so content, and incapable of seeing anyone elses points or feeling their frustrations when it comes to Nintendo, why don't you leave off bugging those who have issues with them until you at least find a way to remove your lips from their sphincter? You're so used to the smell it doesn't bother you anymore I guess. Some of you people make me embarrassed for us Nintendo fans as a whole sometimes. Is everything Nintendo does good, and pure, and right? Does everyone have to be completely satisfied in your mind? Any time someone voices concern or complains do you really have to contrive some way to suggest that people are unjustified in their position? It's not just annoying at this point, it's getting a bit disturbing. You really should take that contentment of yours and wallow in the pleasure of it rather than seek out arguments with those who think differently from yourself.
In answer to the original question, localization costs differ depending on what games one is referring to specifically. If you're dealing with a relatively short game or a game that doesn't have much in the way of story, dialogue, cinematics, or complicated instructions, then those costs are going to be relatively low.
However, the issue gets more expensive the more of those factors you add in. For instance, let's say you have a game where all dialogue is purely text based. It's developed primarily in Japan by a Japanese development team -- the people who write the story, the people who write the script, the people who animate things, et cetera.
If you want to release that game in English speaking countries, then it's not just a matter of accessing some kind of Babelfis-esque translation program and hitting "Translate all", because literal translations have very obvious short-coming, based on synonyms, puns, jokes, colloquialisms, rhythm, sentence coherency, grammar ticks, and a whole host of other issues. Companies *have* done this kind of thing in the past, often resulting in rather awful engrish which is only useful to the extent that gamers can laugh at it, which isn't particularly helpful if you're trying to get a complicated instruction or even a creative message across.
That's why the original opening screen of Treasure's Alien Soldier used to say "VISUALSHOCK! SPEEDSHOCK! SOUNDSHOCK! NOW IS THE TIME TO THE 68000 HEART ON FIRE!"
For any sort of quality, you have to hire a new team entirely, or have been working with a multi-lingual team in the first place (the latter choice represents some difficulty, since dev teams have specialized position: writer, programmer, animator, et cetera, and during the hiring process, most human resource people try to pick up people with the best skills in that particular field of expertise). And if you go the first option, this team has to be fairly useful, in that you can't simply translate most issues by getting a single interpreter who knows Japanese and say, Spanish off the street and then just have him rewrite everything, since he might not have very good writing skills and might end up giving messages like "u r rite" or some such nonsense.
Also, this guy doesn't know how to program, so as long as you have Japanese programmers, there are also going to be problems, since, because for example the English alphabet has vastly different characters from Japanese (which itself has multiple ways of writing and expressing things and represents a complicated issue in itself that I'm not qualified to address) someone has to write an English language code such that when someone tries to use English characters, it'll recognise the characters in the first place instead of defaulting to squares like certain PCs do.
And that's just dealing with a text-based game. When you introduce cinematics into the equation, things start to get completely nightmarish. A cutscene, for instance, with characters speaking, requires some pretty extensive work for things to go down. For example, let's pretend we have an English game where two characters have a conversation. And one character says something like "Hello".
Now, here are some of the ways they could translate that to Japanese: konnichiha, ohayou gozaimasu, moshi-moshi, and ohayou. Each of those words is used depending on the situation, be it to mean something like good afternoon, a casual or formal acquaintance, or even whether one's answering the phone.
A. To localize that, you need to know someone who understands the two languages and furthermore understands the use of context and what way to translate that.
B. You need someone to play around with the character models to get it so that their lips are saying are approximation of the new word and dub things. For instance, konnichiha is four syllables and "Hello" is two. Plus, there's a lot of specialized dubbing jargon for dealing with the fact that mouths behave differently to make different sounds. Unless you're doing like in Star Fox 64 where the heads just sorta vibrate to mean speaking.
C. You need someone to either mess around with speed of the cinematic or you need to find some way of getting the exact same message across in eactly the same time-frame, as certain languages have faster or slower ways of getting things across than others. If character A hasn't finished talking and something developes in the scene (like say, something explodes), then you get a pretty perplexing instance of wondering why it takes character A so long to finish his thought and start reacting.
D. You need voice-actors (and generally, you have to hire someone to do the casting and who has an idea of how the field of VAing works) and people to record all that stuff.
E. You need someone who can encode all of that into a game.
All of these facets require additional people, especially if you're working on a time-table. You need to have sound engineers to record the actors, you need to have directors to make sure the actors are doing well, technicians to make sure everything goes well, and creative people who stay in touch with the original people to make certain as little is lost in the translations as possible. And most of all, you need competent programmers (who don't exactly come cheap) to sufficiently integrate these things. These people all draw salaries, and in addition, you need all sorts of equipment to get this done.
And this has to be done on an individual basis for *every* single instance in the game.
Basically, you need a lot of the same kinds of skills that were on the original dev team but need to put resources into again since most dev teams aren't staffed exclusively by people who can speaek Japanese, English, French, German, Spanish, etc.
All of this can be very costly, and very messy in terms of getting things done, which is why, rather than localize things themselves, most people use hire independent localization firms a lot of the time.
Here's an article that gives a little insight into how Microsoft localized Halo 2 for Latin America.
Beyond *that*, companies also have to incur the costs of marketing in that locale and shipping those games overseas.
All of these things add up to quite a sizeable production cost -- even if a terrible job is being done. And if companies estimate that the projected revenue won't make things back, then they won't release them.
Long story short, localization costs differ from game to game based on the needs of that game and the quality of the job being done. 10,000 units would probably be sufficient in localizing Zero Wing. Most other games... Not so much.
And I realize that not all games would cost the same. But Nintendo doesn't even have any RPG's to translate. At this point we're pretty much talking about Disaster, which is already in English save the text which can just be removed, and Monster Hunter 3, which isn't heavy on voice acting. Also, a point I was trying to make was, if a game costs 5-10 million to develop, then 50k-150k dollars to translate it for another region isn't a whole lot relatively speaking. Even if it was 250k to do it I would think that they make enough profit from each game sold to more than cover that with 10,000 games sold.
I was only point out that maybe you over blowing it because you don't know what the cost is and you can not guarantee them sales. No one is kissing their what ever man. I'm a gamer and if I want some thing I try and import it. One gamer does not make a project worth while. Yep I'm one of the guys that does really care for mother 3. They where cool games but what ever. I'm sorry your frustrate but really sin and punishment is coming over here because people actually bought the VC version and the hype men of the industry wanted it. People on a blog are not heard at all. That's where most of your frustration is. It's the people hyping up all the HD games that are being heard. Your not seeing this from the business stand point and Mahr make good points about them. Another thing is you seem to be a certain type of gamer and the industry is slowly leaving you behind. RPGs take a long time to make. You might want to start looking forward to 3rd party games. I like shooter but I don't expect nintendo to make them. They are only one company.
Well, putting aside Disaster for a moment because it's a horse of a different color, even a game like Monster Hunter 3 could potentially incur some pretty serious localization costs.
Menus, shops, NPCs, whatever plot things go down, people have to change those things, which can be a chore unto itself, and people to go in and re-write the code for each individual instance. Competent people who know how to program aren't exactly cheap to come by, and they either need to be multi-lingual themselves or need to be supervised by someone as such. In some cases, these things can cost a lot more than you're estimating.
Now, Disaster, they're releasing that in Europe, and the version the Brits use in theory already has the job done and would be precisely the same as in the U.S., so that's actually not a localization issue at all. That's an issue of how well the public actually receives the game. If it sells even remotely well in either Japan or Europe, then it's almost certain that it's coming to NA. If not, well, then, there's not much hope for things in America. One's best bet would be to try to go to that page that Reggie said he was watching to gauge enthusiasm for the game that only 18 people responded to and try to make a plea there.
Personally, I'm not entirely sold on the game, as part of it requires using the Wii Remote for driving segments, which... doesn't have a very stellar track-record (I'm looking at you, Mario Kart and Alone in the Dark!).
"if a game costs 5-10 million to develop, then 50k-150k dollars to translate it for another region isn't a whole lot relatively speaking. Even if it was 250k to do it I would think that they make enough profit from each game sold to more than cover that with 10,000 games sold."
Whether the amount of money it takes to localize is or isn't a lot relative to the whole development thing doesn't particularly matter to businesses. It's a matter of how the projected marginal revenue that would result from that localization would relate to the projected production costs. If the projected numbers are at least equal (or if the projected revenue is less than, but close to equal the costs) then companies will take that course of action.
If not, well, then, they cut their losses and don't produce, since a financial loss is a financial loss, no matter how small.
From that perspective, I don't see much wrong with Nintendo's strategy. If there's an issue, it's either with the market itself, or with the person trying to predict the market. If the guy advising them thinks there isn't much demand for the game here, well, he probably knows more about that, as well as the specific costs for the specific games, than I do.
From a practical standpoint, if I had to choose between his educated guess and my own, I'd go with his too if I were a business.
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