Translating Hi-Rez games – Localization 101

    Gods and goddesses!

At Hi-Rez, we value our international audience, so we’ve decided to tell you more about the work that goes into localizing SMITE. The languages we translate include French, German, Russian, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, Polish, Turkish, and Chinese. Everything you see in the various language versions of the website, game or marketing materials goes through our localization team. That team ensures that the content reaches you in the right language, is checked for errors and is appropriate to the culture of the respective countries.

First, let’s explain what localization is and how it differs from translation. Localization is the process of translating the content and adapting it to the correct audience in a given country. It involves making sure the jokes are relevant, numbers are correctly displayed and everything sounds like it was originally written in the target language. On the other hand, translation is the process of changing the source language version of the content into a target language version, without worrying about matching the culture of the targeted country.

One of the basic examples of localization is the date format – in the US, the preferred format follows the order of MM/DD/YYYY whereas most countries use DD/MM/YYYY – which can cause some issues if the date is not localized. For instance, American players would read a date 03/04/2018 as 4th March, while European players would see it as 3rd April.
You can also easily notice the localization at work by examining the jokes appearing in game (Skin names, marketing content, VGS commands). These can be extremely difficult to translate literally, so instead they’re usually adjusted to the targeted audience. For example, ‘Ah-MAZING-Cab!’, a play on words (‘amazing’ and ‘Ah Muzen Cab’), might be entirely skipped in some languages, changed or rephrased to better convey the meaning.

The localization process begins when the source content is prepared by the SMITE team (art, design, video, etc.). After the content is finalized, it reaches the hands of the localization team, which translates, adapts and adjusts the content for a given country. The source text is constantly refined and updated, which means that our team is rarely idle. We also can’t forget about the various marketing endeavors – press releases, in-game landing panels, blog posts, patch notes and websites – which also go through the hands of the localization team.

Because of our frequent patch schedule, we have numerous localization challenges to take up quickly in order to ensure that the product you receive is the best possible.

After the translations are completed, they have to be delivered to the SMITE team, who are then responsible for implementing the translations in the game, website, or other appropriate location. Once they appear in the internal pre-release version of the game, the localization department will verify the linguistic content and ensure it is displayed correctly.

This is where you can be very helpful! We always appreciate feedback about our translations and information about areas in which it could be improved. If you happen to find any issues related to localization, please send your feedback at loc-feedback@hirezstudios.com!