Emerging Markets for Video Game Localization: 2024’s Most Promising Markets

Another year has gone by, and in 2024, new trends and new emerging markets for video game localization are on the rise. The gaming industry as a matter of fact, has been on a relentless growth since the global pandemic of 2020. 

 

With the expansion of the global gaming community, as new gamers pick up controllers, markets move and fluctuate, and new opportunities reveal themselves.

 

In today’s blog, we’ll take a look at the current landscape of video game localization, and guide publishers and developers towards international success.

2023 Takeaways: Classic FIGS And Emerging Markets

Since 2020, the video game industry has seen a massive growth, soaring over the music and movie industry combined, projected to reach a value of $321 by 2026

 

Thanks to this rise, language localization has become a fundamental piece for developers and publishers aiming at international success. Video game localization has been around for a while, but in recent years it has gained more and more attention, thanks to the varied nature of gaming audiences. Looking at the 2023 landscape, we’ve seen classic languages retain and strengthen their position, as well as new, fast-growing and emerging markets. The good ol’ FIGS remained the go-to for video game localization, although with some internal movement. Italian saw a steady rise in demand, closing in on German and Spanish, though French remained at the top, with a significant distance from the rest.

 

As far as emerging markets for video game localization in 2023, we saw a noteworthy rise of the Asian markets.

 

From a business perspective, the Indian market as well saw a significant rise, proving to be a promising field for language localization.

2024: The Most Popular Languages on Steam

Can’t talk about video games without mentioning Steam. An institution at this point, the platform has been pushing and encouraging localization for a while now, and for a good reason.

A significant percentage of its users aren’t native English speakers. 

Let’s look at some numbers:

As we mentioned in the 2023 section, the Asian market, particularly the Chinese market, has been growing exponentially. When we look at the population and at the total number of native Chinese speakers in the whole globe, it makes a lot of sense. On Steam, Simplified Chinese sits at the top as the most popular language between users, at a whopping 33%, followed by English at 32%. The gap between the top two languages and the rest is massive with the third being Russian at 8% followed by other languages.

Keep in mind that these numbers only take into account Steam users.

Worldwide Language Localization Landscape of 2024

Now that we’ve seen the numbers regarding Steam users, we can take a look at the worldwide landscape.

The Ever-Present of Video Game Localization: The FIGS and The South American Market

Just as we’ve seen for 2023, FIGS remains a staple of language localization, making up a significant part of the worldwide market. When addressing video game localization, FIGS is a solid starting point. In 2024 Brazilian Portuguese remains one of the most requested languages for video game localization, making up one of the biggest markets of South America. As a matter of fact, Brazil has seen a steady but rapid growth of gamers within the population, amounting to around 102 million gamers last counted in 2022. Latin America as a whole holds its position as a rapidly growing market, counting around 420 million gamers as a whole.

 

Noteworthy is the Asian market as well, leading the rankings with 1.48 billion gamers, and with China, South Korea and Japan all in the top 5 of the 10 highest countries ranked by revenue in 2022, according to Newzoo

Emerging Markets for Video Game Localization In 2024

In 2024, you might want to keep an eye on the Turkish market. With approximately 43 million gamers in 2021, the Turkish market has seen a significant rise, especially in mobile gaming. Proving to be a very promising emerging market for video game localization, venturing in the Turkish gaming market might be a very smart choice for publishers and developers, but language localization will be a must, considering 80% of the population only speaks Turkish.

The Middle Eastern game market also deserves attention, expected to grow significantly with a forecasted annual growth rate of 13.88% from 2022 to 2027, making it a valuable choice to keep into consideration for developers and publishers. That said, with a culture so different from the West, language localization is crucial for culturally appropriate games and to avoid bans and restrictions.

Looking at the more affirmed markets, as well as all these new emerging markets for video game localization, you might be asking yourself “How do I choose which languages to localize my game into? Should I choose all of them?”.

The answer is no. There are other key factors to keep in mind when addressing video game localization, for example market preference, genre etc.

How Should You Choose Which Languages to Localize Your Product Into?

 

The answer is simple: There’s no simple answer.

 

There is not a one-size-fits-all solution when talking about language localization, it all depends on your goals and your product. If you are looking for reach, simply looking at what language is spoken the most is not enough. If you are looking to do things on a budget, then choosing languages like English, French and Spanish might be better than nothing, but it’s far from enough. 

There are a few factors to consider.

 

Genre

You should consider the genre of your game, and localize according to the preference of the markets you are looking to reach. An RPG might be the favorite genre of a particular market and perform well in it, but it might fail to captivate the audience of another market.

Market Saturation

Consider and take into account competitors and their activeness in particular markets. You can assess and analyze your competitors, and identify any gaps that your game might fill. Does your game bring something different to the table, something more? Are there any competitors that failed in those markets? How can you differentiate yourself? What does your game have in common with other top performing games? These questions might help you make an informed decision, as well as help you target untapped emerging markets.

 Gamer Demographics

An important indicator to look at when assessing video game localization in different markets is gamer demographic. This kind of data is relatively easy to obtain on websites like Statista or Newzoo. 

Purchasing Power of a Market

Analyzing the purchasing power of a market is crucial to assess whether venturing in that specific market will yield profit. Determine if the purchasing power and spending habits of a particular market align with your video game. This way you’ll make sure your audience is willing and capable of investing and spending on your product.

Conclusion

 

So, we saw how in 2024 the ever-present classics kept their spot in the landscape, but we also saw new emerging markets for video game localization, like the Turkish and the Middle Eastern. To say that the gaming industry is growing wouldn’t make justice to the massive movement resulting from this relentless rise. As new gaming communities grow in size each day, new opportunities for publishers and developers present themselves. 

 

The importance of video game localization increases every day, helping developers and publishers connect with their audiences, becoming a great tool for those who wish to surpass national borders, but beware, a bad localization can set you back just as much as a

Why is video game localization important for international success?

As the global gaming community expands, localizing content allows developers and publishers to tap into new markets and connect with a wider audience.

Which languages are most in demand for video game localization in 2024?

There's been a noticeable rise in demand for languages from fast-growing markets, particularly in Asia, with Simplified Chinese leading the way. Languages as Brazilian Portuguese and Turkish have also emerged as critical languages for localization. But do not forget about the good ol' FIGS!

How can developers and publishers decide which languages to localize their games into?

Factors such as the game's genre, target market demographics, the purchasing power of potential players in different regions, and market saturation play crucial roles. Developers and publishers should also consider the unique cultural aspects and preferences of their target audience.