How not to localise your mobile games

If you think reaching the top of app store rankings and achieving high download numbers is the final goal of mobile app development process, you might be wrong.

Apart from increasing your sale figures there’s one more aim worth keeping in mind: your fans expect a great gaming experience optimised for their mobile devices.   

One way to ensure a great gaming experience is to create an engaging and efficient user interface. While it might be easy to determine whether your UI in the original game version is attractive for the target users, the task gets much more complicated once your mobile game is localised.

Below you can see 3 common mistakes of mobile game localisation with some tips on how to avoid them.

1. Not providing a similar game experience across mobile devices

Mobile game players may view your game on many different devices with different operating system and screen dimensions. If you want to attract as many users as possible, both in your home market and abroad, your original and localised game versions should run on as many decides as possible. You have to ensure that your users from other countries and speaking different languages can also access your game and display it without any problems. This is where the responsive design and exhaustive localisation testing comes in handy.

English strings

One of the common localisation issues: publishing a game with unlocalised strings. Here: a Polish version of  Family Farm Seaside with English strings. 


2. Cluttering the mobile screen with unimportant elements

Your users downloaded and installed your game with a specific purpose in mind. Don’t let them be distracted by non-related content which will limit their gaming experience. The space on the mobile screen is limited, so use it wisely. Display big buttons and reduce the amount of text. Sometimes in the localisation process you’ll have to limit the amount of items displayed for the particular locale to keep the UI clean and readable. Every culture and target group may have different preferences, but one thing is sure: your users don’t want to see ads in language they can’t understand or spend hours figuring out how to play your game. Busy backgrounds or colours decreasing readability of your texts are bad ideas too and should be modified in the localisation process.

3. Publishing untested games

There’s nothing worse than publishing a localised game which wasn’t tested. A lousy game with strings left in the original language, with overlapping texts or functionality issues will only irritate your gamers and make them doubt in your products. That’s why localisation testing should always be a part of your mobile game development process. This is how you can ensure that the game is fully functional in every language version and verify whether the user interface meets local requirements.


What other mistakes do you think are common in mobile game localisation?



Dorota helps digital brands infuse their content with a local touch. She is a localization consultant, translator specialized in IT, prompt engineer, and a book author. Dorota teaches online courses on localization, writes for her blog and a Medium publication. She also runs a Small Biz AI, a Substack newsletter for freelancers and small business owners ready to discover handy AI tools.

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