Natalia Shuhman
Posted by Natalia Shuhman
on 5/8/23 9:28 AM

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Voice-over Localization for Video Games: How to Sound Local

What is audio localization in video games? Picture this: players enter your game and hear characters’ dialogues and all other spoken narratives in their native language. Yes, that’s what it is, and it’s that simple!

In this article, we’d like to speak about the benefits voice-over localization for video games can bring. We’ll also provide examples of professional video game dubbing, and help developers and publishers fix typical problems of audio translation for games by sharing our practice-based knowledge in simple words.

The Importance of Game Audio Localization

Game audio localization is a part of the game development process that enables game developers and publishers to increase the market potential of their game, create a more immersive gaming experience for players, and get more positive reviews from satisfied users. 

Need more pros to video game dubbing? There are a few! Let’s elaborate.

  1. Immersion: Without localized voiceover, the user experience would be lacking, even if the story itself is designed to be riveting. Translating game dialogue sets in the written form isn’t enough if the same text is being read out loud in the original language; localize the voiceover too!

  2. Retention: With localized voice-overs, it should be easier for players to feel at home in the game universe and develop an emotional attachment to the game. With a comprehensive game language localization that includes voiceover, you can motivate the audience to actually keep playing, which can turn into a higher LTV and increased revenue. Sounds like a win-win, doesn’t it? 

  3. Better Reviews: Let's face it, players are more likely to leave positive reviews if they can understand the game's audio. If players are struggling to understand what's going on in the game because of language barriers, they might not enjoy the experience as much. Game audio localization can help ensure that players understand and enjoy your game, leading to better reviews, more installs, and higher sales.

  4. Competitive Advantage: Offering multilingual game audio can help you attract players who are looking for games in their native language. Although subtitling for video games technically fills this gap, the necessity to constantly read endless lines of narrative might feel exhausting to some players and annoying to others, leading to player dissatisfaction and, subsequently, making them want to jump ship to games that are easier to deal with.

    Look & sound native to your audience from the first marketing touch: localize your game trailer too when going global!


  5. Cultural Appropriateness: Sometimes games feature characters of, for example, different ethnic origins, and this fact affects the way they speak. In a case like this, audio localization can help developers present the specifics of those characters in a way that players from another culture would be able to appreciate. Does that sound a bit too complicated? Read a little story below! 

A video game sound localization example: a LIF:YO case study

Life is Feudal: Your Own (LiF:YO) is a sandbox game with a realistic medieval atmosphere. The game character gives vocalized battle commands, screams in fear, moans when injured, recites prayers, etc. We recorded voice-overs for the character in Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese; more details here.

Each line had to be recorded in four versions, with different accents that correspond to the player’s choice at the beginning of the game: a hero from the East, a hero from the North, a peasant hero, and a noble hero.

Listen to the examples below to see how Alconost succeeded in making the voice-overs sound genuinely authentic.

And there’s more. The character uses several rude exclamations to taunt enemies. Those phrases are intended to be offensive! But what feels offensive for a Spanish-speaking person might not be understood by a Brazilian Portuguese-speaking player the same way. As crazy as it sounds, the professional audio localization for this video game helped keep the rudest parts of the voiceover equally eloquent in both languages!

All this means that game audio localization can bring numerous benefits to game developers and publishers. It's not just about making the game accessible to more players, but also about creating a more immersive gaming experience that can lead to better reviews and a competitive advantage.

Three curious behind-the-scenes facts about video game dubbing

  1. The gender of the character does not necessarily have to match the gender of the narrator. Professional voice actors are versatile and can successfully impersonate literally any creature.

  2. Need to record a voiceover for a child or teenage character? Work with adult voice over talents! Need one of the weirdest reasons to do so? Well, children grow fast, and several years from now, it will be difficult to record add-ons to your game audio localization with the same voice! And yes, the childish effect is better achieved during the recording itself, not at the game audio engineering stage.

  3. There’s no such rule as ‘one character—one artist.’ To reduce voiceover localization costs, consider limiting the quantity of voice talents involved. For example, for the English voiceover of the game ‘Camelot: Wrath of the Green Knight,’ 5 versatile artists lent their voices to over 20 characters! 


Four Practical Tips for Voice-over Localization for Video Games

For sure, the main responsibility for providing quality audio localization for a video game lies with the localization company. But there are several things game development studios and game publishers can do on their end in order to give their game voiceover localization project every possible advantage from the start.

Although you can find substantive tips on localizing audio here, below we give the most practical recommendations that can save you time, money, and sanity.

  1. Write up with a document that describes each character in detail. Specify their name, gender, and age, and describe their look, role in the game's plot, attitude towards other characters, etc. Add a screenshot of each character or, better, a video showing them in action. Assets like this are extremely valuable for proper audio localization in video games. This will help you breeze through the casting stage and minimize the risk of unsuccessful takes on the recording stage.

  2. To simplify game audio implementation, specify whether the voiceover lines should fit a specific timing, and do this before the project starts. Why, you ask? Meeting timing requirements is a job that starts as early as at the translation stage, long before the voiceover artists switch on their mics!

  3. For the sake of simpler implementation, consider ordering the audio recording with file slicing and naming included. That means cutting a long narration into pieces and giving each piece an easily recognizable name that fits the internal logic of file organization in your game.

  4. Specify your requirements for game audio post-production. Do certain voiceover files need a special touch (an added echo, robotic delivery, etc.)? Prepare references, if any, or simply provide your audio localization company with a textual description of the desired sound.

A game audio engineering example: an Avatarico case study

For one of the VR games developed by Avatarico (details here), we recorded voiceovers in English, German, Spanish, and Catalan. To enhance the effect and charge the atmosphere, the majority of audio files produced were post-processed.

Compare, for example, how the funny Robot Assitant sounded in Spanish before and after audio post-processing! For a better understanding of how powerful a game audio post-production can be, listen to the lines spoken by the Pyramid in German in both the raw and processed versions.



Five Reasons To Localize Your Game Audio With Alconost

Alconost is here to help game developers and publishers who are looking to enhance the audio experience of their games. Below you can find several reasons game & app developers entrust Alconost with their product’s audio localization. 

1. Extensive Game Localization Experience: Alconost has been providing game localization services for over 18 years. Now it’s an ISO-certified company that is familiar with the nuances of the multimedia localization industry… And has a never-ending passion for games!


2. Native-speaking Translators and Voiceover Artists: Alconost has a vast network of native-speaking translators and voiceover artists well-versed in game localization. They provide high-quality translations and voiceovers, accurately convey the meaning and tone of the original content, and implement their creativity and eloquence in exactly the way the customer needs.

‘Alconost gets the most out of their voice actors. Whatever you're looking for, they make it happen. :) It's nice that the company is ready to fulfill complex, unusual orders.’ — CEO at Avatarico, a VR quest developer

3. Custom Casting: Alconost offers custom voiceover selection free of charge. This helps game developers and publishers find the perfect voice actors for their characters. We at Alconost have a wide range of voice actors for a wide range of roles, and we have vast experience proposing the right actors for specific characters. Listen to the character voiceover samples in different languages below!

4. Good Feedback From Existing Customers: Alconost has been receiving positive feedback from many existing customers who have used our game audio localization services. We have helped game developers and publishers to enhance the audio experience of their games, and we’re committed to delivering high-quality work.

‘By partnering with Alconost, we were able to get quality voiceovers for our game project. Alconost's specialists were more than a match for the task. I would rate them five out of five.’ — COO at BitBox Ltd, a game development studio

5. Both Artistic and Budget-Friendly: Even if your budget is limited, subtitling for video games might not be the only option you can afford. We at Alconost help customers spend their game localization budget wisely, avoiding superfluous expenses without skimping on quality.

‘Voiceover costs are nothing that would startle developers who know the price of programmers' labor.’ — Chief Product Officer at Happymagenta, a development studio that commissioned voiceovers in 10 languages for their app from Alconost

Wrapping Up

Game audio localization is a must for game developers and publishers aiming for success in international markets. It requires a combination of technical expertise and creative talent. With Alconost's expertise in video game sound localization, you can rest assured that your game is in good hands. We are committed to providing game developers and publishers with the best possible audio localization services to help them create immersive, engaging games no matter the language. 

Get your game ready for a global launch with Alconost. Our passionate and experienced localization professionals will have you covered!

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