Making Mind Mould Available in Global Markets – Interview with Indie Developers from SillyWalk Games

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In this podcast, indie developers Arman Kayhan and Levon Sebuhyan of Sillywalk Games discuss the challenges and lessons learned from taking their game Mind Mould to global markets. Below is the transcript of our interview content. Click here to listen. Enjoy!

Michelle: Hello, everyone! Welcome back to LocaLAIse this. My name is Michelle Zhao, and I am the Director for Global Publishing here at LAI Global Game Services. Our guests today are Levon and Arman from SillyWalk Games. They are an indie team based in Europe. Mind Mould, which is also called Nao Li Mo Ju in Chinese, is their newest mobile puzzle game designed with a global interest. They have overcome many difficulties to solve their own puzzle of getting the game ready for a global launch. They have expended quite some efforts to localize their game especially for Asian market. I believe their journey to the East story will particually interest our western listeners. Now let’s welcome Levon and Arman to share their experience with us.

Levon and Arman: Hi, Michelle. It’s nice to be here. Thank you for having me on to talk about our game.

Michelle: OK, let’s begin our interview with the 1st question:

1. How did you come up with the concept?

Levon and Arman:  We were playing a lot of shape filling puzzle games in that time. After a while we figured out that, every single one of it is actually same. They give you a shape to fill and there is only one solution for it, so either you find it or you fail. So it was a matter of time and more tries.

Since we were in love with the puzzle concepts, specially the shape filling ones, we wanted to hold on to the main concept but make some changes to push players to the next level on that genre. That was the time we started working on Mind Mould.

2. Michelle:  Comparing to other puzzle games, what makes your game unique?

Levon and Arman: We created a game in which players can find their own solutions for every single level. Even though it’s your 4th or 5th time with the same level, you wonder how solutions will vary with your choice of filling the puzzles. Because of that, Mind Mould players should push their creativity and visualization skills.

3. Michelle: As an indie game developer, it’s no easy job to develop a game for the global market. Any struggles you met during development?

Levon and Arman: Yeah, of course, of course. Being an indie developer team has many struggles actually. First of all you are a small team and that means that there is more and more work to do per person. The biggest struggle is the limited skill tree, I mean you are a team consisting of 3-4 people. Everyone has his unique skill set, but other than that if something new comes up, you are forced to learn new skill to get the job done. That takes time and makes your project go slower. But that is just how it is as an indie developer.

4. Michelle: When you are looking into the market to launch, why are you particularly interested in Chinese market?

Levon and Arman: We knew China is a huge market with a lot of potential to go. Year by year it’s pace of growth increased and we wanted to be part of this.

Michelle: You are right – according to a few research institutes like Newzoo and TalkingData, China’s mobile games market will reach $6.5 billion in revenues this year (2015), more than one fifth of the $30.1 billion generated worldwide. This positions China as the world’s biggest market for smartphone and tablet games, ahead of the US with an anticipated $6.0 billion in revenues this year (2015). And the most popular mobile games are among either really hard-core games like MOBA games, or extremely casual games.

5. In terms of localization, what have you worked on to make the game more appealing in the other market?

Levon and Arman: Players must have fun playing your game, and it starts with the proper localization. We wanted them to feel Mind Mould like one of their own.

So other than classic translation work, we started to read about the history and mythology of the country. We re-created our cut-scene, mascot, colors and music to be closer to the Chinese culture.

Michelle: Exactly! While the first touch of localization is the language and locale, it seems that you have put a great deal of thoughts on the habits, favorites and gameplay of local gamers. From our experience, we knew that Chinese users normally stick to a game more than Western gamers within a short time period. But they are also early quitters in front of difficulties in games.

 

6. Next question is a follow up to this: any difficulties you meet when localizing it? What lessons have you learned?

Levon and Arman: We face with many difficulties actually. Most significant one was working with Asian fonts. We used to work with Latin fonts, but Asian fonts are something new for us. Like, if there is a mix-up in the texts, we wont notice it immediately. And also the layout and readability is not easy to check for us. Certain graphic effects will work fine on Western fonts, but will mess up on Asian fonts. So that was the difficulty we face.

Michelle: I’ve heard that later on, you’ve worked out the issues during the testing phase with the help from LAI’s Asian game localization experts. That’s great news!

7.  And talking about testing, what have you found out from the gamers in other cultures during testing?

Levon and Arman: We figured out in China, players expect to see lots of tips in the game. The players are more familiar with a busier window comparing to western gamers. That was a real surprise for us.

Another thing we learned from testing phrase is that gamers will have different preferences and leave very different comments. We will listen to their ideas but can’t integrate all, of course.

8. Michelle: What are other tips you could give to developers looking into publishing their game overseas?

Levon and Arman: First of all, It is important to work with a localization company. It is a must actually. You can’t afford to make big mistakes regarding culture and language. Publishing a game is hard enough by itself, imagine what would happen if elements of the game would be offending to people in those culture.

Michelle: Thank you very much for sharing your story with us, Levon and Arman! Hope Mind Mould a global success!

Levon and Arman: Oh, thank you, Michelle.

 

Michelle: Back to our listeners, hope you enjoy today’s discussion with our friend Levon and Arman from SillyWalk Games. And as always, if you have comments, suggestion or questions for us here at LAI Global Game Services, please feel free to email us at podcast@lai.com, or you can even twit us at LanguageAutoInc.

Interview with Carme Mangiron of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

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In this episode of LocaLAIse This!, we interview Carme Mangiron, an experienced game localizer and chair of the Master in Audiovisual Translation program at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, where she developed the localization curriculum. In this podcast, Carme talks about the skills needed to break into the game localization industry, her perspectives on the industry, and new developments we can expect to see in the days ahead.

Below is the transcript of our interview content. Click here to listen. Enjoy!

David:    Hello, everyone! Welcome back to LocaLAIse This!, a podcast in which we bring you interviews with industry experts on topics of game localization and global game publishing.

I’m your host, David Lakritz, President & CEO of LAI Global Game Services.

Our guest today is Carme Mangiron, an experienced Japanese to Spanish game localizer  and chair of the Master in Audiovisual Translation program at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Carme is also the co-author of Game Localization: Translating for the Global Digital Entertainment Industry. Carme will be sharing her perspectives on game localization with us today.

David:    Carme, welcome to the podcast!

Carme:   Thank you, David!  Thank you for having me.

 

1. David:   Carme, your work in academia teaching game localization to aspiring students along with your prior work in the industry localizing popular games such as Final Fantasy must give you an interesting perspective on game localization.

What advice would you offer to someone looking to break into the industry about the skills that are important to have to be a successful game localizer?

Carme:  I think that game localizers must be very passionate about their job, and usually students who want to become game translators or localizers are avid gamers, but it’s not essential.  But I think an interest at least in the industry and some knowledge about the game industry and global pop culture are essential, as well as of course any skills that any translator should have such as good competence in the source language, target language, intercultural awareness, and good creativity because it’s very important to be very creative and I also think good writing skills. So, a good game translator has to be a good storyteller.

 

2. David:   Can you talk about some of the challenges that game localizers face when translating a game and how they can most effectively work with the rest of the development team?

Carme:  I think one of the most – the biggest — challenges we face is lack of space, and also the lack of access to the context, like sometimes you’re translating the game without actually seeing it and this is what’s known as “blindfolded translation” can be very challenging, especially if translators are not very familiar with the game medium or the genre that they’re translating. I think for that reason communication with the development team is essential especially if you don’t have access to the original game because it’s being developed at the time or because it’s been outsourced, that you don’t know if you’re translating from Japanese, you know it could be a male or female, it could be 1 or 2 gender, and number agreement issues, so I think that it’s important that developers try to provide as much information as possible about the game, about character limitation, about gender, about for example if a string, if it’s a verb or it’s an order, etc. So I think communication is very important and also the localizers have to be good with dealing with space constraints, also time pressure, etc. things like that.

 

3. David:    And have you seen those issues improve over time? In other words, has life gotten easier for game localizers compared to what it was maybe 10 years ago?

Carme:    Yes. Yes, I think so. I think developers are getting more and more aware of the importance of localization and also trying to make it easier for them. For example, using variables for gender. Or even when we started, with the Final Fantasy series in 1998 into Spanish, we had to ask for all the special characters, to be able to see them in the game without them being corrupted, and now all these things are being accounted for. I’ve been very lucky because as Square – Square Enix now – we always had access to the context of the game, and I also think that some translators who work from home it’s getting easier because most companies are becoming aware of the importance of context, character limitations, etc. and they’re providing this information in the localization kit. So, I think it is getting better, and I think the work of the Localization Special Interest Group has been very important for this, within the International Game Developers Association, to promote and raise a bit of awareness about how important good quality localization is, and that you need a certain amount of information, walkthroughs, style guides, etc., screenshots if possible to be able to provide the best quality translation.

 

4. David:   Now, Carme, I want to ask you a question on a completely different topic. You know, one of the trends we’ve seen in the last several years is more developers using agile methodologies and moving towards a more agile project workflow. And I know that one of the pillars of agile is that change is the norm rather than the exception. That of course has implications on the game localization team.

What has been your experience with agile and how have you seen that impact game localization?

Carme:  Yes, that actually makes your life harder because you’re working with text that’s in a constant state of flux, and maybe some particular fragment that took you a long time to localize, then it’s kind of left behind, and it’s replaced. So basically, you need to be also very agile translating…and be ready to let go of your translation and change it, and revisit it and also I think that means that you do not have access to the context or the game because it’s being developed and that also implies that you need to have more intuition or sometimes, apply, ok, what’s the less risky decision here, is this likely to be, a group of people talking, or is this likely to be, a fighting technique, or sometimes then you need to be more quick and also a bit more adventurous with your translation and be ready to change it as well. Sometimes, we don’t like it because it’s taken us a long time to come up with a nice translation, or a ?, or the name of a weapon. I’ve worked a lot with RPGs, so you have to be ready to let go and also ready to maybe make it shorter, change the scene. I think we need to work very quickly as well and respond quickly to the changing needs and the changing working process.

 

5. David:   I know exactly what you mean Carme. It is very challenging not compromising creativity or quality when too many constraints are imposed.  Well, since we’re talking about future trends, I think our listeners would be very interested if you could gaze into your crystal ball (laugh) and tell us what you see are some of the changes on the horizon for game localization.

Carme:  I think we’re going towards more and more interactive movies, especially for some genres like RPGs or action/adventure games and I think if that happens, game localization is going to need to look into more seriously like dubbing practices, or subtitling practices, more like it’s done in movies,  for example, lip-synching, and all these things I think they’re going to be taken into account much more and that might be an issue and might be challenging when you don’t have access, because if you know if you have a close up of a character speaking it would be nice if it was perfectly synchronized, but if you don’t have access to the image. So I’m hoping as well, that localizers are going to have more resources to have access to the product and be able to localize it better and take into account dubbing and subtitling practices.

And also, there is a trend now which and I don’t know how this is going to affect professional translators, but also crowdsourcing. It’s here, especially indie game developers sometimes are resorting to that because they cannot afford or do not have the budget at the moment, and I think it’s a trend that might be here to stay but I don’t know how and of course I don’t think the quality can be comparable at all but I think it’s something else that we need to look at and how that’s going to develop.

 

6. David:    One last question – can you tell us about any other interesting projects you’re currently working on?

Carme:   You know, we organize a game localization conference in Barcelona every 2 years. It’s called “Fun for All” –  well, “Fun for All” video game translation and accessibility. We actually also cover a little bit of game accessibility. We’re going to host the 4th edition in June, the 9th and 10th of June.

It’s a great forum of discussion for academics, and practitioners, and we try to bring people from the industry as well. That keeps me busy. We’re organizing on that, and then,  I also try to do research on game localization, what’s been done and from what aspects. And I’m also very interested in the concept of quality. Quality, and immersion and reception of the localized version. So that’s all things that I want to look at in the future.

David:   Sounds like you’re going to be pretty busy, Carme. Good luck with all of your endeavors! And thanks again for being on the podcast.

Carme:  Thank you for having me.

David:    And I would like to thank our listeners for tuning in.  If you have any comments or suggestions on topics you’d like us to cover in future podcasts, please e-mail us at podcasts@lai.com or tweet us at @LanguageAutoInc. We look forward to hearing from you!

 

 

God of Arena – Localizing a Chinese-style Game for the Western Market

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In this episode of LocaLAIse This!, we interview the Community Manager (CM) of Firevale Games about the challenges of adapting and recreating a Chinese-style game for the western market.

Below is the transcript of our interview content. Click here to listen. Enjoy!

Michelle:   Hello, everyone! Welcome back to LocaLAIse this. My name is Michelle Zhao, and I am the Managing Director for the Greater China area here at LAI Global Game Services. Our guest today is Rory Schussler, gaming community manager of Firevale’s new mobile game: God of Arena. What is unique about this team is that they are a Chinese company that achieved success in western mobile market. Today they are going to share their experience and insights about this new game. Now let’s welcome Rory.

Rory:   Hi, Michelle. It’s nice to be here! I am Rory, Community Manager for God of Arena from Firevale Games. Thank you for having me on to talk about our game.

Facebook Community Organic Growths –
The 1
st month after Community Manager took over – a tremendous growth on the 3rd week

1. Michelle:  Could you tell our audience about your company and your new game, God of Arena?

Rory: Firevale was founded by some industry talents from EA, Ubisoft and Zynga. Now we are based in Beijing and we have offices in ShangHai and HongKong.

As a startup in 2012, our first game was a social game. We spent 6 months building the game and then launched the game on some social networks in China. However, the game was unfortunately not successful due to some design mistakes and the downward trend of the social game market.

On Dec 2012, we decided to cancel the social game project. We reformed the company and kicked off our first mobile game – KongFu House. We released the first version of the game on May 2013. It brought us our first income and we were pretty excited at that moment. Later on in July 2013, we started to launch the game with our publishing partners in more territories. We were so lucky. The game had great success in China Mainland, Taiwan, HongKong, Macau, South Korean and Thailand. It ranked in the top of the AppStore for all of those countries. We reached Number 1 top grossing in China, Taiwan, HongKong, Macau, and Thailand. We were Number 4 top grossing in South Korea.

2013 was our lucky year. In early 2014 we started looking into the mobile game market of North America and Europe. We wanted to make games for the world. As the first step to the West, we decided to bring our successful game (which had proven itself successful in Asia) to the western market. However, our game – KongFu House – is an eastern culture game, and to make it a western game, we would have to have changed the game background to western culture. This is no easy task. But Firevale is always like that; we get an idea and we go for it. We chose our best designers, artists and engineers and told them that there is only one goal for this project: make the new game a much better game than KongFu House. To make this happen, our team put in a lot of effort working on it, and a few months later, the western version of KongFu House, God of Arena, was born.

Now God of Arena is launched on AppStore and Google Play. Our team is continuing to work on the game, add new features, and collect feedback from our players. We are confident that we will definitely continue to improve this great game.

2. Michelle:   After you decided you wanted to go for a western story and target market, how did your team decide on the theme for God of Arena? What are your team’s strengths and advantages that you used to make this happen?

Rory:  The reason for choosing this story is pretty simple. Like a lot of people around the world, we like the historic setting of Rome and we think the gladiators of Rome are very cool. That’s what motivated us to build a gladiator game. If you want to make an idea become real, you have to be excited about the idea first.

Our team is a proven fighter in the industry. There are no doubts about our strength in game design, art and engineering. And since a gladiator game is definitely a western setting, we want to serve our target market in North America and Europe.

3.  Michelle:    We’re interested to hear about some of the great ideas your team came up with during development.

Rory:   There was a lot of great creativity during the development. For example, when we started writing the story, we decided we wanted it to be something original. Then someone from the team suggested that we should add the great men from the history of Rome into the story, such as Caesar, Spartacus, etc. and let our players challenge them and even recruit them as fighters. Another idea came when we started building our competitive PVP feature, the Brave Tower. We thought about how to make a top player really feel like they are a champion. We came up with the idea of building a tower as a visual metaphor for this feature. The champion stands on the top and accepts challenges from everyone, while everyone else fights to climb up. There are a lot of great ideas that came from our team.

GOA’s Wiki pages

Michelle:   What about moving to a different market? Could you share with us about your localization experience?

Rory:   It was also challenging moving between two very different settings and deciding on what to do with thematic elements that don’t translate precisely. In a wuxia setting, it’s typical for all of the characters to use supernatural techniques in combat, so we made that an important gameplay element in Kongfu House. However, you don’t usually see warriors in the western classical era stories using the same kind of magical powers. We didn’t want to take it out of the game, though, so we worked hard to come up with titles and descriptions of the combat skills that didn’t seem out of place in a game about gladiators.

In terms of characters’ names and in-game dialogue, we worked with LAI’s localization team and we really like how they can come up with Greco-Roman flavor names to align with the style and setting of the historic time period. Their creative writing and translation makes the story and environment more immersive for the gamer.

In the end, I think we struck a good balance. Characters still use attacks that can strike through a line of enemies in one blow, but it doesn’t clash with the aesthetics or take you out of the grim and brutal atmosphere that characterizes combat in the setting.

4. Michelle:     On the subject of translation, localization and international publishing, I am curious, did you meet any issues during the development and publishing phases?

Rory:    Yes, we met a few more challenges in the publishing phase.

First of all, user acquisition is much more expensive than in Asia, so it’s more challenging to get people to try your game.

Secondly, there is more for the development team to learn about the preferences of western players. We needed feedback to understand what they like about the game and what they don’t like in order to serve our players better.

5. Michelle:    How are you dealing with those issues?

Rory:   Currently, we’re using the power of Facebook. We have integrated Facebook social features into the game. We have more features based on social systems in store on our production roadmap.

Our Facebook fan page is also an excellent way for us to collect feedback from players and to help us serve western players better. We’re also working on expanding our social media presence and using a game Wiki to help get players the information they want.

6. Michelle:    Are there any other interesting developments related to the game?

Rory:   There is one more thing makes all of us very excited. About 10 days after God of Arena was launched, we got an email from Apple informing us that God of Arena had been chosen as a featured game. And just before Christmas, our game was featured in Best New Games on Australia’s AppStore.

7. Michelle:    What is next for God of Arena and Firevale?

Rory:   For God of Arena, we plan to keep updating the game and bringing more fun to our players.

For Firevale, we will keep trying our best to build great games. Now we have stepped out from Asia, we will continue to learn from the world’s great game developers such as SuperCell, Kabam and Machine Zone. It’s our goal to make games for the whole world.

Michelle:   Thank you very much for sharing your experience with us, Rory! Hope Firevale will bring many more great games to our western players. 

Rory:   Oh, thank you, Michelle.

Michelle:   Back to our listeners, hope you enjoy today’s discussion with our friend Rory from Firevale Games. And as always, if you have comments, suggestion or questions for us here at LAI Global Game Services, please feel free to email us at podcast@lai.com, or you can even twit us at LanguageAutoInc.

 

Global Payment System For Video Games Interview – Part 2 Transcript (LocaLAIse This! Podcast) [Michael Johnson @FastSpring and Michelle Zhao @LAI]

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Below is the transcript of our interview content. Click here to listen. Enjoy!

Michelle:   Hi everyone, welcome back to LocaLAIse This!, a podcast for the video game community, in which we interview experts on hot topics in game localization and global game publishing! My name is Michelle Zhao, Managing Director for Greater China here at LAI Global Game Services.

 

In the first part of this edition, we talked about global payment systems for video games, including its localization, challenges, tips and solutions with our guest, Michael Johnson, Director of Marketing & Business Development for FastSpring. In the second part of the episode today, we are going to discuss a little more about how you could utilize global e-commerce platform to increase your game sale.

Michael, thanks again for joining us today!

Michael:   Hi Michelle, thanks for having me!

1. Michelle:   For our game developer audience– Based on your experience, do you know which markets are most willing to spend money through e-commerce platforms in the video game industry?

Michael:    Well, the US, Europe and APAC are definitely the largest markets; these are by markets we think all companies should potentially target. But, to get into more of the specifics of that question, it depends on the nature of the game – there is a big difference between MMOGs, Casual Games, Serious Games, etc. Out of all the games played online we know that puzzle, board game, trivia, and card games make up 34% of the total global market. Action, sports, strategy, and role-playing make up another 26%. Casual and social games make up about 19%, and a few other categories make up the rest. The key question is, where is the most profitable market for your particular type of game. After we talk with the client and figure out their goals in terms of expansion, we take a look at their games and determine which of the larger markets makes sense to target first and that’s where knowing which types of games do better in certain markets comes into play. It all depends on the client goals and their particular game type.

2. Michelle:    Which currencies does FastSpring support?

Michael:    We support more than 19 different currencies, all the major currencies like the Japanese Yen, the Chinese Yuan, Australian Dollar, the Euro, and of course the US Dollar. And we are adding to that list of supported currencies every day.

3. Michelle:    What gaming platforms do you support now?

Michael:
    Our platform is geared for online games (typically subscription-style games), as well as games that run in Windows, downloadable Mac games, games written and sold for Android, and also games for iOS. So, we cover a lot of ground here, for monetizing video games globally.


4. Michelle:    How does an e-commerce platform help video game companies increase their revenue worldwide, aside from the basic currency and platform support?

Michael:    Well, without e-commerce platform, you couldn’t really sell overseas or anywhere online. And a good platform will come equipped with a verity of tools you can use to customize for your specific type of store. So those tools are what you use to increase revenue worldwide. One of the biggest tools would be to have many payment methods, so you can reach as many global markets as possible. For us specifically, we help the client figure out which individual tools or which combination of tools makes sense to their specific game. Once a company is set up with us, we take a look at their games and their current order pages.

The first thing we do is to make sure the specific store design is optimized to attract and convert the maximum amount of customers. So, product branding is important here, and by product branding, I mean, making sure that there is a cohesive visual theme for all important pages associated with the game– From the game’s main website, to the game’s app store page, and everything in between. In this industry, the game itself is the product, along with all digital media associated with it. So, it is very important that all the digital media is branded together as a whole entity, including the digital store where customers will come to purchase or download the game.

5. Michelle:    Absolutely! We know in the videogame industry, the user acquisition, conversion and retention process could be very tedious, tricky or even expensive, so branding plays a very, very important role here, and making sure you find the right solution for your digital storefront is very important as well.

Michael:    Sure. Second, we take a look at which couponing tools make the most sense, things like: cross-sells, up-sells, the name-your-own price tool, or other add-ons that customers (who typical buy a certain type of game) would be interested in.

6. Michelle:    Well, that’s smart. Who doesn’t like coupons?!

Michael:    We can also check order pages and make sure they’re optimized to get the best results on search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo.  Another thing we like to do is to take a look at the price points for games to make sure the price is right for a particular market the company wants to enter. We want to find that sweet spot that consumers are willing to pay, not too low but also not too high, so we have testing environments where clients can test which pricing strategy makes the most sense.

7. Michelle:    Yes, gamers from different regions have different incomes, use different currencies and prefer their own payment methods. A well-localized game must be equipped with locale-targeted monetization and pricing strategy. For example, we know for a fact that in China, Alipay, QQ coins and WeChat purchases are very popular besides paying through three big mobile phone carriers. Studies show that including culturalized elements could also increase in-game purchases, sales, in f2p games. For example, in China there are items sold for 88 cents, versus in America, some items are sold for 99 cents.

Michael:   There are other things that take place behind the scenes every time a transaction takes place and all these things help our clients increase revenue as well.

  • One is multiple merchant accounts and an intelligent payment routing infrastructure. This allows for maximum credit card acceptance rates while still effectively managing fraud risks. Having multiple merchant accounts helps sales a lot because the payment is routed to the gateway with the highest chance of succeeding, so that catches a lot of sales that otherwise would have been lost.
  • We also host the deliverables for our clients. Doing so eliminates their support or bandwidth expenses, this doesn’t really increase sales per se, but helps our clients save money that would have been spent if they used a solution that charged extra fee for file hosting. So our clients margin per game are on average larger because of this, and their lives are a tad less complicated.
  • FastSpring’s cart-abandonment tools are awesome, so if anyone listening is comparing solutions this is a great tool to have. It allows you to capture certain customer data if they abandon the checkout process. You can then followup up with that customer via an automated email function and offer things like a discount, or something similar, if they complete the purchase.
  • And sometimes a client will start by simply selling their game on their website but it’ll be a game where users like to try it before they buy it. At times we will recommend that a client think about letting customers play the game for free, fall in love with it, but in order to get to the next level, for example, the customer will have to do an in-app purchase via our embedded SDK, and purchase level-by-level or buy the entire game before they play on. So we can do things like F2P trails that expire after a designated time period.

So we like to look at the big picture, when it comes to increase the client revenue globally. A good platform will also come with great reporting tools, so you can measure the effectiveness of your store and keep track of your growth. So this is how we and our platform can be used to increase revenue from a global prospective.

8. Michelle:    Can you give us an example of how a game developer would see revenue increases by following these steps and taking the right approach to market their game globally?

Michael:    We literally sell thousands of different game products and tens of thousands of other digital assets so there are numerous examples, rather than trying to dive into a single example let me point out what our clients experience most often. What we see is that a new Client who is selling only in one currency, USD for example, and only with the most common US payment methods will see a 5-25% lift simply by turning on global payment methods and currencies (which is free to do on our platform). And by taking advantage of our optimized order forms, which use geo-IP services to automatically preset themselves in the appropriate language and currency for the consumer in any area of the world. By going that we can increase a number of orders online. In addition to these two things, making sure the correct tools that we talked about a minute ago, are utilized and structured appropriately adds to that 5-25% revenue increase as well.

Our clients like us because we are a full service solution. We have all the tools necessary, and the customer support to enable and empower companies to enter into new markets and expand their product footprint. And it’s crucial that our clients stay focused on their products and not become distracted or have to worry about the hassles of e-commerce. We are super passionate about empowering people and companies to sell easily online. So finding an easy solution, and one that offers you everything you need to be crazy successful in your business, it’s crucial.

Michelle:   Definitely!  Well thank you, Michael for a very informative discussion. Global e-commerce will only continue to become more and more vital as the world markets become more and more interconnected, so its great to hear some expert advice about the state of the industry right now, and how it can help growing businesses bloom and thrive.

Michael:   You’re welcome, Michelle! It was great to be here and discuss these things. So thanks so much for having me! I really enjoyed it.

Michelle:    It’s been a pleasure to have you!

Back to our listeners, Thanks for listening to the latest episode of LocaLAIse This! With our guest, Michael Johnson from FastSpring. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Michael directly at michael.johnson@fastspring.com. You can also check out the FastSpring.com website to get a feel for the company’s presence. And as always, if you have comments, suggestions or questions for us here at LAI Global Game Services, please feel free to e-mail us at podcast@lai.com or, you can even tweet us @LanguageAutoInc.

Global Payment System For Video Games Interview – Part 1 Transcript (LocaLAIseThis! Podcast) [Michael Johnson @FastSpring and Michelle Zhao @ LAI]

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Below is the transcript of our interview content. Click here to listen! Enjoy!

Michelle:  Welcome to the latest edition of LocaLAIse This!, a podcast for the video game community, in which we interview experts on the hot topics in game localization and global game publishing! My name is Michelle Zhao, Managing Director for Greater China here at LAI Global Game Services.

This edition of LocaLAIse This! is dedicated to the global payment systems for games, and we’re very pleased to have as our guest, Michael Johnson, Director of Marketing & Business Development for FastSpring.

Michael, Welcome to LocaLAIse This!

Michael:  Hey Michelle, thanks for having me! It’s a privilege and I’m super excited to be here!

1. Michelle:   Michael, thank you for coming to talk with us about global commerce for the video game industry! We are looking forward to hearing all about your expertise in this field with FastSpring—Would you please introduce to our listeners what FastSpring is and what FastSpring does?

Michael:   Sure! FastSpring is a global e-commerce platform that supports payments and subscriptions, both online and within games. So if you’re a game developer, we do the heavy lifting for you so you can monetize and sell your game assets globally, in a multi-language and multi-currency fashion.

2. Michelle:   That sounds like a great solution, especially for developers with a global vision! Talking about selling globally, we noticed that the growth of Free-to-Play (F2P) games has been phenomenal. In China, or say, in most parts of Asia, F2P games have already dominated the market. Can you also help game developers sell their virtual goods or in-game items for this type of game?

Michael:   Sure, absolutely!  We have an embedded store solution so that items or virtual goods can be purchased from within the game itself.

3. Michelle:   Now, we know there can be a lot of complications that arise when game developers are looking to publish and sell their games in overseas markets. From your experience in the e-commerce industry, how would you explain localization to someone who might not yet be familiar with the whole process?

Michael:   Sure, so there are like two sides of localization, one is appearance and the functionality of the game itself, like how it looks and feels to the player; and the other side is transactional part, the order pages on a website or within the game itself.

To explain the order pages part, it is good to think about, you know, taking a trip into a foreign country: you are at a store, and you want to buy a souvenir; or maybe you are going to a restaurant for dinner. But you can’t understand what the items on the menu are because you can’t understand the language. And of course, the price displayed in that particular local currency, so you don’t know how much it costs because you didn’t convert your money into the local currency when you arrived at your destination. So localization from a transactional stand point means translating those order pages in the correct language or dialect, and being able to convert that currency in accepted local currency methods as well. So customers around the globe can make purchases and business can make more money. Localization is all about being ready for opportunities in the other areas of the world. When you have a customer in another country wants to purchase your product, you need to be ready for that.

The other part of localization is taxes. This is not the most fun part. But every country has their own tax rates and laws. One thing that is helpful about our platform is we automatically handle the collection of Value Added Taxes, or VAT tax. And it is important to get this part of localization correct, because it is something very important for selling overseas. So that is another kind of localization that is critically important.

4. Michelle:   Great analogy! Based on your experience, what is the current role or status and what are some of the challenges of providing a global e-commerce platform, as a whole industry in and of itself?

Michael:   So over the past decade the world has become a very small place in terms of selling online. There are particular challenges or fears that often times paralyze companies from selling aboard. One of the biggest is not getting paid and lack of integrity and quality of financial institution overseas.  No one wants to be duped or be a victim of fraud or have their hard work undervalued, through the scope of a different economy. This economic variability is always a concern for those looking to expand their business overseas.

Companies are also challenged in regards to global tax collection and compliance, and this part alone can seem particularly overwhelming. Tax laws change on a regular basis and keeping up with that can be a full time job. Companies are afraid of getting the tax part wrong and having a foreign bureau come after them for back taxes, penalties, or whatever. So tax compliance can be complicated enough in your home country, let alone in another country. As you can imagine, getting the tax part wrong is a risk businesses should not have to deal with. It’s important to find an e-commerce partner who handles international taxes as a part of their overall solution!

Some other challenges with selling globally include currency conversion, order page translation, and of course, pirated sales. The odds of someone ripping your game off increase if you start to sell in unfamiliar markets. And this is also another deterrent for companies considering global sales. We have many Digital Rights Management options to choose from to avoid pirated sales. Luckily, currency conversion and order page translation these days happen automatically based on a customer’s IP location; however, there are some solutions in the industry that charge a fee for adding new currencies to your store. So its’ important to be mindful of what’s included or what’s not included in the solutions that you may be looking at. We don’t think businesses should be charged if they want to offer customers that a variety of payment methods or currencies.

As challenging or intimidating as it may seem, selling overseas, the benefits of it far out way the difficulties! We specialize in helping companies see the advantages of global sales, and help them navigate their way through turbulent water so that they can reap the benefits of the global market.

5. Michelle:   Michael, can you tell us a bit about some of the solutions you see in the global e-commerce space?  Maybe share some industry-related advice for listeners who are still in the beginning phases of learning about global sales?

Michael:   Yes, absolutely! There is definitely a lot to know, and it’s always going to be changing! Solutions in the industry handle currency exchange and monetization in a variety of ways and some charge extra fees to do these two things.

When it comes to monetization or anything really, we recommend that you try to limit your liabilities as much as possible.

Here are some things to think about:

  • Determine what the liabilities of solution A would be as opposed to solution B. Make a list.
  • Know what accounts are included, what accounts are NOT included, who delivers the product to the end customers, who handles and is responsible for fraud. So, in order to monetize and sell online or in-game a lot of things are needed to facilitate a transaction and 90% of that transaction happens in the background. Things like: merchant accounts, gateways, payment methods, fulfillment methods, fraud services, taxes services, banking relationships, and optimized payment routing technologies. They are part of every transaction and a good solution will have multiple layers of each for redundancy purposes. Be cautious of solutions with low advertised rates because a lot of them require you to setup things like your own merchant account and handle fulfillment and taxes. But doing that also exposes a company to a lot of liabilities and additional fees that add up quickly. So if you go for a solution that isn’t full service, it probably means that you have to provide those things, like your own merchant account, which exposes you to extra liabilities.
  • Make sure there are no fees for turning on different currencies. I know there are some solutions that will charge a fee just to turn on or off a specific currency or a payment method. Some of these fees can be expensive depending on how big your business is. I’ve heard some fees for turning on the Euro currency, for example, it could be several thousand of dollars, just for turning those on or off! So pay attention to those fees.

  • And things like in-game stores or purchasing are a given these days. If a solution doesn’t offer in-game stores or some kind of in-game purchase, it may be good to pass on that solution.
  • Selling online is probably going to be the biggest part of your revenue so it’s critical to have customer service that’s available to you 24/7/365. It’s easy to overlook this part in order to get what seems like a cheaper rate. If you have an online business, the e-commerce solution you choose is absolutely critical to your success in the long run. If something were to go wrong, or you’re launching a new product or have a very tight deadline, you need to be able to actually get in touch with your ecommerce provider. So look for solutions with high customer reviews and ones that have won customer service awards in their industry.

Michelle:   Thank you, Michael!

Back to our listeners, thanks for listening to our first part of the episode.  For the later part, we will further discuss how e-commerce platform helps video game companies increase their revenue worldwide.  I’d like to thank our guest Michael Johnson from FastSpring for his contribution to this topic. If you have any questions, you could reach out to Michael directly at michael.johnson@fastspring.com. You can also check out the FastSpring.com website to get a feel for the company’s presence. And as always, if you have comments, suggestions or questions for us here at LAI Global Game Services, please feel free to e-mail us at podcast@lai.com or, you can even tweet us at LanguageAutoInc.

2015 Language & Translation Conferences

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Here is an updated list of upcoming conferences in language and translation, all around the globe, for 2015. Please feel free to contact us if you know of other related conferences that you don’t see posted here– The more the merrier!

 

January 9, 2015: Legal Translation Symposium, University of Roehampton, London, UK.

January 29-31, 2015: AIETI7 New Horizons in Translation and Interpreting Studies, Málaga, Spain.

March 27-28, 2015: Translation & Localization Conference. Warsaw, Poland.

April 23-25, 2015: ITI Conference 2015. Newcastle Gateshead, UK.

May 1-2, 2015: BP15. Zagreb, Croatia.

May 27-29, 2015: IV International Conference on Corpus Use and Learning to Translate. University of Alicante, Alicante, Spain.

June 1-7, 2015: Bread Loaf Translators’ Conference. Middlebury, Vermont, USA.

June  27-28, 2015: NZSTI Conference 2015, New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters. Wellington, New Zealand.

August 24-27, 2015: 15th International Conference on Translation, PPA15. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

November 4-7, 2015: ATA 16th Annual Conference, American Translators Association. Miami, Florida, USA.

 

2015 Video Game Conferences

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An updated list of upcoming video game industry conferences for 2015, around the globe. Please feel free to contact us if you know of other conferences that you do not see listed here!

 

January 6-9, 2015: CES 2015, Las Vegas Hilton & Casino, Las Vegas, NV, USA

January 13-14, 2015: Pocket Gamer Connects London, Vinopolis, London, UK

January 19, 2015: NexGen Developers Day, London, UK

January 19-21, 2015: MGF London, 155 Bishopsgate, London, UK

January 22-25, 2015: Central European Games Conference, Vienna, Austria

January 23-25, 2015: PAX South 2015, Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio, TX, USA

January 23-25, 2015: Global Game Jam 2015, Worldwide

January 28, 2015: GameDevHacker: Past Trends and Future Bets, Microsoft Corporation, NYC, USA

January 28-February 1, 2015: Taipei Game Show 2015, Taipei World Trade Center, Taipei, Taiwan

February 3-5, 2015: ICE Totally Gaming 2015, ExCel London, London, UK

February 3-5, 2015: D.I.C.E. Summit 2015, Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, NV, USA

February 3-5, 2015: GameOn-Arabia ‘2015, Arab Open University, Muscat, Oman

February 4-6, 2015: Casual Connect Europe 2015, Beurs Van Berlage, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

February 9-10, 2015: Winter Nights Mobile Games Conference 2015, Park Inn Pulkovskaya Hotel, Saint Petersburg, Russia

February 9-13, 2015: Animex International Festival of Animation & Computer Games 2015, Teesside University, Middlesbrough, UK

February 13-15, 2015: IndieCade East 2015, Museum of the Moving Image, NYC, USA

February 15-17, 2015: Digital Kids Conference, Javits Convention Center, NYC, USA

February 27-March 1, 2015: i3D 2015 (ACM SIGGRAPH Symposium on Interactive 3D Graphics and Games), San Francisco, CA, USA

March 2-5, 2015: Mobile World Congress 2015, Fira Gran Via, Barcelona, Spain

March 2-5, 2015: Game Connection America 2015, City View at Metreon, San Francisco, CA, USA

March 2-6, 2015: GDC 2015, Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA, USA

March 4, 2015: Cartoon Games 2015, Centre de congrés de Lyon, Lyon, France

March 6-8, 2015: PAX East 2015, Boston Convention Center, Boston, MA, USA

March 12, 2015: PCR Awards 2015, Royal Garden Hotel, London, UK

March 12-14, 2015: EGX Rezzed 2015, Tobacco Dock, London, UK

March 13-17, 2015: SXSW Interactive 2015, Austin, TX, USA

March 13-15, 2015: SXSW Gaming 2015, Palmer Events Center, Austin, TX, USA

March 14, 2015: Futurefest 2015, Vinopolis, London, UK

March 16-20, 2015: CeBIT 2015, Messegelände, Hanover, Germany

March 17-20, 2015: GPU Technology Conference 2015, San Jose McEnery Convention Center, San Jose, CA, USA

March 17-20, 2015: NVScene, San Jose McEnery Convention Center, San Jose, CA, USA

May 11-12, 2015: Pocket Gamer Connects San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA

June 10-12, 2015: Mobile Gaming, USA, San Francisco, CA, USA

June 16-18, 2015: E3 2015, Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, CA, USA

August 11-13, 2015: Casual Connect, USA, San Francisco, CA, USA

September 7-8, 2015: Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

October 2-4, 2015: XPO, Cox Business Center, Tulsa, OK, USA

October 25-27, 2015: GDC China 2015, Shanghai, China

November 19-22, 2015: G-Star 2015 Global Game Exhibition, Busan, South Korea

 

Game Art Internationalization and Localization Interview with Lillian Lee

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Our latest installment of LocaLAIse This! takes a look at game localization from an artist standpoint. LAI’s Managing Director of China interviews Lillian Lee, our newest Game Art Localization Consultant with 12+ years in the industry. Lillian has served as an artist for AAA games such as The Darkness 2 and BioShock 2, and her expertise in Asian culture has been a tremendous asset in her work as an artist across studios, including Ubisoft and Red 5 Studios.

Below is the transcript of the interview content. Click here to listen. Enjoy!


Game Localization – Art [Featuring Lillian Lee, Game Art Localization Consultant, LAI Global Game Services]

 

Hello, everyone! Welcome back to LocaLAIse this. My name is Michelle Zhao, and I am the Managing Director for Greater China area here at LAI Global Game Services. Today we are very happy to introduce the newest member of our team, Lillian Lee. Lillian is a game artist and is truly an industry veteran. Now she is also working as an art localization specialist for us here at LAI Global Game Services.  So today we are featuring the artistic aspect of Game Localization. Let’s welcome Lillian.

 

Q: Lillian, do you mind simply introducing yourself? As I know, you have worked and lived in China for 8 years and North America for 5 years as a game artist.

A: Hi Everyone, my name is Lillian.  I joined the game industry back in 1999, and I have developed PC, web, mobile, console, and online games in China, the United States and Canada.

During my experience in different countries, I have met so many interesting people and made many projects that I am pretty proud of.

For example: the Virtual life series for PC back in 2000.

More recently: Bioshock 2, Darkness 2 are both console games I have worked on.

And the online sci-fi games: Firefall and Warframe which are still very popular in the current game market.

Q: Now my first question is: What do you find are the most interesting facts as a game industry professional who has worked in the two different cultures?

Well, let me think…I think people in different country’s development studios have different work attitudes and team structures.

 

1.     Work Attitudes
Usually, people in western studios are very creative and very thoughtful.  They have a tendency to dig deeply into a single asset, to focus on certain ideas and to be willing to put more time into lots of ideas. However, hard and creative work always consumes more time to complete, which can make the art design or production take longer than the original schedule.

 

On the other hand, people in eastern companies are more focused on making the product on time with ok quality. They usually do not focus so much on specific ideas. Their goals are to follow what they are told to do and work quickly and finish the work on time ….  so they might not think so much about the depth of content.

 

For example, a Western artist could spend one or two weeks to create an art item in the game while a Chinese game artist might only take 3 or 4 days for the same model.

 

Through this process, I realized that professional developers and artists look at details in different ways. They must be willing to adjust every tiny aspect when it is necessary. That is important when you are willing to make a world class game.

 

2.     Team Structures
In China, most game development teams are divided into very small groups.  For instance one environmental game art team will be made of many small sub-teams.  Each sub-team will contain 4 to 6 team members. So the whole team will have a top leader and several sub team leaders.

 

However in North America, the team organization structure is much flatter. One leader might oversee 15-30 team members.  That brings potential issues. One is that some junior guys might lack sufficient training or help. And, if this leader is not available or is away for a long time, the whole team may panic a little without direction or everyone could be waiting for him before proceeding with the next step. This can affect quality and time.

 

(Different cover art styles for the same game in different markets)

 

Q: It’s good to know those differences. As a game art veteran, could you give us some general tips on Art Internationalization/Localization (western vs. eastern examples)

(Different cover art styles for the same game in different markets)

A: Sure, I can give several tips here:

First, let’s talk about color: color can have different possible meanings to different cultures.

For example: In the west, the color red is considered an aggressive color that makes people think of blood, fire, and other scary elements. A Stop sign is red!! It makes you think of danger.

 

However, in China, red is considered a happy color that represents good elements in holidays especially like the Chinese New Year.  And also for traditional Chinese wedding dress.

 

(Chinese wedding)

To contrast that, let’s talk about the color white. As you know, that is a typical color for western wedding dresses. But in China, white is the color used for traditional funerals.

(Chinese traditional funeral clothes vs Western wedding)

So, we have to think very carefully about what colors are used when you are designing art for different cultures.

 

After that, let’s talk About the Shape:

Hmm, I’d like to use the dragon as a quick example.  The mental image that pops up when I say the word ‘dragon’ is different between western and eastern cultures.

In western tales, the dragon is often pictured as a dinosaur shaped animal. It is wild and scary, it is a fire-breathing monster!!

But, In the east, the dragon has more of an auspicious image. It’s usually a sign of power and good luck. So when you mention a game about dragons, the Chinese will never imagine the same type of dragon perceived in the western society.

In addition, some other things to consider are removing sensitive culture, religious, and political elements. You want to remove those culture tabooswhichmake your audience uncomfortable or could be potentially banned by the government.

(Dragons: East on the Left, West on the Right.)

Q: My next question is: Will certain Logo styles help to sell the game when people are searching on the App Store?

Yes!  That is for sure!!

Hmm, Logos are the first selling window of the game.  You need to make your game stand out quickly in the game logo ocean.   It is essential that you use some bright color and high contrast to draw the player’s attention, like a cute and beautiful style is always very welcome in China, or very unique design to be eye-catching. A good example is Minecraft’s logo matches the simple and unique art style and it blends nicely with the game.  This helps the game stand out visually compared to the other games in the market.

Bottom line, this logo is also part of your game, so it is very important to maintain the same art style and also convey the deep meaning to your game as well.

 

Do you have some additional tips for us in terms of UI and icon design?

A:  I think each game has its own unique style.  But a golden rule is that this style must be meaningful and make a connection to players in different cultures.  When I’m analyzing a game for art localization, I don’t just update the icon or UI with localized text, I dig deeper into why it should be changed and how it should be specifically designed to appeal to a certain target audience. In the meanwhile it must also still match the established style which comes from the original game.

Making a good UI design has so many aspects to it!  This is like asking the question, how do I become a millionaire?  The answer is, there are many paths to reach the same goal, however the same path is not appropriate for every game.

 

So here are a few tips:

  •  First, You’ll need to focus on your intended target audience group.  There’s not one simple solution to cover all situations. It’s a very creative process to customize a localized Logo and UI to the projected market.
  • Then, you have to know what kind of circumstance the player will be in when they are playing a particular game.  Will they play it at home or on the way to somewhere?

For example, in China, many mobile games are played on a shaking bus or metro train.  So, this will affect how they can use the icons and buttons.

It is better to design a simple game UI and icons that are not too complicated.  So:

  • The UI or icons should be designed to be very bright without too many small details or too colorful.  It is very easy to wear your eyes out during these moving conditions, and there are moments where it is hard for your fingers to press a button accurately.  People might get annoyed very quickly.

 

  • On the other side, all buttons should be easy to find. Most of the time, people are playing games just to relax and enjoy a little spare time. If the game screen is too busy, it’s hard to press precisely or even difficult to find where the button is.  If that happens, you will lose this player forever in just a few minutes.

 

All in all, it is very important to have a deep understanding of each particular game you are working on while doing the localization. This understanding will help you make better UI and icons that match the existing game as well as help to consolidate the whole game play experience!

 

Q: From your observation, what are the art style preferences in the different game markets you’ve worked for (west vs. east)?

 

A: In the Chinese market, the mainstream art style is cute and beautiful. However, in the West, we often find more varieties in art style.  So as a general rule, in China, people prefer only a very few particular art styles.

At the same time, we believe the definition of beauty also needs to be localized  For example: Shrek and Mulan. Those are popular cartoon images in US. However in China, people might consider they are not that pretty because of how they look. Shrek is neither cute, nor handsome. Many Chinese audiences don’t think Mulan in the Disney movie represents an Asian beauty in their eyes. Mulan is a very famous story in China, so people all expect that she should be very beautiful and brave.

(Mulan -Disney vs.a Chinese version)

(Mulan’s image from the Chinese movie Hua Mulan)

In China, many Chinese players find Japanese or Korean cartoon styles cute and perfectly beautiful characters very appealing.  The reason behind this is in China in earlier times, most players could not afford a gaming console and also it really was not accessible.  So many players have a long history of playing free Korean or Japanese online games or watching Japanese cartoon TV series.  People are quite familiar with those styles after so many years of exposure.

To help you visualize the art styles let me give you a few examples:

Japanese Games

  • SAGA2, Secret of Mana, and the very famous one: Final Fantasy series

Korean Game

  • Blade & Soul and AION.

Japanese Cartoons

  • Mobile Suit Gundam, Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball.

(A comparison between US and Japanese version of a very popular Japanese show)

Another significant group of popular games are ones themed in ancient Chinese history stories. These games are usually supported by the government because they are considered to carry forward history and culture. So those game themes and style are very popular in China as well.

 

Q: Last question: As a native Chinese speaker, what are your suggestions for a western game going into Chinese market?

A: Well, I know that in China, because the population is so huge, all public facilities including the transportation system are crowded. Waiting in queues is very common in everyday life. In the larger cities, people will consistently spend one or two hours commuting.  While waiting in the queue or transferring to the bus or metro, people play games to make this time more enjoyable. It’s important to design mobile game modes around these typical settings.

Here are few tips:

  1. The game is not very complicated.  It should be very easy to handle in just a few minutes from the start.
  2. The game has an on-hold function.  This allows players to easily get into and out of the game for a short time. Like getting off the bus or getting on the bus.
  3. With slow or limited internet access during commute or waiting time, people can still play certain social or online games without noticing the poor connection.
  4. The game could do better if they connected with Chinese social media like Weibo, Renren or Wechat. Which helps the players in their own social circle to play the game and communicate all the time.
  5. In China game playing is very limited to a certain group of people.  A majority of the players are in the age range of 6-28 years old. This demographic has a high impact on the desired art style – cute and beautiful, which makes the popular art style lean towards a younger crowd.
  • On the other side, because of the population size, people in China are highly competitive. This is seen through how they compare their social status with each other through their cars, clothing, and even games.  When it comes to games what matters most is who has the better weapons, armors, scores, and even nicer in-game skins.
  • Games will need to offer possible functions like a ranking list, different item levels, different skin styles, armor, and special items to purchase.
  • Oh, I have to mention this: Showing off is really an important ability to lot of Chinese game players. That is the whole reason why free to play online games are so popular! There is a new word:  Chinese pronunciation:土豪 (English meaning: The new money or newly rich),those people are establishing their online virtual social status by buying so many expensive and super cool weapons or skins. Yeah, I know it sounds quite crazy, but it is a true phenomena really happening everyday In China’s game world.

Oh, don’t forget, In China, obeying government policy is very vital because if a game contains porn, violence, or bloody content, it will be permanently banned.

(Final Fantasy art style is viewed as perfectly beautiful in many Asian eyes.)

Conclusion

All in all, think deeply and carefully about the following questions when you are considering localizing a western game for the Chinese market:

  1. Who are the major players you are aiming for?
  2. What are their game play habits?
  3. What does their lifestyle look like?
  4. What are their favorite images, styles, stories and game prototypes?
  5. What are their game consumption habits?
  6. What type of game design would players play for one day? One week? One month? One year or even longer?
  7. How do you want to build user retention within a game?

Once you can clearly answer all of these questions, I think you are good to go!

 

Lillian, Thank you very much for joining us and sharing your tips and experience about Art Localization today. We’ve learned a lot from you about art design in the east and west, and Does and Don’ts while East Meets West.

For our podcast followers, thanks for listening. We hope you find today’s podcast interesting and useful. If you have any questions or comments, please contact us by emails. Our email address is info@lai.com

 

Thanks again, we will see you soon.

 

 

关注主机游戏:中国上海自贸区文化市场开放细则

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1月初,中国政府解除了长达13年的游戏主机生产和销售禁令,给中国游戏市场未来注入一支新的兴奋剂。4月21日,上海市政府公布了《中国(上海)自由贸易试验区文化市场开放项目实施细则》。LAI在此转载,内容摘自上海市政府网站:

http://www.shanghai.gov.cn/shanghai/node2314/node2319/node12344/u26ai38861.html

英文版请查看:

Detailed Implementation Rules for Cultural Market Opening in the China (Shanghai) Free Trade Zone

市政府办公厅印发市文广影视局等制订的《中国(上海)自由贸易试验区文化市场开放项目实施细则》

沪府办发〔2014〕18号
上海市人民政府办公厅关于印发市文广影视局等五部门制订的《中国(上海)自由贸易试验区文化市场开放项目实施细则》的通知

各区、县人民政府,市政府各委、办、局:
市文广影视局、市工商局、市质量技监局、上海海关、中国(上海)自由贸易试验区管委会制订的《中国(上海)自由贸易试验区文化市场开放项目实施细则》已经市政府同意,现印发给你们,请认真按照执行。
上海市人民政府办公厅
2014年4月10日
中国(上海)自由贸易试验区文化市场开放项目实施细则


根据《国务院关于印发中国(上海)自由贸易试验区总体方案的通知》(国发〔2013〕38号)、《国务院关于在中国(上海)自由贸易试验区内暂时调整有关行政法规和国务院文件规定的行政审批或者准入特别管理措施的决定》(国发〔2013〕51号)和《文化部关于实施中国(上海)自由贸易试验区文化市场管理政策的通知》(文市发〔2013〕47号),制定本实施细则。
一、允许外资企业从事游戏游艺设备的生产和销售,通过文化主管部门内容审查的游戏游艺设备可面向国内市场销售。
(一)中国(上海)自由贸易试验区(以下简称“自贸试验区”)内取得工商部门核发的营业执照且营业执照经营范围载明“生产游戏游艺设备及销售其产品”的外商投资企业,可向市文广影视局申请内容审查。
(二)向国内市场销售的游戏游艺设备,应当具有合法知识产权,有利于传播科学、艺术、人文知识,有益于青少年健康成长。不得含有《娱乐场所管理条例》(国令〔2006〕458号)第十三条的禁止内容,不得含有押分、退币、退钢珠等赌博功能。设备外观、游戏内容、游戏方法说明应当使用我国通用语言文字。
(三)从事游戏游艺设备的生产和销售的外商投资企业申请内容审查时,应当提交预装游戏内容的游戏游艺设备和以下材料:

 


1.《游戏游艺机市场准入机型机种内容审核申请表》和《游戏游艺机产品内容审核材料登记表》;
2.企业营业执照复印件;
3.与游戏游艺内容相关的知识产权证明材料,包括该游戏游艺产品的知识产权证明文件或者该游戏游艺产品的知识产权授权文件;
4.游戏游艺设备中内容全过程的视频文件或者游戏游艺软件的视频演示(DEMO)文件,视频文件或者视频演示文件是指游戏游艺设备最终上市版本中的所有游戏游艺内容,包括不会在正常游戏进行过程中出现的内容的视频文件(以CD-ROM或DVD光盘为载体);
5.能够反映产品整体外观并与实际销售产品一致的电子图片,其中,一张正面图,两张侧面图,格式统一为“*.JPG”,图片分辨率不低于800×600;
6.游戏游艺使用的音频文件、名称列表和歌词的电子文本,电子文本应当是游戏游艺设备中使用的全部背景音乐、歌曲的名称列表、音频文件和歌词的中外文对照文本;
7.游戏游艺内容中全部对白、旁白、描述性文字以及操作说明的中外文电子文本;
8.为游戏游艺设备提供游戏游艺内容的方案,其中,在网络上为游戏游艺设备提供游戏内容的,应当提交提供游戏内容的企业的《网络文化经营许可证》。


(四)市文广影视局应当自受理申请之日起20个工作日内作出审批决定。符合规定条件的,出具《游戏游艺设备内容审核确认单》,并报文化部备案;不符合规定条件的,书面说明理由。
(五)外商投资企业取得《游戏游艺设备内容审核确认单》后,可以向国内市场销售其游戏游艺设备。游戏游艺设备的游戏游艺内容、机型、机种有升级、改版等实质性变更的,应当重新向市文广影视局申请内容审查。
(六)外商投资企业应当对其生产及销售的游戏游艺设备的产品质量负责,产品应当符合国家和本市有关标准和规定。在向国内市场销售的产品及其包装上,应当用中文标明产品名称、生产厂厂名和地址。
(七)向国内销售其游戏游艺设备的外商投资企业在办理游戏游艺设备内销手续时,除按照正常管理规定办理海关手续外,还应当向海关部门一并提交市文广影视局出具的《游戏游艺设备内容审核确认单》。
(八)在网络上为游戏游艺设备提供游戏内容的企业应当遵守文化部发布的《互联网文化管理暂行规定》、《网络游戏管理暂行办法》规定,取得《网络文化经营许可证》;游戏产品应当取得文化部的批准文件。通过其他途径为游戏游艺设备提供内容的按照国家有关规定执行。
(九)工商部门、质量技监部门和海关按照各自职能,行使相关管理职责。自贸试验区管理委员会(以下简称“自贸试验区管委会”)负责有关外资企业的日常监管。


二、取消外资演出经纪机构的股比限制,允许设立外商独资演出经纪机构,在上海市行政区域内提供服务。
(一)自贸试验区内取得工商部门核发的营业执照的外商投资企业,可向市文广影视局申请演出经纪机构《营业性演出许可证》和演出场所经营单位备案证明。其中,设立合资、合作演出经纪机构和演出场所,不受外国投资者的外资股比限制。
(二)外商投资演出经纪机构申请《营业性演出许可证》的,应当提交以下材料:
1.《设立演出经纪机构申请登记表》;
2.企业营业执照复印件;
3.3名以上专职演出经纪人员的资格证书。
(三)市文广影视局自受理申请之日起20个工作日内作出审批决定。准予许可的,核发《营业性演出许可证》;不予许可的,书面说明理由。
(四)外商投资企业在自贸试验区服务贸易区域内设立演出场所的,应当自取得营业执照之日起20个工作日内,向市文广影视局申请备案,并提交以下材料:
1.《演出场所经营单位备案表》;
2.企业营业执照复印件;
3.消防、卫生等行政管理部门的批准文件复印件;
4.演出场所的方位图与内部平面图。
(五)自贸试验区内依法设立的演出经纪机构举办营业性演出活动的,按照下列规定办理:
1.在自贸试验区内举办营业性演出的,应当向自贸试验区管委会提出申请。其中,对举办国内文艺表演团体与演员参加的营业性演出的,自贸试验区管委会应当自受理申请之日起3个工作日内作出决定。对举办涉外及涉港澳台营业性演出的,自贸试验区管委会应当自受理申请之日起20个工作日内作出决定。
2.在自贸试验区外、上海市行政区域内举办涉外或涉港澳台营业性演出的,应当向市文广影视局提出申请,市文广影视局应当自受理申请之日起20个工作日内作出决定。举办国内文艺表演团体与演员参加的营业性演出的,应当向演出举办所在地的区(县)文化行政部门提出申请,区(县)文化行政部门应当自受理申请之日起3个工作日内作出决定。
(六)自贸试验区内依法设立的演出场所在本场所内举办营业性演出的,应当向自贸试验区管委会提出申请,自贸试验区管委会应当自受理申请之日起3个工作日内作出决定。
三、允许设立外商独资的娱乐场所,在自贸试验区内提供服务。
(一)自贸试验区内取得工商部门核发的营业执照的外商投资企业,可向自贸试验区管委会申请《娱乐经营许可证》。外商投资娱乐场所在筹建阶段,可向自贸试验区管委会咨询,自贸试验区管委会应当依法为外资企业提供指导。
(二)外商投资企业在自贸试验区服务贸易区域内设立娱乐场所的,应当符合《娱乐场所管理条例》(国令〔2006〕458号)、《娱乐场所管理办法》(文化部令〔2013〕55号)等法规、规章规定的设立条件,并向自贸试验区管委会提交相关申请材料。自贸试验区管委会自受理申请之日起20个工作日内作出决定。准予许可的,核发《娱乐经营许可证》;不予许可的,书面说明理由。


四、外商投资企业从事游戏游艺设备生产和销售情况、外商投资演出经纪机构、演出场所、娱乐场所的经营活动情况,纳入上海文化市场经营主体诚信管理体系。
五、香港特别行政区、澳门特别行政区、台湾地区投资者和在国外居住的中国公民在自贸试验区内设立企业从事游戏游艺设备生产和销售、设立演出经纪机构、演出场所和娱乐场所的,适用本实施细则。
六、本实施细则自印发之日起施行。
上海市文化广播影视管理局
上海市工商行政管理局
上海市质量技术监督局
中华人民共和国上海海关
中国(上海)自由贸易试验区管理委员会
2014年3月31日

Detailed Implementation Rules for Cultural Market Opening in the China (Shanghai) Free Trade Zone

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In January 2014, China lifted a thirteen-year ban on the sale and manufacture of gaming consoles. This has generated great excitement about the future of the video game industry in China. On April 21, the government of Shanghai announced Detailed Implementation Rules for Cultural Market Opening in the China (Shanghai) Free Trade Zone. As many of us interested to see the content in English, LAI translated its Chinese version [1] from the Shanghai municipal government website.

Translator: Chung-Kuan John Chen

Editor: Michelle Zhao

Detailed Implementation Rules for Cultural Market Opening in the China (Shanghai) Free Trade Zone

These Implementation Rules have been written in accordance with the State Council’s Notice on Releasing the Comprehensive Plan for the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, the State Council’s Decision to Temporarily Adjust Relevant Administrative Laws and State Council Regulated Special Administrative Measures for Approval or Access in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, and the Ministry of Culture’s Notice on Implementing Cultural Market Management Policies in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone.

I. Foreign-invested enterprises may engage in the production and sales of game and entertainment devices. Game and entertainment devices may be sold to the domestic market after passing content review by the relevant authorities.

 

(I) Foreign-invested enterprises that have obtained licenses from the commercial authorities in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone (hereafter known as the Pilot FTZ), and whose licenses state that their business includes “manufacturing and selling game and entertainment products,” may submit their products to content review by the Municipal Administration of Culture, Radio, Film, and TV.

 

(II) Game and entertainment devices and related products sold in the domestic market should not infringe on intellectual property rights, and should aid in the dissemination of scientific, artistic, and cultural knowledge, benefiting the healthy development of young people. Products may not contain content banned by Article 13 of the Entertainment Venue Management Law, nor may they allow for point betting, coin return, token return, or other gambling features. Text on the product itself, in games, and in instructions should be in the Chinese language.

(III) Foreign-invested enterprises engaged in the manufacture and sales of game consoles should submit the following documents along with physical copies of the product pre-loaded with the game content when applying for content review:

 

1. The Application Form for Content Review for Game Console Market Access and the Game Console Content Review Document Checklist.

2. A photocopy of the company’s business license.

3. Documents to prove that the game and entertainment device and any game content complies with intellectual property laws, including proof of intellectual property ownership or licensing.

4. Video files or demonstrations of all video content contained within the product. This refers to all content in the final retail version of the product, including video content that does not appear in normal game play. (Files should be submitted on CD-ROM or DVD.)

5. Electronic images that reflect and match the final retail version of the product. There should be one image of the product’s front and two of the product’s sides. The images should be submitted in JPG format with a resolution no lower than 800×600 pixels.

 

6. Audio files of background music and songs contained in the product, as well as song title lists and electronic text files of lyrics in both Chinese and foreign-language versions.

7. Electronic text of all dialogue, narration, descriptions, and instructions in the product, in Chinese and foreign-language versions.

8. A plan to provide content for the game device. If the plan involves providing content online, Online Cultural Operations Licenses for content providers should also be submitted.

(IV) The Municipal Administration of Culture, Radio, Film, and TV should reach a decision in its review within 20 workdays of the application being received. Products that pass the review will receive a Game Device Content Review Confirmation Form, which will also be filed with the Ministry of Culture. Products that do not pass the review will receive a written explanation of the reasons.

 

(V) After the foreign-invested enterprise receives the Game Device Content Review Confirmation Form, it may begin selling its game and entertainment console in the domestic market. If there are changes or upgrades in the product’s content, model, or make, the product should undergo another content review by the Municipal Administration of Culture, Radio, Film, and TV.

 

(VI) The foreign-invested enterprise is responsible for ensuring the quality of the game device it manufactures and sells. The product should adhere to all relevant standards and rules set by the central and municipal government. All products sold on the domestic market should carry the product name, manufacturer name, and manufacturer address in Chinese on both the product itself and the packaging.

 

(VII) Foreign-invested enterprises which sell game devices to the domestic market should submit a copy of the Game Device Content Review Confirmation Form to customs in addition to the usual customs procedures.

 

(VIII) Companies that supply content for game devices online should obtain an Online Cultural Operation License in accordance with the regulations set out by the Ministry of Culture in the Provisional Rules for Cultural Management on the Internet and the Provisional Guidelines for Managing Online Games. All game products should be licensed by the Ministry of Culture. Companies that supply content through other means should also follow relevant regulations.

 

(IX) Commercial, quality supervision, and customs authorities should administer their respective duties in regulating these foreign-invested enterprises. The Pilot Free Trade Zone Administrative Committee (hereafter known as the Administrative Committee) will be responsible for the day-to-day supervision of relevant foreign-invested enterprises.

II. Equity ratio restrictions are abolished for foreign-invested entertainment artists’  agencies. The establishment of wholly owned foreign entertainment artists’ agencies are now permitted, and they may provide services within the municipality of Shanghai.

 

(I) Foreign-invested enterprises in the Pilot FTZ that have obtained business licenses from the commercial authorities may apply for a commercial performance license for entertainment artists’ agencies and performance venue operator certificate from the Municipal Administration of Culture, Radio, Film, and TV.  Foreign shareholder equity ratio restrictions do not apply to jointly owned or collaborative entertainment artists’ agencies and performance venues.

 

(II) Foreign-invested entertainment artists’ agencies that wish to apply for a commercial performance license should submit the following documents:

 

1.  The Entertainment Artists’ Agency Establishment Application Form.

2. A photocopy of the company’s business license.

3. Certificates for at least 3 entertainment agents working full-time at the agency.

 

(III) The Municipal Administration of Culture, Radio, Film, and TV should reach a decision in its review within 20 workdays of the application being received. Agencies that pass the review will receive a commercial performance license. Agencies that do not pass the review will receive a written explanation of the reasons.

(IV) Foreign-invested enterprises that wish to establish performance venues in the Pilot FTZ’s service trade sector should file with the Bureau of Culture, Radio, Film, and TV within 20 workdays of obtaining their business license. The following documents should be submitted:

 

1. The Performance Venue Operator Filing Form.

2. A photocopy of the company’s business license.

3. Photocopies of approval documents from the fire safety and public health authorities.

4. Maps and interior plans of the performance venue.

 

(V) Legally established entertainment artists’ agencies in the Pilot FTZ that organize commercial performances should adhere to the following regulations:

 

1. Commercial performances in the Pilot FTZ require the approval of the Administrative Committee. For performances by domestic groups and artists, the Administrative Committee should reach a decision within 3 workdays of the request; for performances involving groups or artists from foreign countries, Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan, the Administrative Committee should reach a decision within 20 workdays of the request.

2. Commercial performances involving groups or artists from foreign countries, Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan require the approval of the Bureau of Culture, Radio, Film, and TV. The Bureau should reach a decision within 20 workdays of the request. Commercial performances by domestic groups or artists require the approval of the cultural authority of the district or county in which the performance takes place. The authority should reach a decision within 3 workdays of the request.

 

(VI) Commercial performances in performance venues legally established in the Pilot FTZ require the approval of the Administrative Committee. The Administrative Committee should reach a decision within 3 workdays of the request

 

III. Wholly-owned foreign entertainment venues may provide services in the Pilot FTZ.

 

(I) Foreign-invested enterprises in the Pilot FTZ that have obtained business licenses from the commercial authorities may apply for an entertainment operation license from the Administrative Committee. During the planning and construction stages, the enterprise may consult with the Administrative Committee.  The Committee should provide guidance according to relevant laws and regulations.

 

(II) Foreign-invested enterprises that wish to establish entertainment venues in the Pilot FTZ should fulfill the conditions as set by laws and regulations including the Entertainment Venue Management Law and the Entertainment Venue Management Rules. The Administrative Committee should reach a decision within 20 workdays of the request for approval.  Enterprises that receive approval will receive an entertainment operation license. Enterprises that do not receive approval will receive a written explanation of the reasons.

 

IV. The manufacturing and sale of game and entertainment devices by foreign-invested enterprises, as well as the operations of foreign-invested entertainment artists’ agencies, performance venues, and entertainment venues, will be part of the integrity management system of the Shanghai cultural market.

 

V. These rules also apply to investors from the Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan region, as well as Chinese citizens from overseas, who wish to establish enterprises in the Pilot FTZ to manufacture and sell game and entertainment consoles or establish entertainment artists’ agencies, performance venues, and entertainment venues.

 

VI. These rules come into force starting on the day of public release.

 

Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Culture, Radio, Film, and TV

Shanghai Administration for Industry and Commerce

Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision

People’s Republic of China Shanghai Customs

China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone Administrative Committee



[1] http://www.shanghai.gov.cn/shanghai/node2314/node2319/node12344/u26ai38861.html