4 tips for a better android localization

December 21st, 2016

Localization often has a big impact on the performance (downloads, store rankings & ratings, user retention,…) of your app or game. In this blog post I am providing some tips & tricks for an optimization of your localization strategy.

Many gamers still prefer to play a game in their native language; not supporting it or not implementing localization in the best possible way can therefore be a reason for not downloading the game. The following 4 tips provide some best practices:

1. Choose the right translation service

As an indie developer you are without any doubt on a tight budget. Clearly you want think twice about any investment. Every penny that you save you can spend on something else. While Google and other sites do provide very useful automatic translation services I do recommend to not use any of these services. Very likely you risk to end up with an incorrect translation that does not make any sense to the player.

A good translator does not need to cost a lot, but it will make a big difference to your players. Many of my games have been professionally translated for around EUR 50 (USD 55) per language. As a result I was able to accumulate higher download numbers and better ratings in various countries.

2. Localize everything

There is a lot more to localization than just translating the game text. Firstly, you should not forget about your marketplace text, icons and screenshots. They are the first impression that your game gives to its potential players. They can better be good.

Google Play localization recommendationsGoogle Play recommended actions on Localization

For some games it is also recommended to localize some of the image assets. Every culture is different and the players may not always feel fully connected with the looks of your characters, buildings, trees, …

Note that the localization of image assets is a much bigger investment than text localization. Both the creation of the image assets as well as the development and testing requires a lot of time. It is best to think through first whether your game can benefit from image asset localization.

Bonus Tip: Try localizing your press releases. The journalist who you are trying to convince about your game will appreciate it a lot.

3. Use the device language

An app or game that automatically detects the device language will provide the best user experience. No extra work for this is required if the default android localization mechanism is used.

Many localization plugins in the Unity Asset Store do have a more generic implementation and may not automatically detect the device language.

In this case you can very easily detect the device language yourself, using the following line of code:

string language = UnityEngine.Application.systemLanguage.ToString();

Unity documentation provides an overview of the supported languages.

You will still need to load the correct localization assets based on the returned value, but this will be a plugin specific implementation.

4. Google should be able to detect the supported languages

Typically a localized app or game will score better on ASO, resulting in higher download numbers. However, Google will fail to detect the supported languages if your implementation is not based on the standard Android localization mechanism.

The reason for this is that Google tries to automatically detect the supported languages in the APK at the moment when the file is uploaded to the play store. Of course it is only able to correctly detect this if the standard android localization mechanism is used.

"GoogleGoogle Play APK localization detection

In a previous blog post I explain how to handle a correct localization of unity android games.

Conclusion

Localization is in many ways important to your app or game. If done correctly it provides a better user experience, results in more downloads, and will contribute to your ASO. The 4 tips that I have provided are recommended best practices, but your app or game is unique. It may also benefit from other things related to localization.

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