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Localization is the adaptation of products for foreign markets. It encompasses translations into foreign languages, taking technical requirements into account, and altering content to meet local restrictions.
Tasks of Localization
Localization teams have a variety of tasks ahead of them. First, most if not all of the text read in the game might need to be rewritten in another language. Although literal translations were once common, these so-called "dumb" translations have been ridiculed, and today have been largely replaced by more elaborate translations that alter dialogue to fit local customs and mannerisms.
The strict regulation of games in some territories may make it necessary to edit or alter various in-game graphics and sounds.
Most games made by Nintendo and Sega are written and made with the Japanese audience in mind, even as the foreign market has grown dramatically over the past two decades. The same applies to other Japanese companies, such as Capcom and Square. Meanwhile, most American companies such as Electronic Arts and Activision make games with American-English speaking audiences in mind.
Today, Nintendo translates their games into a number of languages. Most games are released in Japanese, English, French, Spanish, and German. Many, but not all of Nintendo's games are translated into Korean, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, Czech, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Italian, Polish, Greek, Russian, Hungarian and Turkish. However, these countries' translations are usually simple subtitles rather than a full voice-over. That said, the lack of voice acting in many Nintendo games makes this of minor consequence, though sometimes more niche or text-heavy games might not be deemed worthy of translation.
Sega has a similar policy as Nintendo when translating games. Although many games are made in Japanese, English, Spanish, French, German and Portuguese translations are common. However, since Sega lacks offices in several European countries where Nintendo is present, there are few Scandinavian, Polish, Hungarian, or Greek translations of Sega games, though there are Hindi translations of games thanks to Sega's South Asian presence.
Most major third parties at least release their games in English, Japanese, Spanish, French, and German, thus covering a majority of the world's gaming market. Companies based in other parts of the world will also release games in local languages.