A Game Developer’s Guide to Localizing Games for the Italian Market

Guest Reporter

Italy’s gaming community grew to historic size in 2020, as the pandemic led Italians to spend an average of eight hours per week playing video games (up by half an hour on 2019). The video game market in Italy is now generating more than €2 billion in turnover, reflecting growth of 21.9% between 2019 and 2020.


This presents a significant opportunity for video game developers. For those who want to be successful in the Italian video game market, understanding the need to localize games, as well as translate them, is fundamental.

What makes translating and localizing different in game development?

Translating a video game is all about language. For a successful English to Italian translation, you’ll need to know things like: How do I say OK in Italian? (It’s “Va bene”, since you’re asking, though “OK” is also increasingly used in Italy.)


Localization, on the other hand, is about adapting the game so that players feel it was made for their particular country or region. That means focusing on the user experience rather than just the language used. Are menu buttons in the expected place? Will any popular culture references resonate with Italian players? Localization looks at all of this and more.


Developers who want their games to enjoy maximum success in the Italian market will need to localize their games as well as arrange the Italian translation of them. Only by combining English to Italian translation with expert localization can they ensure they make the desired impact on Italian gamers.

Managing a video game localization project

For those who have never worked on a game localization project, it’s important to understand the process, timescales and complexities involved. Calling in game localization experts is key (see below for tips on how to get the best out of working with them).


Also essential is understanding that localization is not a single task. It’s a project that requires careful project management and thought around the importance of project milestones as part of the process.

What does Italian video game localization involve?

Key to successful English to Italian translation and localization is finding the right Italian translation services to work with. Providers of English to Italian translation services who are active in the video game space will be able to provide end-to-end support, from planning the project through to launch. They will have all the necessary localization kit and will also be able to help developers with additional tasks such as marketing campaigns, to maximise the game’s chances of success.


On the technical side, to support the English to Italian translation of the game’s dialogue and other text, the localization team will take care of exporting and importing the coding and strings and will evaluate in partnership with the developer whether they need to translate the non-text-based elements.


The localization team will assign the English to Italian translation to one or more suitably experienced translators, depending on the size of the project. The translation, like the rest of the localization work, will be managed through a project management system that provides the developer with a clear view of progress.


All Italian translation services worth their salt will also undertake quality assurance work. This reviews the quality of both the language and the localization of the game. From a developer’s perspective, the game’s launch timeline needs to allow for this process, as well as for any remedial work that needs to be undertaken as a result of the quality assurance checks.

Tips for working with Italian game localization experts

Working with an English to Italian translation company with experience of video game localization means developers can enjoy having a wealth of expertise at their fingertips. To make the most of that expertise, it’s important to open dialogue with the translation company at an early stage. The company will need to assign suitable linguists, localization experts and project management staff to the job, so the more warning they can have of when work needs to begin, the better.


Another tip for developers – particularly those who haven’t localized a game before – is to speak to the localization company at an early stage about timescales. Localization is a complex process, so it’s important to have an open conversation about how long it will take, rather than making any assumptions.


Video game developers also need to consider the scope of their project brief. Is the English to Italian translation and localization work solely focused on the game itself and the player experience? What about packaging, app store descriptions, website and email promotions and so on? Tagging jobs like this onto the scope in the middle of the project, rather than providing a comprehensive brief at the outset, is far from ideal. It can result in an irritated localization team and timescales that begin to creep backwards, which can have a knock-on effect on the entire launch schedule.

Applying English to Italian translation lessons elsewhere

For developers who take on the Italian video game market, the potential gains are not limited to Italy alone. Whether it is English to Italian translation or translation to any other language, the localization process and the way the project is managed will remain broadly the same. This means that video game developers who have undergone the experience of localizing a game for the Italian market will be well positioned to do the same for other markets around the world.


This experience opens up the global gaming marketplace like never before. And what a marketplace it is. It has been estimated that the global gaming industry will be worth $321 billion by 2026. That means plenty of opportunities for developers to connect with gamers in new countries, as well as the opportunities that the continuing evolution of gaming platforms and associated technologies present. The market place is, quite simply, massive, so learning to localize a game for players in one country and then transferring that experience to others can enable developers to reap big rewards.


Today Italy, tomorrow the world!

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