The Inner Workings Of Capcom’s Localization Department

By Ishaan . August 2, 2011 . 9:01am

Over on the company’s community site, Capcom Director of Localization, Peter Fabiano, has written a blog post detailing how he runs Capcom’s localization department and some of the challenges faced during the localization process. He also touches upon what Capcom expect of the people they hire to work with their localization group.


Fabiano says that the localization team at Capcom’s Osaka headquarters is part of R&D. “We try to integrate the production teams and get them to understand the importance of taking their games and adapting them for the foreign markets,” he writes. “We need to go beyond general text translation and provide them with information that is beneficial to creating a game that is relevant to the target users. Due to a number of internal and cultural factors, this can be quite challenging.”


Fabiano also discusses the size of the company’s localization team. “The Localization Team consists of about 30 people split into 2 main groups: Localization and Communications,” he reveals. “The Communications Team has a number of functions, but in general, they are in charge of ensuring that teams are in sync with each other and with our overseas partners by providing necessary information to relevant parties.”


The rest of the localization team consists of 5 Project Leads, 2 English Editors, 10 European Localization Experts, and 2 Japanese Localization Coordinators. In the case of some projects, project leads are placed on the project team to help make a game feel like it was developed with overseas audiences in mind. Feedback is provided to the development team on script, UI, design and so on. In the case of Marvel vs. Capcom 3, for example, English text was the main focus, with Japanese written afterwards.


As far as being hired is concerned, Fabiano writes: “If you want to be a localization expert, then I suggest studying writing and Japanese. Take courses at school that focus on literature and writing, for example. We ask for writing samples and have a trial exam that we require from all applicants. Being well read also helps, because the subjects of the texts we translate run the gamut from science to literature, history to philosophy.”


You can read the full post over at Capcom’s community site, linked to above.

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  • FStubbs

    I’d really like to know why Ace Attorney 2 isn’t deemed worth localizing.

    • The I heard the first one sold REALLY bad, I guess compared to the rest of the series. Bad sales numbers aren`t good, and in most cases you can forget about sequels coming out for it.

      • Hours

        Ace Attorney Investigations did not sell badly, it sold comparable to Apollo Justice in the US. I don’t know where this rumor got started.

        Anyway, I hope Capcom USA does decide to release AAI2. Sven said they are still looking into it and are discussing possibilities.

    • Yesshua

      Because the first one sold approx 170,000 copies in the US, and 130,000 in Europe.  Those are not good numbers.  Those are disastrously bad numbers.  That’s why.

      • Hmm… those are actually some pretty good numbers for a game like this. I wonder, though, how many of them were full-price purchases? I got it when it hit $20, making me part of the problem.

        • No, they’re not.

          SPECIALLY for a game like this.

          An “Ace Attorney” game has a TON of text.

          And localization costs are always measured by the number of words the game has, not by it’s other development costs. In other words, even if it was an 8-bit game, the localization costs would still be big.

          And localization is expensive, so when you have numbers like those, companies having second thoughts is just natural. Specially after 4 games which each entry sold less than the previous one.

          • Wanna know a good reason behind the low sales of Investigations, at least in Europe?

            The four previous games were translated to all languages (english, french, german, spanish, italian, etc). This was because Nintendo was the one behind the localization.
            Then they left the localization of Investigations to Capcom. What was the result? FULL ENGLISH FOR ALL EUROPE. With a game with so much text, it´s like a suicide. I live in Spain and I couldn´t even count the number of fans of Ace Attorney who said “If they won´t release it in spanish, forget about it”, and I guess the same happened in other countries.

            Capcom excused themselves comparing the sales of Investigations with a more recent game, Okamiden, that wasn´t multi-translated too, without even thinking that the fanbases of Okami and Ace Attorney are totally different and unrelated… and that the fans of Okami must know english already, SINCE THEY DIDN´T BOTHER MULTITRANSLATING IT ON PS2 OR EVEN WII, EVEN WITH A FAN COMMUNITY WHO HAD ALREADY TRANSLATED THE GAME AND WAS OFFERING THE TRANSLATION TO THEM.

          • Aoshi00

            I read that Edgeworth is called Benjamin Hunter in French, which I found to be pretty weird since he’s just Miles Edgeworth in all the other ver like Spanish, German, or Italian (of course in Jpn original he’s Mitsurugi) and that name isn’t even French.. but it’s interesting to see the chars’ different names in the other languages.. I’m only familiar w/ the Jpn/Eng names..

            The Japanese trilogy had dual language (Jpn/Eng) but Apollo Justice/AAI 1/2 only had one language in each ver..

          • Eeer… No.

            Nintendo didn’t translate the “Ace Attorney” games. At all.

            What Nintendo did do was to convince Capcom to translate the games to Spanish an Italian, since it was their condition to publish the game in Europe.

            But the localization process was made by Capcom themselves.

            And Capcom couldn’t use the fan community translation and put it as the official in the game without unleashing hell.

          • (reply to David Garcia Abril)

            Oh, I should have guessed that about the localization, sorry… but it doesn´t excuse them from not translating Investigations, in fact it means that if it wasn´t for Nintendo, Capcom wouldn´t have bothered to translate any of the games.

          • Tom_Phoenix

            I am sorry, but I have to ask….isn’t the actual programming and coding the hardest and most expensive part of the process? 

            While it definitely isn’t simple or quick, I don’t see how the translation itself could be an expensive process unless translators are payed high salaries.

          • Yes, programming is the most expensive part.

            But that doesn’t mean translating is cheap.

            Besides, unlike localization, if you don’t have programming, you don’t have the game at all, so they cannot be compared in terms of “what can I put and what I can’t”.

            And about salaries, it depends on the language you translate from. If it is from Japanese, yes, the salaries are pretty high.

            But that’s because Japanese is such a difficult language to master that there are very few people that are good enough.

            And another thing is time. Translating, or rather, translating RIGHT, is very time consuming and the process can go for months. That only makes things more expensive.

            And finally, translators are not the only people involved in localization. Not by a long shot. As Fabiano explains, you have communication people and QA people.

            That’s another key point. In video games you can’t translate the text and call it a day. You just can’t. You have to test it, and that’s probably the part that makes video game localization such a long process.

    • Tom_Phoenix

      Apparently, they don’t think the sales of the game would justify the cost of localisation.

    • FireCouch

      Because the demands of Siliconera readers =/= the demand of the united states.

  • “How do we run our localization dept?  Simple.  We don’t!”

    *Money and untranslated copies of Ace Attorney Investigations 2 & Last Ranker rain from the sky*

    • DanteJones

      I laughed. Then cried.

    • I laughed… A lot ! :D

      PS : I completely forgot The Last Ranker :o

    • Aoshi00

      It’s really a pity AAI 2 is not being brought over here, especially given the stellar localization of the series sans some careless typos (guess it was too long to proof read?).. I really like it much better than the first Investigation game.. a very good conclusion for the Edgeworth story.. before I always take it for granted, like importing is just getting to play it 9 months or 1 year early and then the US ver would be out…

  • Rival School – United by Fate’s translation was crappy.

  • RagnaXBL

    So what happened to MHP3? some issues with Sony they say? BALONEY!

  • I’ve been reminded that Ace Attorney Investigations 2 wasn’t localized. Now I feel sad and hope that the internet will provide a hacked fan-translation like it did for Mother 3.

  • And yet fans seems to translate games faster than the companies.

    • Trust me, they don’t. Not by a long shot.

      What they do is to decide to start the localization way earlier.

  • Yeesh. That’s an awfully bloated localization branch considering their output.

  • Sucks we won’t get Investigations 2 and Last Ranker.  As long as there’s a good ratio of titles coming I can forgive them but it is upsetting when it happens.

  • epy

    Funny how they are trying to reach out to fans with this info but they are just making us sadder. Putting a pic of Ace Attorney Investigations was like adding salt to the wound.

  • dahuuuundge

    Capcom still did a sloppy job when they localized the Battle Network series. So some contents are cut, and certain areas are entirely removed. I prefer character’s Japanese names than their pun-tastic English counterpart.

  • Capcom is one of the companies I would like to try my luck with once I know enough Japanese. I have more than enough experience for trying to be a localization expert, after all.

    Although in my case it will be for Spanish, which localizations still tend to be kinda sloppy in some Capcom games.

  • Guest

    IMHO, I wish game companies would stop having their translators do double duty as localization editors (can’t tell whether Capcom actually does that).  Recently I’m seeing more and more games where it seems like the editors just took a rote translation of the Japanese and plugged it into the final product without any regard for how it sounds in normal English.

    • Well, a translator MUST be a localization editor.

      Even if a localization member has the sole role of editor, you can bet your ass he is a translator too, and has taken that role in the past for quite some time. You just can’t be a good translator if you are not first at least a decent writer in your native language.

      Most of the time, when a translation sounds horrible, it’s not because the translator is a bad writter. It can be for a million reasons: they didn’t have the game context, they didn’t have time to review the translation and improve it, the text didn’t have a QA…

      And yes, sometimes, and only sometimes, it’s because the translator is not a good writer. That tends to happen when the company hires cheap translators and/or guys that are just out of college and don’t know any better for the sake of saving costs. But in localization, as in EVERYTHING else, a good performance has a price.

      • Guest

        Yes, but if you’re going to have an editor and a translator, (which you really should, just because no one should ever be their own editor), it’s much easier/cheaper to find and hire an editor who’s simply a good writer.  Finding someone who’s fluent in Japanese AND who knows how to write well is much more difficult, and it’s not always necessary.  The insistence that the editor be both is what can lead to the bizarro Engrish dialogue or totally out-of-place humor we see in certain localizations.

        In a perfect world everyone who works on a project would be bilingual in the original and target languages.  However, when companies are on a budget and have to choose between a mediocre bilingual writer or a very good monolingual one, they should choose the monolingual writer to do the script adaptation. 

        If a localization is poorly written, it doesn’t matter how faithful the translation is to the original.  I’m probably in the minority here, but I’d much prefer a well written game that takes heavy liberties with the original dialogue than I would a game that’s slavishly faithful but that reads like it was translated by AltaVista.

        • I’ll say it again: If you are not a good writter, you CAN’T be a good translator.

          It’s true that no one should ever be their own editor, but that’s just for the sake of detecting errors, not for good writting (although it helps).

          And you can’t have a monoligual editor. That just wouldn’t work.

          If the editor doesn’t know the original language… how is he gonna know when he changes the meaning of the sentence altogether?

          And I’m not talking about script or cultural fidelity here. I’m talking about changing the game information, which MUST be faithful in order to not confusing the player about what he must do to keep going in the game.

          Seriously man, the reasons why a translation might sound bad in a proffesional work are waaaaay more complicated than that.

  • mikedo2007

    hm interesting article and I wonder if this is how Capcom does this for the Grand Theft Auto series and God of War series (before Sony now handle God of War 3 translations and so on) for Japanese release? 

  • blah blah

    Peter Fabiano, most fabulous name I’ve heard in a long time.

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