Former XSEED Employee Runs Through The Costs Of Localization

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There have been a number of Kickstarter campaigns to fund the localization of various Japanese games. Muv-Luv is one of those, Clannad is another, and there’s also The Grisaia Trilogy, as well as others.


With it has come a number of people questioning the cost of localization who are seemingly baffled by the costs of the process as implied by these Kickstarter projects. They make themselves known in forums and social media each time one of these Kickstarters appears online.


Now, in response to people questioning the costs of localizing games for the US market, Jess Chavez recently ran through the various costs of localizing a game for the US market in a blog post titled “How The Sausage Gets Made.”


Chavez used to work at XSEED as the localization manager/senior editor but now works as a freelance “localization gun.” So she should know what she’s talking about.


Here’s a quick summary of the various points that she talks about as part of the cost of localization:


  • Licensing a game and dev team time
  • Translation and editing
  • Voice recording
  • Ratings
  • QA
  • Submission
  • Marketing


One interesting tidbit that Chavez covers is how much difference a game having voiceovers can have on its sales:


“You say that Japanese-only is fine for you, but a publisher loses a significant chunk of sales if there is not an English dub. Is it worth it for the company to release a game with so much of their potential audience written off? Not usually. There are exceptions, of course (companies with smaller expectations for one), but it can have a huge impact on your sales/audience reached. If a company were aiming for a dual release (digi and physical) then a dub is almost always needed because it’s difficult to get store placement otherwise.”


Chavez also points to what a former colleage at XSEED called Tom wrote up on NeoGAF that explains why publishers remove the original Japanese voices from games – “it’s done out of necessity, NOT by choice,” he writes.


It’s worth reading through all of Chavez’s post if you’re interested in the costs and processes involved in localization. Maybe also check out the other articles she links to at the bottom for more on the topic.

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Chris Priestman
Former Siliconera staff writer and fan of both games made in Japan and indie games.