MCV speaks to project manager Dominik Prophete about trends such as mobile games which are changing the localisation sector.
What are your thoughts on the relationship between publishers and QA firms?
What works well and what needs improving? Publishers like to have their own internal QA processes and are often not used to working with QA firms. Of course it is our mission to make the experience as smooth as possible for all parties involved. Proper preparation is key; otherwise you will only notice the problem when it’s too late. To give an example, even the best tester is not much use if they are hindered by unnecessary hurdles, slowing them down.
How have publisher attitudes towards the sector changed in the past year?
We are seeing some interesting developments in the digital distribution market on the PC, but frankly I haven’t seen much of a change within the last year. The console generation is quite seasoned. Expect more exciting changes when new hardware comes around.
Some of the QA and localisation firms we’ve spoken to are calling for publishers to bring them into the production process earlier in order to improve the service you provide. Do you agree?
Ideally publishers would bring us early into the development phase to avoid mistakes we have to phase over and over again. This can improve the overall localisation quality and at the same time speed up certification. We try to communicate this as early as possible with our clients.
Do you think more attention needs to be given to QA and localisation in general? Why, and how are you raising awareness of the sector?
The end customer will very well notice when money was saved on the wrong end. Metacritic will bite you back if your game is not in a releasable state and/or the localisation is flawed. I can think of a few very prominent titles that suffered this fate within the last 12 months. Good QA/Localisation is a long-term investment that will pay off.
Which regions around the world have seen increased demand for localisation or special QA needs in the last year, and how have you cater for this?
We are specialised in dealing with some of the more exotic languages and regions. The multicultural environment in Berlin gives us access to a great pool of resources. We have seen a rise in demand for Latin American Spanish, Turkish, Russian and Arabic.
Is user-testing important in an age of 3D and motion gaming? Do you cater for this?
It’s more important than ever. Just look at some of the recent hardware we have seen in the console space. It can help spotting obvious technical problems and give hints for finding the right marketing approach.
Do you believe there is a need for standardisation in QA and localisation practises? Why?
I don’t believe there is only one correct method to do things. Every project and client is different, and you have to account for that. However, it’s great to have a certain set of minimum requirements you can apply. For example, we want our localisation testers to be able to carry out independent text changes. If the publisher cannot give us this freedom it’s perfectly fine. However, the testing time will probably increase.
How has the rise of digital, casual and social games affected your business? Are you having to complete different projects, or have you had less demand for your services?
We are a fully-fledged localisation company, so if one area is seeing a lowered demand, a different one may increase, so we’re relatively balanced out on that. Digital distribution does not make a real difference for us. The industry has stopped laughing about casual and social games a long time ago and we are happy to work on these projects. The line between the classic hardcore game and the social/casual game is getting blurrier. Like it or not, micro-transactions are basically free money to take from the dedicated gamer.
How do you expect the sector to change in 2012?
Obviously we are expecting another increase in mobile and social gaming. Also Sony and Nintendo are competing in the classic handheld gaming market, while facing heavy competition from previously unknown forces. I am excited to see how this will affect the market and our work in the long run. Xbox 720 and PS4 seem too far off for a 2012 release, but the Wii U might hit Japan towards the end of next year. And finally streaming platforms like OnLive are another interesting area.