27th Jan 2021

Why Localization is the secret ingredient in a successful eSports recipe

By Yago Sagrado, Communications Specialist, Keywords Localization
www.linkedin.com/in/yago-sagrado-garcia

When it comes to successfully monetizing video games, there are many items for publishers and developers to consider.

For instance, quality localization can amplify a game’s reach by making it accessible to additional, key markets and its effectiveness can be measured directly by the sales of a specific product.

However, the video games industry continues to grow year after year and revenue streams adjacent to the traditional model of selling copies of games can be positively influenced by how a game connects with its target audience.

eSports might be the prime example of a parallel income model for developers that have successfully launched their games into this competitive ecosystem. It’s no wonder why more and more are trying to break into the space with their releases.

Source: Newzoo 2020 Global Esports Market Report

Forecasts for eSport revenues – even accounting for COVID-19’s impact on releases and lack of physical events – maintained a steady growth in 2020, reaching up to $970m.

These revenues are expected to increase at a much faster pace when the adverse effects of the pandemic begin to wane. Some projections even forecast eSports accounting for an astounding $1600m in total revenue by 2023.

However, not all games find success in the market. There is no defined formula for making a game “eSportsable”.

The reasons why games such as Rocket League or Fall Guys have such a sudden impact and resonate so much with massive audiences eager to consume streamed hours of the titles, apart from the obvious quality of the games, can’t be easily articulated or replicated.

You cannot guarantee if or when it is going to happen. However, there are prerequisites such as having stable servers, balanced gameplay, effective quality assurance and other technical aspects developers have control over.

The rise of streaming

Above all, there is one aspect – one that cannot always be fully controlled – that is key to success and that is an active community.

Localization is, undoubtedly, a tool to help increase market size and player engagement. It is no coincidence that the top 10 most watched eSports on Twitch are all localized products, some into more than 20 different languages.

Source: Newzoo Most Watched Games on Twitch

It seems obvious that Riot’s continued investment in full localization (including voice over) has paid off when you look at the number of hours watched of its powerhouse League of Legends.

With the rise of streaming as an entertainment outlet, the ties between how active an eSports community can become and the amount of time prominent streamers dedicate to a certain game, are now obvious.

But the influence of streamers still tends to be relatively local, dominated by regional stars who have huge followings within their areas of impact.

Making a game accessible from the get-go to this group of local influencers, who might not speak another language other than their native tongue, can open the gate to thousands of hours of watched content, awareness, the creation of a solid player base around the world and, finally, ROI.

According to statista.com, “by 2023, there are expected to be almost 300 million frequent viewers of eSports worldwide, a vast increase from the 173 million in 2018”.

The total number of viewers, without considering whether they are frequent or occasional viewers, is expected to rise to more than 600 million by 2023.

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Still, the percentage of English-native watchers is meager when compared to the market size in Asia Pacific (APAC).

More than half of the world’s frequent viewers are located within the APAC area and only around 12% in North America. One takeaway is immediate: localizing into the APAC area’s languages can be decisive in appealing to local streamers and players.

But there is another one that may be not so obvious, which is the untapped potential of other markets such as South America, or Arabic-speaking countries.

Conclusion: Put your communities first

Not all games aspire to become an eSports but when developing a multiplayer idea, it certainly has become a goal that creators have in mind.

There are countless variables that will determine if a product establishes itself as relevant for the competitive players and eSports audiences but localization and how it helps generate huge, active online communities through leads and accessibility, is certainly one of them.


Are you ready to reach new audiences in with quality culturally adapted content for your eSports games? Enter your details on our Localization page now to get a proposal.

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