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Lets talk about localisation...

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by seon, Mar 19, 2008.

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  1. seon

    seon

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    I want to start a thread on localisation. I personally don't understand all that is involved, nor what is expected and how to achieve it, so I thought I would throw it open to everyone here to discuss, because it will eventually effect all here that plan on selling games they make in Unity (and other apps).

    What needs to be done to localise a game?
    How far do we need to go?
    Is english content acceptable world wide now?
    Is Unity capable of allowing us to do full localisation?
     
  2. Nightman

    Nightman

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    Some simple answers... An my thoughts
    1) to localize a game, you need to completely rewrite in various languages ( I think german and French and spnish are important (?)) all texts in your game; harder thing, redo all the speechs and maybe even some textures.
    and this may need some specialized person that knows well the language, other than anothersound artist.
    3) my thought is yes, but I don't thing this could be done for games aimed to childrens younger than 10 years... Also I think localization could help to diffuse more a game.
    4) I remember t have read a post concerning this, but I can't remember, aniway if I am rift that post says yes, and it should be quite easy.

    Filiph
     
  3. jashan

    jashan

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    Hi Seon,

    that'll be an interesting thread... I'll be starting localizing my game shortly, and since I didn't do it right from the start, it'll be an incredible amount of work ;-)

    I think there's a demo project that shows a few key features of localization in Unity, and .NET provides quite a lot of very helpful features for that, too (I hope that's in mscorlib, but I'm afraid it's probably not... at least parts of it are probably not)...

    The first thing to understand about localization is really: The earlier you start, the less painful it is. It's usually wise to have all text strings (and references to textures with text to be localized on them) in a separate file that can easily be modified from "non-programmers" (i.e. translators). Another thing to be aware of are different number and date formats (like 1.500,00 vs. 1,500.00 and 10/23/2008 vs. 23.10.2008). Obviously, when you have speech in the game, things get really tricky...

    Another thing that many people run into: do not every build strings from parts ("He tells " + blah + " that he likes her") because in other languages, the order of words might be different. The correct way of doing this is something like "He tells {name} that he likes her", or, more technical, but string.Format()-friendy: "He tells {0} that he likes her".

    Well, that's just what is at the top of my mind right now...

    Sunny regards,
    Jashan
     
  4. HiggyB

    HiggyB

    Unity Product Evangelist

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    Q: What needs to be done to localise a game?
    A: I'd say that as long you're localizing then:
    - all UI display strings
    - all in-game text
    - all spoken audio (?)

    Q: How far do we need to go?
    A: That's up to you of course, but at a minimum you'll want to localize the information required to play the game. That would mean at least your instructions text and any critical UI elements. Beyond that you can start being selective depending on budget/time/whatever.

    Q: Is english content acceptable world wide now?
    A: Interesting question, I'm not sure about this myself. I'll agree with the above comments that content targeting a younger audience probably needs localization more so than content targeting older users.

    Q: Is Unity capable of allowing us to do full localisation?
    A: Yep. :)


    Another thing to think about is string length. When you're creating dialogs or other text display areas that will show strings in multiple languages then you need to consider string display lengths. A phrase that's short and compact in one language may be long and less compact in another language. It's just something to think about early-on in the development process so you don't have to rework lots of UI far down the line when you finally get strings localized. A great example to backup Jashan's point: the earlier you start the better!
     
  5. AngryAnt

    AngryAnt

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    Do not. Repeat: Do not use language in audio unless you're sure that you have acceptable voice actors in reach.

    As mentioned earlier starting to implement localisation early is a good plan.

    Alternatively you could strive to keep language out of your game as much as possible.

    In my current project I've made it a design goal / obstruction not to use any written or spoken language at all in-game. This gives me the bonus of only having to localise menus and guides whilst giving me the challenge of basing my interface purely on icons.
     
  6. benblo

    benblo

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    Just wanted to comment on "is english content acceptable world wide now?".

    I'd say it depends on your game, if you're doing Wii Sports, you can nearly avoid having any text at all, but if you have any kind of complex instructions, or scenario, or anything, I'd say English is not at all accepted worldwide.

    I'm gonna say very general stuff here, which is always dangerous, so please people don't misinterpret me, I don't want to offend anyone.


    As a general rule I'd say don't pay attention to what people from European countries north of France say, because they're very good English speakers (and we envy them), so their view is biased. Germany, Holland, Scandinavia Denmark (or is Denmark part of Scandinavia? I can never remember)... you can probably get away with English.

    Latin cultures... not so much! I'm French, and French people are notoriously very bad at foreign languages (how we get so many tourists puzzles me).
    In general, Spanish people aren't that good either. I know Latin America has a bad reputation piracy-wise, but it's still a huge audience that you may not want to miss.

    In order of priority, I'd recommend Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil is like half of South America and amongst the richest), French and Italian, and German.


    I believe it all depends on the volume of people speaking a certain language. In Holland, American TV shows are in English with subtitles only, whereas in France or Spain, they're dubbed... which makes us very lazy (and incidentally makes low-budget movies very crappy). Multi-language TV is coming in Europe, but it's desperatingly marginal: the technology's here but the public isn't really asking for it so no one makes any real effort to provide content.
    If you ever visit a torrent site (you know... for your own education... not for being a pirate... ahem), you'll see that it's often easier to find a movie dubbed in Spanish, French or Italian than in its original American version.

    So yeah, those cultures clearly want their games in their language. Big portals always localize their games, because average Joe (or average Jean or average Juan) no speak Inglish.

    But again, it depends... if you're targeting geeks, they're probably better at English, and will want to play the original version anyway because translations suck...
     
  7. tolm

    tolm

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    Very good points, especially Tom's comment about string lengths and Jashan's about number formats. Those are typically things that can turn into hurdles if you don't plan for them beforehand. String.Format() is your friend.

    Another thing to take into account, especially if you plan on entering the Asian markets, are cultural differences.

    This is an interesting read about the often subtle differences between Americans and the Japanese when it comes to tastes in video games. If anyone has any experiences of trying to enter the Japanese market, I'd be glad to hear it. I've actually been playing with the thought of localising stuff into Japanese.
     
  8. Charles Hinshaw

    Charles Hinshaw

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    Consider too the 3 billion dollar game market of China. Asia is, as a whole, a huge market consideration.

    And, depending on what you are doing, I wouldn't rule out emerging markets either. I would think that there might be a very possible market in developing educational "serious" games designed for low-end systems for Africa... there would be logistics issues, but it probably shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. And that isn't to say that there isn't also a more traditional market on that continent either...
     
  9. benblo

    benblo

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    Yes clearly I forgot to mention Asia! I don't know much about it though so I have no idea which languages would be best... Chinese, Japanese... Korean?
    Anyway that confirms that English is definitely not enough!
     
  10. jashan

    jashan

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  11. hai_ok

    hai_ok

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    thats a great link
    good read and informative


    I'm building a localization component

    I'll try to keep it generic until it's built

    then perhaps post it on the wiki
     
  12. Ferdil

    Ferdil

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    I didn't understand exactly how would that be done.

    How would you access a text file from unity? How would you call the different strings? How would you translate the starting graphics/input dialog?
     
  13. mikesgames

    mikesgames

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    I read somewhere that carmageddon had to change all of the blood to green blood in germany, because they were not allowed realistic violence,

    and that castle wolfenstien had to show a warning on their website to warn all german people about it, because it involved nazi's
     
  14. jashan

    jashan

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    In general, since Unity is based on Mono, you could use System.Globalization and System.Resources.

    There's also tutorials (I would *not* recommend using numbers as keys for your language entries, though, as it was done in that particular tutorial). A lot of resources can also be found here, at Microsoft .NET Internationalization.
     
  15. MatthewJCollins

    MatthewJCollins

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    Interesting topic. I wonder if it would be possible/beneficial to automatically default to a specific language for a web game based on the player's IP address? Of course, still have the option to change it in a menu. Or is it just better to have a language option on start up?

    Has anyone tried to do seamless localization for web games via IP addresses? Is that common?
     
  16. jashan

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    From the server, you can check out the client's preferred locale (should usually be set correctly in the browsers, these days) which is probably better practice than using the IP-address, which in some countries might be against the law (we got some pretty crazy legislation to protect us from big brother here in Germany ... well, we have both: laws against big brother companies that I feel are a little over the edge and laws supporting a big brother government ... um ... oh, now I get scared ... I better shut my mouth before n0mad comes along and exposes the conspiracies I'm involved in ;-) ).
     
  17. benblo

    benblo

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    IP geo-matching isn't the way to go IMO, Unity gives you the user's system language, which may be different from its location (for example I'm in France but my OS is in english, so is my Google account etc).
    Usually the .NET way to get it is System.Globalization.CultureInfo.CurrentCulture, which gives you everything you need: Name, TwoLetterISOLanguageName, ThreeLetterISOLanguageName, etc. With Name you could even differentiate between US (en-us) and UK (en-gb)...
    Last time I checked, CurrentCulture worked fine on Windows, but on Mac OSX it always returned InvariantCulture. That was a while back though, before UT included Application.systemLanguage, so maybe it's been fixed, and if not hopefully it will be with Unity 3 and the Mono upgrade.
     
  18. GeneralGrant

    GeneralGrant

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    Do not know what this means,


    but,


    ok.
     
  19. MatthewJCollins

    MatthewJCollins

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    Interesting, thanks for the info jashan and benblo! I'll have to investigate those methods and see how they work.
     
  20. jashan

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    Unfortunately not ... CurrentCulture doesn't work on Mac OS, and also not on Google Android ... and still waiting for my project to build for iOS to see if it's working there.

    What does work on Mac OS and Google Android is Application.systemLanguage ... I don't really get why UT had to have their own "stuff" done here, especially because System.Globalization.CultureInfo would be in mscorlib ... so really there wouldn't be any reason not to use it. Except that someone forgot to properly implement it :-(

    Unfortunately, it doesn't work on iOS ... so Unity doesn't provide a proper mechanism for localization that works everywhere at all :-(

    Well, I'd say this is a bug (I know I can work around it with hacking ApplicationController and writing the language into the PlayerPrefs but that's not really the way I want to do this):

    (Case 393268) Application.systemLanguage returns "Unknown" on iOS
     
  21. Ippokratis

    Ippokratis

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    I think that a serious effort in making a game ( serious as cash involved) should take into consideration Asians and Arabs. Just a thought :)
     
  22. jashan

    jashan

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    Absolutely! ;-) ... one of the things that makes this really tricky, though (so you will need serious cash to get that done ;-) ) is that you'll have to include not only localized texts but also localized fonts (and support different text directions).

    So that's certainly a good point one needs to be aware of during development. It's so much easier when you take such things into consideration right from the start than when you realize it late in the process.
     
  23. seon

    seon

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    I just finished localising StuntMANIA Reloaded (English, French, German, Dutch, Italian Spanish)... and boy was that fun!!!

    I ended up writing my own localisation framework and have the language selectable in game (can be changed while the game is running which is cool to watch).

    The biggest issue in the end (apart from ensuring all of our fonts had extended character sets) was the string length issues between languages and fitting them into elements like headers and buttons etc.

    Most localisation companies expect max/ideal string lengths and can *usually* get their translations to fit within them.

    All in all was a fairly painless exercise once the framework was in. Much easier to localise when your framework is in there from the start!
     
  24. jashan

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    That's where it's nice when German is your native language ... it's quite verbose, at least compared to English ;-) ... hm ... maybe that's why I prefer C# over UnityScript!? ;-)

    I guess when you're doing development in English, it's usually a good idea to make sure you simple have some spare room. Especially with very short statements (like just 2 or 3 words), there's sometimes really not that much room for "fitting it in". And sometimes, it would be kind of unfortunate to have to pick a "not-so-great"-word just because it's shorter. Like: I'm calling my achievements "awards" ... and my favorite German word for that would have been "Auszeichnungen". Unfortunately, that would have broken my design big time - so I used "Erfolge", which is kind of alright (and certainly better than having to redesign everything ;-) ), but it's just unfortunate that due to layout constraints I have to pick word that's just "okay".

    Yeah, I think that's really one of the most important things to have in mind.

    Btw: Congratz to having StuntMANIA localized! :)
     
  25. taumel

    taumel

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    I think this very much depends on the game. For some games this can be a real benefit, for others it isn't important at all. I still value a game by its qualities than by the number of languages it offers but then again i'm old, my wheelchair isn't the best anymore and now excuse me, i'll finally give the second edition of Monkey Island II a try, hopefully my eyes have a good day, and i hope for those greedy developers that they did not forget to support my beloved albanian again.
     
  26. Eva Maria

    Eva Maria

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    It would be great to know how you are doing download-wise before and after localisation. Is there much difference? Have you also translated the appstoretexts and titels of the game? Did you use different builds for each localisation or do you let people choose the language inside the app?
    I know, too many questions ;-)
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2011
  27. seon

    seon

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    Hi Eva,

    Our localised version of StuntMANIA Reloaded is still in review, so I cant really tell you if it has/will make a difference on sales yet.

    It's localised dynamically in game (1 game build) so on a first play the user is asked to select a language (they can cycle through them realtime and watch the language selection window change language). and once thats set, they can go to the game options screen at any time to change their language again if they choose.

    We have no localised the Mac App Store descriptions *yet*.. As we update them often, we are holding off to see how necessary it is before having to incur addition expense on each text change.

    We (for now) have not localised any graphics in game... just String based text, as we wan to gauge how well it goes and impacts sales before we just on this last challenge. That said, only about 5% of our wording is graphics based, so it's not a lot of a worry.

    Cheers :)
     
  28. Eva Maria

    Eva Maria

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    Hi Seon, thank you so much for your answers! Please keep us posted, if there is any inpact on sales because of your localisation!
    All the best from Austria to Australia!
     
  29. Ippokratis

    Ippokratis

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    Hi. I just found this article regarding localization and I post the link, hoping it could be usefull as an alternative way of doing localization with less cost.
     
  30. 2dfxman1

    2dfxman1

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    Localize Russian.
    If you do not, they will not buy your game and will instead pirate it. I know from experience as I lived in russia for some years.
    People there really hate english and will not pay for a game unless it's in russian.
     
  31. galent

    galent

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    I've done localization on one of the IBM products I worked on (23 languages). The approach isn't terribly complex, but double byte character sets can make UI/UX a real challenge (especially any of the right top to bottom left languages). Now I've recently been introduced to Mandarin written in left-right, top to bottom style, which if acceptable for your needs will probably be much easier (at least in planning text / GUI placements).

    I'd say you're best best is to plan on a couple GUIs based on major shifts in text display needs.

    Just some thoughts,

    Cheers,

    Galen
     
  32. seon

    seon

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    After a week of StuntMANIA Reloaded 1.1 being released with localisation (amongst some other major additions) SMR is now in the #10 Games charts in 37 different countries, and clearly rising in the charts from where it was.

    To be honest, I am doubtful that this phenomena is Localisation related, as we are #3 Game in the US, and #14 Overall in the US and the game initially shipped in English, so localisation doesn't explain that rise. Also, we haven't had any reviews mentioning the localisation, good or bad, so there you have it.

    I think the increase in sales (due to localisation) to be expected on iOS is much bigger than on OSX as I would think (just a guess) that the number of iOS devices in non-english speaking countries would FAR exceed the number of Macs, and that though the OSX install base is always growing around the globe, it will always pale in comparison to the iOS install base.

    I am glad we localised, and we are looking at adding a few more languages over the next month or so, but I am not in a comfortable specifically recommending that anyone localise their Mac app/game with the intention on increasing sales as I just don't know if it has done anything directly for our sales.

    Edit: HAHA... and just as I post this we slip to #15 US Overall! Grrrr :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2011
  33. Mathieu

    Mathieu

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    Oh boy, I second that.
    Every time I have to work with localization it's bothering me.
     
  34. gl33mer

    gl33mer

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    One of my ongoing projects involves RTL languages (right-to-left), Hebrew Arabic.

    We've opted for premade textures for all text strings (some quite long and elaborate).

    Will share more. We're in preliminary stages - testing mainly.

    I would much prefer to use flash ( or catalyze rather) and integrate with unity.

    I've read that unity will be building to FLA's. That should make integration easier.

    This project requires the display of elaborate text and video depending on user actions in the 3d world.

    Flash would be straight forward (at least much more than unity) for RTL text and video (though I haven't tested Unity's video abilities yet).

    All this is supposed to run on a tablet. (does flash run on iOS these days or do we need to go with some android pad?


    ok. a little tangent. forgive my typos. One handed - as beautiful little child in other.


    haPpy days :)
     
  35. attilam

    attilam

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    Yea, RTL languages are a pain at the moment. So far we've been lucky and didn't need to display too much text in our Arabic projects, all necessary text was packed into textures by the artists. Our current project is a lot more verbose though, so proper RTL text support would be very much welcome.

    I've had a look around for external tools and it seems like pango is a tool that can render Arabic reliably well into textures, so we may use that.

    @gl33mer (and others): Is this roughly what you're doing?

    And yea, something like Catalyst or Scaleform would be awesome for GUI rendering...

    Flash works on iOS with Adobe Packager for iPhone, which builds an executable app of your project.
     
  36. neo

    neo

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    Apple has a good solution for localization of text. They have a file format called .strings files. You call a function "LocalizedString(@"foo")" or something like that in your Objective-C and it looks up the "foo" string.

    We've localized our non-game apps in to many languages and found it is very useful. For iOS with unity this is the solution we plan to take (eg: do the localization string handling on the Objective-C side.)

    Someone could write a C# bit of code that works with these .strings files and make it universal.

    The reason to adopt this standard (rather than something else) is that localizers are used to it, and they support it directly.

    For instance:
    http://www.icanlocalize.com/site/tutorials/iphone-applications-localization-guide/

    This means that all we do is upload the strings file and they return other strings files. It is very convenient for us and for the localizers.

    When you start supporting multiple languages you find that there are a lot of languages you might want to add... and being able to take the drudgery out of doing so is a huge benefit.

    So, I'd propose going with a localized.strings file method. (and if nobody else does this is exactly what I'm going to do when we start working on cross-platform unity apps. However, it will likely be many months before I do that, since right now we're doing iOS only.)
     
  37. playing_cat

    playing_cat

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    Localization is quite important in China. Generally I recommend any good apps to my friends, they often refuse to try after they find the game is not in Chinese. Though English is quite popular in China and we can totally play it by trying differet buttons in game for times, Chinese users are not used to using apps without Chinese. Especailly now part of smartphone users are 35+ years old, which are rich enough to pay everything but don't know any other language well except Chinese. Other part of users are 18- years old, they like paying for apps but haven't quite mastered English yet.

    BTW, if your games are not for smartphone,PC,MAC but for other devices like Wii,PSP ect. You can ignore China market. Because these devices are not allowed to sell in China.

    Becides the acknowledge of languages, the content is also another factor. Not every user can know certain professional words of apps well
    . So how to express it accessible to users that are interested in the app is a skill. And it will be much easier to help users to make the decision to pay for the app after they know whether this is what he is look for.

    All my words are based on Chinese users analysis, only FYI
     
  38. Starsman Games

    Starsman Games

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    Hey, I'm offended!!! (J/K)

    Seriously, though, Spanish is heavily dependant on the country you are talking about.
    • Mexico, likely due to immigration and border sharing, has a youth that is very likely to at least know very basic english. They will accept an English GUI.
    • Puerto Rico? You will never find a Spanish language computer or dubbed movie in the hands of anyone under 60, and movie theathers never, ever, ever ever, display a dubbed movie. Only dubbing ever gets shown is on local TV, but American Cable TV is extremely dominant.
    • Spain, are more along the lines you describe.
    • Not so sure about how things are down in South America, though.

    (i know i replied to an old post :p)
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2011
  39. Starsman Games

    Starsman Games

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    How come I have seen China App Store sales for my game in iTunes Connect?


    On the thread's topic. I noticed that after a few months there have not been many follow ups. I want to mention a few things. I did a min-localization effort with my second patch, adding German, Russian and Spanish descriptions to the App Store (no in-game changes) and I noticed a small boost in sales. The Spanish didn’t seem to boost much, though, but German and Russia became regularly 4 of my top selling countries (within my very conservative sales.) I also did a big effort to "iconize" the interface to minimize the use of language in that patch, but App Names and texts remained English. Even the screenshots had marketing labels in English.

    I have been working on localizing the game itself for various languages in the past two weeks. For this I wrote a small class that allows me to fetch textures from a language directory inside of the Resources one. It will automatically load the proper language image on Awake based off a public property that can easily be set in the inspector, and also offers a static function to load a Texture2D, useful to call from within OnGUI calls.

    It's very simple but I'll post it later here, in case anyone finds it useful.
     
  40. Ashkan_gc

    Ashkan_gc

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    Didn't have the time to read the full topic but as much as i read no one mentioned these.
    1- if you are doing a game for different countries then if you want the same rating u might have to adjust real game content. for example one of the mortal kombat games don't show one of the fatalities of joker fully in UK version due to some rating limitations which would make the game +18.
    2- In some countries like middle eastern ones you can not show secually explicit materials at all and also many dressings might need adjustment if you want to be allowed to publish there. does it worth the effort? might yes might no. but it's a new emerging market.
     
  41. DreamCreations

    DreamCreations

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  42. Piotrku

    Piotrku

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    Please check out this plugin: http://u3d.as/vXf

    It helps you read user's region and currency on iOS and Android
     
  43. AntoineDesbiens

    AntoineDesbiens

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    Run, the skeletons are coming.
     
  44. Meltdown

    Meltdown

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  45. ShilohGames

    ShilohGames

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    Necro thread from 2008. Wow.
     
  46. SaltwaterAssemnly

    SaltwaterAssemnly

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    Can't stand apps that don't localiSe to true English - UK English.
     
  47. Lurking-Ninja

    Lurking-Ninja

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    Necro-inception.

    BTW, "true English" is the one we speak in Hungary. Your ears would bleed to listen to it, but still.
     
  48. Murgilod

    Murgilod

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    Language is not immutable.
     
  49. AcidArrow

    AcidArrow

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    5,609
    How common is that sentiment?
     
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