And there is a sixth reason: Dutch is more closely related to English than any other language, giving gamers a false sense of security: "My English is perfect. All I need to do is translate the Dutch phrase word for word." The following examples are taken from gaming forums:
"I think i'm on of the best english speaking person on these forums, since i AM english. though, i'm quite sure, i am not the only one here."
"yeah Dutch peeps...a game in Dutch whahahah u make me laugh... [...] ...I Love this language but not in game man its [censored] U hear it from the best and feel the game in ENGLISH...the best language. I can imagin french but neffe Dutch or how u say it : Nederlands"
These gamers clearly have an inflated opinion of their language abilities. Worse still, a recent survey placed the Dutch firmly at the bottom of the list of English speakers in Europe. Although the Dutch are talkative, they clearly have problems expressing themselves clearly and correctly. The same problem applies to reading, digesting and understanding English texts.
The current mass revolution in gaming (including the launch of mobile phone games) is opening up the market to new audiences. Unlike the hardcore gamers who - justifiably or unjustifiably - see English as a way of life, this audience has not grown up with English games and phraseology. Research has revealed that these 'social' gamers make up 40% of the market.... while the group of hardcore gamers has dwindled to 30%.
It is therefore of paramount importance to accommodate both groups. If you launch the game exclusively in English, you will alienate 40% of your market. If you launch the game exclusively in Dutch, you will offend 30% of gamers. If, however, you manage to offer a Dutch localization service to accompany the English language version, you will secure 70% of the market (the remaining 30% are 'floating' gamers). Hardcore gamers are offered a distinctive proposition by the English language version, while 'social' gamers can play their favorite games in a language that they understand. This is the ideal win-win situation.
Tips for developers and publishers
Please feel free to use these tips, whether you wish to collaborate with Akebono or with another agency:
Make sure to offer choice - Your gamers must always be able to choose between Dutch and English language versions.
Localize to the Dutch market - By offering a localization service, you will increase your market share in the Netherlands by 40%.
Include the original text in the original language - By enclosing the original English language version along with the Dutch version, you will increase your market share in the Netherlands by 30%.
Trying to save time by cutting corners will undoubtedly impair quality - Choosing a big agency that offers translations in dozens of different languages may save time. However, you are not in control of quality, as the agency cannot possibly specialize in ten languages. By definition, a specialist agency can only 'specialize' in two or three languages at most. In addition, these agencies tend to be more expensive, as the majority of translations are not produced in-house, but outsourced to other translators.
Small agencies usually offer much more - By hiring in a specialist agency that only specializes in one or two languages, you remain in control of quality. It may however take slightly more time to find the right agency. It is important therefore to strike the right balance between saving time and remaining in control of quality/price.
Overly ambitious delivery deadlines will produce schizophrenic translations - Allow no more than 2,000-6,000 words a day for a translation project (for faster deadlines, it will be necessary to use two or more translators, resulting in stylistic differences, a schizophrenic mish-mash). Always allow for the fact that it may take several working days before a translator can commence work on a new translation.
Ask for references - Always select an agency that has affinity with the gaming world. Ask for references and examples of localized games or user manuals. Read these and assess whether you like the style.
Checklist for developers and publishers
To make a considered, balanced decision, ask the translation agencies and yourself the following questions:
How many translators - How many translators are working on the translation? The ideal answer is "one". However, it may not be possible for one translator working on his / her own to meet the deadline.
Native speakers - Are the translators based in the Netherlands, and are they Dutch native speakers?
Affinity - Do the translators have affinity with games? Are they gamers? If so, how long have they been gaming? How many years' translation experience do they have?
References - Is the agency able to give references and supply examples of translated materials?
Outsourcing - Are the translations produced by the agency itself, or outsourced to other agencies / translators? If the latter, you are entitled to expect the agency to check and proofread the translation. If not, you are robbing your own purse (translation agencies always add on a generous margin)!
Free test translation - Is the agency prepared to offer a free test translation of 300 words, giving you an idea of the end result?
Time - Take into account the deadline for completing a translation. To avoid stylistic differences, allow 2,000-6,000 words a day, plus two or three working days to schedule the translation.
Akebono Translation Service produces and checks all games translations internally.