In the age of digital distribution, and the general retail market in general its surprising that such an idea hasn’t been proposed before. I’m not talking about flat out removing languages from video games, no I’m talking about picking a universal language, such as English as the global version and working from there.
Games will always take some time to be translated into another language. Whether this happens during the development of the title or a delayed release is a different story, but the ability to push games aside for months and years because resources are limited is quite evident. By picking a universal language as the default development language, it allows once the product is finished to be distributed quicker to a range of consumers with little to no translating.
The core universal language version could be released worldwide, regardless if markets don’t speak the language. It will allow for markets which might not be able to get the game for quite some time to experience the game in their third or second language while still retaining a solid understanding on what the title is about and how to complete it. Gamers could be given a warning that the title isn’t translated into their primary language and then if desired be able to download the title in the chosen universal language.
However the idea shouldn’t stop there, with the game obviously been translated by the publisher over the years into other languages, what about the languages which they just don’t get around to doing? Or can’t do because of strained resources? The rise and popularity of fan translation projects as well as the marketing strength which a community generates when translating a title would be beneficial to an ecosystem which supports the ability for fans to easily upload the translations to the world.
By allowing games to have a resource and system built in which allows easy translation and patching, it would grow the region availability of a title in native languages as fans involve themselves for games they want which might not necessary be translated by the publisher. In combination with the original idea of increasing the market reach of titles by allowing a chosen language version to be accessible worldwide as soon as a title is published in a market.
This system could also be useful for smaller games published in foreign countries which wouldn’t necessary reach the western world. Games which wouldn’t normally be published from say Japan could be released worldwide once they launch in Japan to allow international gamers to purchase and experience the title prior to a translation. The influx of money from international users could spur an official translation or the generation of an international user base could create a fan translation which could be easily patched to the users game.
Fan translation patches could easily be approved by the publisher of the game and put up onto the consoles digital distribution platform for all users worldwide to access. Games could also have language based items in a more accessible and changeable global system which would allow less experienced fans to create their own translation patches. They could even create translation patches which change the tone of the game and in return make a new experience which could be approved by the published to be put onto the digital distribution ecosystem. These changed translations could be for example an XXX translation of your favourite game.