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Advancements in Game Technology: the Best Return May Be the Least Glamorous

This post discusses the value of employing new technologies in games, making the case that the most valuable technologies may not be the flashiest, but those that support a quality user experience, illustrated by KIXEYE's use of localization automation.

The online game industry has led the way with many technology advancements: graphics, CPU speed, and sound cards, to name a few. And now VR adoption, as seen by its pervasive presence at the recent GDC 2016 conference in San Francisco.

 

At the same time, despite consistent industry growth, the future of any specific game or game company is intimately tied to the latest trends and sometimes fickle tastes of the gamer community. We’re all familiar with the high profile, rapid rise and subsequent business challenges faced by the former industry darling Zynga, as a prime example.

 

So for game companies that are in the business for the long haul, particularly online game developers, adoption of tools and technologies that cement engagement is essential, and anything else is a nice to have (at best) or possibly even an added distraction (and cost), something no financially motivated game company would want to adopt.

 

Take, for instance, KIXEYE, developer of the super successful War Commander and VEGA Conflict massive multiplayer online (MMO) games, among others. Their first game was the Facebook-based Backyard Monsters, which from the beginning followed the engagement path, bringing users in for an immersive, extended gaming experience, unlike the competitors of the era, who were focusing on quick interactions involving selling livestock or planting corn. For KIXEYE, this approach led to much greater revenue per customer, much longer life for the game itself, and much better (although maybe less glamorous) ROI.

 

So when they moved from the Facebook platform to self-hosting their online and mobile titles, it’s no surprise that localizing their games was part of the plan. Expanding to new languages would enable them to engage an even larger audience of serious gamers, again extending their development investment to wisely cover and capture an even broader fan base. That larger base is also essential to the success of a MMO game where having a critical mass of participants at any one time is a requirement.

 

To support their move into localization, KIXEYE adopted technology - localization automation, joining the Transifex customer base in July 2014. The platform has supported them in localizing three game titles in various languages (Battle Pirates in 4 languages, and VEGA Conflict and War-Commander Rogue Assassin both in 11 languages) as well as their Zendesk support content in all game languages and their corporate website into German and French. And they’re working to expand their translated content again.


Technology adoption for game development must be pursued carefully, with both the cost and the benefit to the player in mind. So in the same way that gratuitously applied special effects won’t save a game without a detailed, intriguing storyline, localization itself and localization technology in particular cannot create engagement for a game that’s not designed to inspire immersive play. But it can extend the success of a well-designed game experience, providing more of that “non-glamorous” ROI.

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