More Major Japanese Releases Than Ever Receiving Translations - Here's Why

By Telegiz , | September 20, 2018



Starting from the release of the NES, video game fans in the west started to notice a problem with translations. As the video game market was at the time largely divided between the US, UK, and Japan, many of us were relegated to only enjoying a partial selection of what was on offer. While this affected some genres more than others, the text-heavy JRPGs being the biggest offenders, the outcome was the same - players could only enjoy a part of what gaming had to offer. Recently, however, this trend has shifted towards increasingly more Japanese games being translated for English speakers, but why is this, and can we expect this trend to continue in the future?

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The Importance of Growth

What many of us forget, surrounded as we are by enormous gaming companies which routinely generate billions of dollars annually, is that early video games were built by smaller teams and without such enormous reserves of cash. As with any business, these had to run a cost-benefit analysis on whether or not the expensive task of translating would have been worth the effort. Given how untested some of these games and genres were at these early points of the industry, it makes sense that many developers would be hesitant to put their limited resources on what they considered a losing gamble.

Convenience of the Digital

Tying into the raw cost of translation is the difficulty of physically printing and shipping games to other markets, as well as dealing with the regulations and additional costs which this incurs. Today, with digital storefronts not just becoming popular but in many cases being the preferred method of sales, many of these cost barriers have been eliminated in their entirety. Others, like those seeing difficulty with regulations, have become so streamlined with the developing infrastructure that international sales are far simpler than ever before. While the likes of Steam are perhaps the biggest examples of this, there are others like GoG which similarly illustrate the ease of these transitions.

Steam: The Free Weekend Sale

"Steam: The Free Weekend Sale" (CC BY 2.0) by BagoGames

As this works both ways, easy to west and vice versa, there are many western which have made strides in bridging the gap. More major gaming consoles like the Xbox, traditionally not especially popular in Japan, have seen huge uptakes in numbers, often due to the understanding that Japanese markets were not disinterested, they were simply under untapped. Even more modern gaming offshoots like William Hill's Japan online casino have jumped successfully into the world of digital translations and markets, offering the likes of blackjack and poker to new audiences.

Course Set

With larger companies having access to more money than ever before to fund translations, and digital storefronts lowering the barriers to entry far beyond anything in the past, the days of something like Square's Final Fantasy 3/6 confusion are a thing of the past. While this does not mean that everything from overseas we like will get a local translation, the likelihood of these translations is greater than ever before. Sure, we may miss the nostalgia of older fan-based efforts, but in the long run, this means less waiting, less annoyance, and more playing.


"SFC - FINAL FANTASY VI (14) 'SHVC-F6'" (Public Domain) by bensomarket

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