Wednesday, 2 March 2011

GDC 2011: The Travails of Localizing SWTOR

GDC 2011 is in full swing with game developers from across the industry coming together to share knowledge and experience. BioWare is at the conference as well and, as Gamasutra reports, had some experience to share (during the "Game Localization Summit") regarding their work localizing Star Wars: The Old Republic. Here's an excerpt:
"Localization is essential. Are we still talking about this?" asked Walton.

"The chart on costs of making a game are going up and worldwide competition is increasing... At a hypercompetitive rate." Meanwhile, "the most expensive games are where we're seeing a down trend in the market," he said. "In the end, if we don't make money with games, people won't give us more money to make more games."

BioWare mandates a simultaneous ship for localized products despite the huge amounts of text and dialogue in its titles (Dragon Age Origins had 1 million words; Mass Effect 2 400,000.)

In the case of localization, which allows developers to reach wider audiences with their work, "for once the business people and game making people are in alignment," said Walton.

The article goes on to talk about how important BioWare feels that localization is and how they go about it (in general terms). At the end it reveals that doing good localization can be quite expensive (they're talking about a seven-figure number per localization for SWTOR).

Meanwhile Darth Hater is reporting that EA's CEO John Riccitiello spoke about SWTOR at the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference. Here's an excerpt:

We're building a product with BioWare in Austin... and if you don't have a history, BioWare is probably the only developer in the world that is an even-tier to Blizzard in terms of RPGs. The history of BioWare shows they can go toe to toe. They've beat them many times when they go toe to toe in the market place. They've shipped multiple 90-rated products for EA in the short time they've been a part of Electronic Arts.

We're starting with one of the two great developers of RPG's. We're starting with a Star Wars fiction and we're investing what it takes to make a truly great product. Now the challenge of course is, how will that do in the marketplace? We think there's some possibility for challenging WoW for market leadership but that's really not in our calculations.

In general it sounds sensible; make a good product and you should do well. DOn't worry about beating the current market leader. As long as they're confident that they can make a good profit (and to me the numbers seem reasonable enough) all is well.

[link] to localization article at Gamasutra.
[link] to Morgan Stanley quote at Darth Hater.

1 comment:

Force Meridian said...

The folks at BioWare have definitely switched gears as of late, and it's clear that they've gone on the offensive in regards to Blizzard. I feel the same as you in that as long as the game is generating a profit, and they're able to continue supporting it, fleshing out its content and improving our experience, I'm going to be totally happy.

Your "world" will more or less be your server, in SWTOR. As long as your server has a healthy population, you won't see a difference between SWTOR having 500,000 subscribers, and 3 million subscribers as there's a finite cap to how many people your server can handle.

With that many additional subscribers though, they'd be able to pour that much more money back into the game, but will they do so, or will they take a chunk of that and invest it into other EA/BioWare operations?