Game localization for Russia


Russia is the biggest country in the world. As of 2020, it is number 9 in terms of its population. Almost 76% of the population is urbanized. The urban youth is now increasingly diverting towards gaming, mostly mobile gaming. Russia currently ranks number 11 in revenue earned from the gaming industry. In 2019, mobile games accounted for 34% of the total turnover. According to Yandex(the prominent website in Russia), an average Russian player is of 36 years and prefers mobile to console. The revenue increased by 29% and mobile gaming alone brought in USD 700 million. The projected volume for 2020 is USD 823 million.

Even though it is assumed that most of the players come from the younger generation and the same is the focus of the developers, but, the older users generally pay more. Users in the age group of 25–44 years are the source of almost three-fourth of the revenue, i.e. 73% from in-app purchases. While there are more male players than female players, women tend to spend more (46% of women in comparison to 36% of men) on in-app purchases to level up. Below is the graph of players by game type and age group.

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Source: Statista

According to the survey done by Statista, the most popular game in 2019 was the War of Tanks. Here is a graphical representation of the top video games played in Russia.

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Source: Statista

Hence, Russia can be on your radar if you are looking to expand. But before expanding, you need to consider certain factors. Since Russian is the official language, is it important to localize your content accordingly? Is the culture vastly different from the west? Let’s take a look into it.

Russian Culture and Localization

  • Russians are used to Western culture, though they are not familiar with the European languages. So it is essential to localize the language, culturalization can be neglected.
  • There is still an influence of communism. The older generation is more conservative, and as most of the game players are older, one shouldn’t show communism in a controversial light.
  • Russians are also very nationalistic. Hence, stay away from negatively portraying of Russia’s involvement in WWII, criticizing the current government, or the Russian church.
  • Even though Russians are pretty tolerant of the modern worldview, you have to study what can be deemed controversial by the Russian government. Homosexuality is illegal in Russia, depicting any LGBT character can be scrutinized under Gay Propaganda Law.

Russian Language and Localization

Russian is the second most widely used language on Steam, a digital video game distribution platform. On average, games in the Russian language are sold three times more than that in the English language. Russian is not only native to Russia; it is the official language of Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. It is also considered an unofficial lingua franca in Ukraine and many former Soviet countries. So you have an extensive audience base to cater too.

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The Challenges You Need to Lookout For

  • Cyrillic Characters: the Russian language consists of Cyrillic characters, whereas English characters are Latin-based. The problem is you can’t translate word-to-word from English to Russian. Instead, you have to translate the meaning as accurately as possible.
  • Grammar: The Russian language has three genders, namely masculine, feminine, and neuter. It also has six cases which means that different endings are depending on adjectives and nouns and whether words are singular or plural. It depends on the case and the gender of the noun. These changes will change the spelling in each case. While translating for your game, unlike in English, where you could use the impersonal pronoun ‘you’, here you have to translate into three genders. For example, suppose you want to generate the notification ‘are you ready to play’, you have to translate the announcement according to gender, time, and variables.
  • Formal or Informal: As the Spanish language has different pronouns for formal, informal, singular and plural, Russian also have the same inflexions. Hence, you have to decide whether to translate into formal language or the informal one.
  • Sentences: The general order of a sentence in the English language is subject-verb-object, whereas, in Russian, a lot of sentences begin with the object. Also, sometimes, English words do not have an exact translation. Hence one needs a phrase instead, which makes Russian sentences longer than its English counterpart.

How to Localize in the Russian language

  • User Interface and Font: The Russian language has longer sentences in comparison to English. You need to adapt the UI and add more space for the text. Also, ensure that the font is compatible with Cyrillic characters.
  • Transliteration or Translation: As it is hard to translate word by word, sometimes you might end up losing the meaning completely. You can also opt for transliteration for some words.
  • English and Russian: A lot of users are playing for a long time, they are used to certain English words and knows the meaning, if they prefer, they should have the option to continue using English.
  • Subtitles/voiceover: If the subtitle is a more effective way to reach the audience, then opt for it.
  • Game Translator: Hire a game translator as the translation would be context-based instead of word-to-word translation. The more efficient and accurate the translation is, the better will the consumers receive it.

It is essential to know where to release your game in Russia, Yandex is more prominent in Russia as compared to Google. Also, platforms such as Steam and wargaming.net are popular. Therefore, make sure your game is compatible with such platforms to reach the masses.

By Pooja Srivastava
Team Loc-N-Apps

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