Lost in Translation: The Sudden Rise of Poorly Translated Anime Games on Steam.

jA sad tale for Anime Games

I absolutely LOVE anime style games. A lot of these games never make it west due to the fact that many folks overseas believe there is no market for them. Personally, I think they are terribly wrong. However, there is a poison that has come into the market that may cause developers to think twice about sending more niche anime games West. That poison? Poorly translated games.

Lost in Translation…

Smaller companies (Sakura Games), do what is known as “in-house translations”. This means that in order to save money, they do the translations themselves, regardless if they know the language or not. Steam has had a recent flood of these games, mostly for the adult audience (Which I am okay with. Adult Games should have a place on Steam somewhere).

These games are perfectly translated in Japanese. This means Steam will accept them despite a bad English Translation. The majority of these games edited so they can be sold on the Steam Market and often for insanely cheap prices. Why is that you might ask? Simple! Once you get a copy of say “Dark Elf” and want to uncensor the game, you simply go to DLsite and buy the patch for $11+ so you will technically have a complete game. Does it fix the translation issues in English? Nope. It just unlocks a bunch of scenes, animations, and a story that would not get past Steam censors. It can feel like a bit of a scam, but it is a case of “You get what you pay for”.

Now, Sakura Games are not the only bad translator on the market, unfortunately. Some of the larger companies (NISA) will rush to put a game out as quickly as possible due to high demand or if it is a big title. This is what happened with the latest Ys game. The translation was so bad, fans complained to the company, and some folks even demanded refunds. Afterall, when you spend your money, you want a game that is a finished product! The backlash was bad enough that NISA will be issuing a patch in November to correct the translation issues.

Even Danganronpa 3 was not spared when it came to bad translations. When early reviews of the anime game came out, the main complaint was the translation was off. This was a first for the series. It can easily be blamed NISA wanting to rush and do a duel release of the game (Meaning a release across more than one country).  It was bad enough that I had pulled my pre-order (It is RARE I drop a pre-order, FYI).

The Solution to Poorly Translated Anime Games

How can companies like Steam, NISA, and others prevent bad translations? It is quite simple, actually. Do NOT rush getting your game out to the market! Fans are willing to wait for a good product an extra month or five. It’s really not a big deal. Think of it like doing a mid-term paper. Do not wait to the last minute to write it, or half-ass the whole thing. Remember, the consumer will grade you on that paper. And if you fail, well…. you are going to lose a lot of customers, loyal fans, and money.
Just some food for thought.


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