Atlus, publisher of fine niche games, has laid out a concise explanation of localization, answering the question: "Why does it take so long?" Atlus Editor Nich Maragos covers all the major steps, with timetables and explanations of each stop in the process. Our refined version goes like this:
  • Step 1: Familiarization (1-3 weeks) -- Play the game and understand context of written material.
  • Step 2: Localization (1-8 weeks) -- Depends on amount of text and if voice acting is required.
  • Step 3: Programming (4-6 weeks) -- All implemented by original developers.
  • Step 4: Quality Assurance (5-8 weeks) -- Bugs are natural side effect of localization, along with "test issues."
  • Step 5: Manufacturer Approval (3-8 weeks) -- "Internal testers go over the submitted master candidate."
  • Step 6: Manufacturing (3-5 weeks) -- Print, box and ship.
Even taking the most optimistic approach, it appears that localization takes a minimum of four and a half months. Hopefully that'll clear up the process for those who think it's as simple as switching a Word document with translated text.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.