Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

The big wide world

It’s a big wide world out there. What percentage of that world is buying my games? Well obviously it’s a tiny chunk, but more relevantly, what percentage of them are in any position whatsoever to buy my games even if they wanted to?

Well first of all, they need internet access, but frankly there is nothing I can do to help there. Then, they need a way to pay for them. I use a number of stores now, including direct sales through BMTMicro, who will take credit cards, debit cards, amazon payments, Google and PayPal, so that’s a LOT of people covered.

Then they have to speak English.

Wait! What? Lets backtrack a bit. The problem with being an English Speaker is you are historically linked to either the UK, North America, Australia or New Zealand. two of these are remote islands where you aren’t going to routinely travel to see foreign-speaking neighbors. One if a country so huge you can travel extensively and still never leave it. Another had a huge Empire and thus arrogantly assumes everyone understands English anyway… As a result, people who speak English tend to think everyone else speaks it. And they don’t. There is a huge world of non-english speaking gamers out there! Now let’s assume that a lot of them speak a language that requires unicode, and my games don’t support it (ouch!). Lets also assume that some are in developing countries and can’t afford games (or piracy is rife). Let’s assume cultural differences prevent a lot of others from considering buying my games. That STILL leaves a huge audience for them that could be enjoying Democracy 3  and my other games if they were translated. How big? Well certainly bigger than the population of New Zealand (4.43 million) If you suddenly found a group of 4.43 million people who might like your game, wouldn’t you go to the effort to sell to them? I’m planning to.


Democracy 3 can now be bought in English German and as of today, French! (BONJOUR!!!). I may not stop there. The biggest hurdle is simply admin. The hassle of new steam builds, and the management of getting the relevant linux/mac builds done is the bottleneck. This is the LAST game where I will have this hassle. GSB2 will have multiple language support built in from the start and handled entirely by an in-game option. All I’ll need to handle is different store pages. I still have other things to tweak. BMT Micro store pages need to be multi-lingual, as do the confirmation emails and download instructions. I’ve still never sent out a foreign-language press release yet.

I can’t see any reason why the MAJORITY of GSB 2’s sales should not be from non-english speaking people.

In other news you can now get Democracy 3 on the Apple App store, if for some reason you refuse to shop anywhere else…



4 thoughts on The big wide world

  1. Hi Cliff,

    Two things:

    * Your “French” link right now points to the same page as the “German” link (which I think needs a comma before it, unless you mean that Democracy 3 is in English with a German accent – which would be hilarious).
    * Are you using any kind of tool for supporting multi-language? Some lib like gettext(), something custom, a mix between both…?


  2. I tried this with a German language game. The sales were fine, but I wouldn’t do it again because …

    English has become the default language of business in Europe. Go to the Netherlands, Scandinavia, even somewhere like Germany, and many people will speak it fluently. Especially the sorts of people who would be interested in a Democracy 3 game.

    The number of people who speak English well enough to play a game like Democracy 3 is probably around 1.5 billion. The only other market like it is Chinese.

    Second, if you’re translating, then it’s not just the game. It’s marketing, customer support, game feedback, web-site updates, text changes in the game you make have to be changed in whatever languages at the same time, and UI changes in the game (and probably other things).

    (If the game is done-done, then you don’t have to worry about some of those, and it’s less of a hassle.)

    To me, the question isn’t whether there are 4.2 million (or 42 million, or whatever) people who might want to buy your game who speak another language, the question is how much time-headache is it going to involve, and could your efforts be directed somewhere else to more benefit?

    For example, would you increase profit more by making a translation into Spanish, or by taking the same amount of time and effort and improving the English language version?

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