Mankind has been gambling since there was anything to gamble with — even before there was currency and back when the playing pieces were bones and the rewards food and livestock. So there’s no surprise that it’s still such a universal pastime in the 21st century.
But despite the universality of gaming, people in different parts of the world like to game differently. As a result, it’s critical for casinos and gaming companies to make sure their games, software and overall experiences are localized to specific countries and cultures. Localization can improve customer engagement and loyalty, create new business opportunities and ensure a more seamless entry into the market, both in terms of business success and governmental oversight.
Using the local language and hearing the customer
Consider this the bare essentials of localization. Making sure your new platform, content, product, app or service is customized to the dominant local language and culture is the minimum required. Translating your user interface, game content and ancillary materials into the native language makes each interaction more immersive and accessible to the local population.
It’s also a way to show that you, as a company, acknowledge and appreciate the local culture, which fosters more customer satisfaction and thus loyalty. But consider going beyond just translating into the local language(s).
You don’t go to Beijing for the burgers, just like you don’t expect bandeja paisa at a local restaurant in Zurich. In the same way, you’re not going to get a huge waitlist for Sic Bo in Las Vegas, and don’t expect to play a lot of keno in Macao. And if you want to play roulette or craps in California, guess what? They’re not allowed — you’re going to have to settle for a substitute.
Just as they do with foods and music, different cultures have different tastes in the games they play, and you can’t expect to just open up a roulette game in San Francisco or stroll into Panama with pachinko and expect it to do blockbuster business. Knowing what games people actually want to play in a specific region is a vital part of ensuring long term business success..
The same goes for themes and graphics. Tried-and-true games and themes that are popular with local customers will resonate better with players in your target market, and will usually attract more players.
Regulations and compliance
With casinos and gaming come regulations and compliance challenges, often involving government rules at the national, regional and local levels. And you definitely can’t assume that the regulations and compliance rules are going to be mostly or basically the same from country to country, region to region or city to city. Key to localization is knowing how these things change from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and a gaming or tech company has to make sure the necessary licenses are obtained, that all the regulations are observed, and that compliance officers have fulfilled all their requirements. The alternative isn’t just potential legal penalties but possibly a slower or thwarted launch, fines, and lost revenue. The same goes for respecting local cultural sensibilities and traditions, which can also have legal ramifications in certain countries.
Regional payment options
Banking and financial institutions can vary widely from nation to nation, and knowing what hurdles you and your customers have to overcome to move money around will make a huge difference in your profitability. What are the local payment methods, and how do you integrate them into your existing software architecture? How will it affect compliance? Are customers able to access all their usual functions via your tech, such as withdrawal and deposits? What about security? Keeping the financial aspect of the customer experience as smooth, fast, and familiar as possible will make it much easier to build trust and allow the guest to focus on the fun of the gaming experience. That’s instead of the anxieties that come with payment delays or deposit rejections from an apparently unstable financial service, which will generate mistrust about the product and ultimately about the company.
No matter how perfect your gaming tech is, there’s always going to be customers who need a little extra help. Localizing that experience makes it so much easier both for the customer and for your company. Ensuring that customer service is locally supported with multilingual offerings and time zone-sensitive assistance makes customer service more prompt, more accurate and leaves more users feeling like your company really cares about their experience. In addition, you get better feedback, meaning you can do a better and faster job of making necessary improvements.
Expanding into new markets
Entering new markets can open the door to a world of new opportunities. Gaining a foothold in a new market is a great way to boost your company up, and localization is like giving you a rope that helps you to climb the mountain.
If you want your customers and clients to walk away from your gaming product more satisfied that you truly understood their needs and requirements, tailoring your project to the local market is an unskippable step in establishing your presence in a new market and for that, you need partners who know how to do it.
Why is an external development team better for localization?
As you can see, localization can be a tricky project that depends on an experienced team familiar with the nuances of the cultural, linguistic and legal differences that a product faces when it enters a new market. Most companies don’t have the bandwidth to handle this internally — they’re busy enough creating, improving and distributing the product.
Often, product launches are stalled while the company tries to handle localization internally, leading to delays in market availability, customer dissatisfaction, and lost competitive opportunities.
Third-party software companies like mine, Plan A Technologies, are uniquely positioned to deal with localization, having the experience with crossing international and cultural borders (we’re currently in 27 countries and collectively speak dozens of languages). Our team has built countless interfaces, gaming apps, payment tools, guest services applications, employee platforms, and more for many different companies around the world. As I’ve written about in previous columns, outsourcing software development is often the better financial choice, as well.
So before you go off and take your killer new gaming app to another community, think about the kind of help you need and the hurdles you’ll have to face to ensure that it has the best chances of success. We may be in the gambling business, but that doesn’t mean you should gamble with the profitability of your company when it comes to entering a new market.
This article originally appeared in Spanish in Yogonet.