Translate your damn sites

Ever been to your favorite developer’s website only to find out you can’t read it (assuming your favorite developers are exactly the same as mine), not because of the onset of Sudden Illiteracy Syndrome (SIS) but because it’s in an entirely incomprehensible-scribble-based language?

Head over to Camelot’s official site and be in awe of how much cool content they have – little bios on each of the Takahashi brothers, a map to their office (or perhaps buried treasure), in-depth pages on the entire Shining series. Now realize it’s all in accursed Japanese and you will never, ever be able to read it (EVER). Staff interviews, questions and answers, and Golden Sun pages are all hidden behind abstruse kanji and katakana, hiding their secrets from us like a ninja with a secret…and a sword!

The Treasure page is somewhat crueler – the category headings are in easily read English (assuming English is easily read for you), taunting us to jump to a page that is completely meaningless beyond the neat artwork for, say Dynamite Headdy. The “Topics” page contains info on Xbox Live and the Wii, likely teasing readers with tidbits on Treasure’s latest projects. Randomly clicking through the site yields pages on soundtrack CDs for various games as well as company info and even hiring calls (I will be sending them a link to this post in case they need someone with a basic understanding of English and the ability to say “excuse me!” in Japanese).

Is hiring a translator excessively costly? These companies have Western fans (pretend the west speaks English exclusively) and should want to provide information and news to them, especially considering the growing sizes of the American and European markets and shrinking size of the Japanese market. We saved No More Heroes from being an utter flop, and Suda didn’t even need to hand out toilet paper here (awesome work on the English site, Grasshopper). At the very least Camelot and Treasure could stick up a single English page saying something along the lines of, “Visit thank you. We rejoice your interest and in order to possess support. If you see first in the Shining Force 4 as for Sin and Punishment 2. You appreciate.” (Engrish added at no extra charge.)

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15 years ago

It is unfortunate, but perhaps examples like Grasshopper Manufacture (they really did do a great job on that one) show that mid to low size Japanese developers are starting to warm up to the idea of keeping potential costumers informed even if they are thousands of miles away from Tokyo. I’ve always thought that most smaller development houses in Japan seem to think of drumming up product excitement in the foreign market as someone else’s problem, and to the extent that they continue to rely on big publishers to bring said products over seas, I can’t see them changing their minds soon. Certainly From Software was happy to bring Chromehounds out over here, but the promotion end of things (I’d say that includes an English language website for the developers) felt firmly in Sega’s court. Likewise, while the Luminous Arc for DS enjoyed the usual applause worthy pampering from Atlus USA, Marvelous Interactive barely looked up from it’s latest (entirely Japanese) press release for yet another Gunslinger Girls game. Game makers WILL start to pay personal attention to things like making a useful English language website, but only once they’re committed to the market enough to try braving the continental waters more or less on their own terms.