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Jetsetter: Angry Birds go Bollywood as Rovio tries to take India

The localization process is a fascinating beast. It’s so much more than translating text from one language into another. It’s rewriting that text to reflect cultural norms, reimagining humor so that it retains its essence while making sense to an audience very different than the one that produced the game in the first place. It’s a laborious process to boot. Just look at the exhaustive process XSEED goes through localizing games like Rune Factory 4, months of back and forth with the developer, writing and re-writing each tiny piece of dialogue until it’s just right. That’s just one game.

This being Jetsetter, Digital Trends’ weekly column devoted to import gaming and international game development, localization is a subject near and dear to our hearts. More interesting to Jetsetter is how games are localized for other countries. The very awesomest example, and one we’ve written about before, is how the American-made Ratchet & Clank was changed when it went to Japan. The game’s largely intact. Ratchet just has giant Groucho Marx eyebrows in Japan. Why? Don’t worry about it.

This week’s lead story in Jetsetter looks at how one of the world’s most famous games, the product of a Finnish mobile developer that’s become an economic force to be reckoned with over the past few years, is changing as it moves into more countries and cultures. 

Angry Birds go Bollywood.

John Riccitiello, the one time CEO of Electronic Arts, very publicly slammed Rovio this week. “Adding a Star Wars brand is not an innovation,” Riccitiello said at the Gaming Insiders Summit. “[Angry Birds] plays pretty much as it did. Maybe tomorrow they will do something so fundamentally innovative that they will prove me wrong.” Harsh!

Truth is, Angry Birds doesn’t need to innovate. The game’s intrinsically well-designed and people love it. Why mess with the formula? All Rovio needs to do is find ways to get even more people playing Angry Birds. Lightsabers are fine, but they’re not a global lure. That’s why the company is doing something different in bringing the game to India. While Rovio hasn’t laid out exact plans for expanding into one of the world’s fastest growing gaming markets, it has secured a partner for distribution. It’ll be working with Indian mobile publisher Hungama. Hungama actually made a pitch video for Rovio that had Bollywood stars talking about the game.

“One thing I have learned is you need to target the ‘B and C’ of India to be successful – Bollywood and cricket,” Antti Ohrling, Rovio’s head in India, told Boy Genius Report. I love the idea of Angry Birds with lavish musical numbers in the middle of your avian slingshotting!

contra-evolution-revolution-ipad-3 

Chinese partner of Konami and Disney secures big funding.

2013 turned out to not be as dramatic a year for expansion of the Chinese gaming market as 2012 was. Companies like Tencent slowed their acquisition process, and others like Snail Games spent more time developing new titles than aggressively expanding out into the rest of the world. It’s still an exciting time in China, though. Video game consoles have finally been legalized, leaving the door open for Sony and Microsoft to take advantage of the growing consumer class in the country. That means new opportunities for company’s like Chukong Technologies, who just secured $50 million in new funding to grow its publishing operations.

Chukong works with some familiar faces, mostly in the mobile game market. It brings Konami, Disney, and Gameloft games to China, amongst others. The wacky Contra pictured above was published in China by Chukong. It also funds CocoChina, a resource for Chinese game and app developers working on iOS. Chukong wants to be involved in more than mobile games, though. “There is a bigger play here than offering discrete mobile game experiences, and that’s what we’re going after,” said CEO Haozhi Chen.