as published in iGamingBusiness | Issue 97 | March/April 2016
When localizing a western product for the Asian market it takes more than just translating the content , writes Christian Schmidt of +ev Translation Service.
In 2015, Asia made up for 44% the global casino revenue, and has taken the first position from the North American market, with a stellar growth from 2010-2015. While land based casinos are currently suffering from China´s anti-corruption campaign, making it more difficult for junkets to bring gamblers to Macau and other casino regions, it gives online casinos an opportunity to convert these players to their slot and live dealer games by offering alternative deposit options. In addition, RNG games such as slots are said to be growing monthly at a double digit rate. The live element to assure integrity doesn´t seem to be as vital anymore as it was 10 years ago. Having played RNG games in land based and social casinos may have made players more trusting and comfortable with them.
Everybody is talking about Asia, yet western affiliates and online casinos consider it a tough market to enter. In virtually all relevant Asian countries gambling is illegal, which results in the banning of gambling related websites. China´s main search engines censor searches for gambling related terms. This makes SEO strategies that are used in the western market not easily transferable. Technical know-how such as cloaking and setting up mirror sites for circumventing these bans is needed.
Apart from the technical hurdle, there is a need to localize the western product for Asia. Localization consists of more than just translation, one also has to understand and adjust the product to the culture of each region. Asia may be perceived as one uniform market, but the reality is that even within just China, each province is as big and culturally diverse as being a separate country. Players are drawn to graphics and icons which relate to local mythology, as well as to games that use “lucky” colors and numbers. The colors red and yellow, the mid-autumn festival, Chinese zodiac animals, and other local traditions may come to mind.
In the last 10 years the Philippines has evolved to the iGaming hub of Asia. The main reason for this is that the Philippines, with First Cagayan, is the sole online gambling licensing authority in the Asia region. Setting up a company in this jurisdiction is more expensive than in other locations, but essential to enter the Asian iGaming market. Fortunately, this is compensated with a favorable tax system for foreign companies and lower average salaries in comparison to EU and US equivalents. The Philippines is also home to the world´s biggest BPO industry, having surpassed India in 2014. This means that needed high speed internet and a solid IT infrastructure are set in place. The largest sub-sector in the Philippine BPO industry is made up by call centers, due to English being widely spoken as it is an official language of the country. In fact other Asian nationalities travel to the Philippines to learn English, go to college and stay for work with one of the numerous multinational companies around. This is creating a pool of English speaking Asian natives which is impossible to find anywhere else. A pool that may also be beneficial when, according to a recent American Chamber of Commerce survey, 25% of American companies are leaving China and moving to other Asian locations such as Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia, thereby increasing the market size of these countries.
For iGaming firms in need of customer service and localizations, such as adjustments to cultural aspects and translations, it is crucial to work with native speakers in order to make players trust in the integrity of the company and reliability of payouts. To ensure language ability and cultural knowledge, only natives who grew up to the age of at least 18 in their homeland should be chosen. This applies in particular to languages such as Chinese and Japanese where there are thousands of different characters in the written language. Finding candidates who already have a background in the gaming industry is also preferable, which considering the over 130 licenses issued by First Cagayan and the growing local land based casino industry, is doable.
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