How to keep existing clients: 3 tips for video game translators.

I’m a video game translator, and I sell 80% of my translations to my old clients. It’s easier than selling to new ones, which costs a lot of time. First I wait for a potential job, then I send my CV and then I pass a translation test. If I success, I have to wait for an invitation to a project. It’s a lot of time and efforts – that’s why I focus on working with existing clients.

However, there is always a chance to lose a client. It’s bad, and I try to avoid it. Of course, if a client goes bankrupt or says farewell to game development, I can do nothing about it. But what I can do – is to prevent them from choosing another translator.

In this article I will share my own experience on how do I keep my clients.

Tip 1. Test your localizations yourself.

Localization testing is one of several stages of localization. At this stage a tester looks for mistakes which can be found only at this stage: untranslated text, overlapping text, too long phrases and wrong context. Translation mistakes can also be found: the more – the worst for a translator. I always try to do the testing myself for the following reasons:

  • I increase my reputation by helping my client. The client doesn’t need to look for another freelancer to test my translation. I save my client’s time, and time is money.
  • I find my own mistakes before my client or gaming community does. As I mentioned above, some mistakes can be found only at a testing stage, but gaming community doesn’t care. If I fail, people will blame me for bad localization, and I will lose a client.
  • I get extra money for this, because localization testing is a service.
  • I get a free game, which also costs money. If it’s published in Steam, I sell Steam cards. If it’s a mobile game, I get unlimited game currency and godlike powers for testing purposes. Cool!

An example from my practice is a quest “Trago”, where all your actions have consequences. I tested the game again and again. I found that some dialogs are still in English, because my client didn’t add them to a text file. I found some phrases falling out of the text boxes – the thing looked awfully, and I had to shorten my translation. I also found some font issues and reported to my client. I did a good job. Trago’s letsplays in Russian have 90.000 views on YouTube now, and nobody complaints on localization.

Tip 2. Give feedback and suggestions.

I want to be useful for my clients and to create additional value for them. Giving useful suggestions is a cheap option, because I already invested time in playing the game, and I can use my experience to invent suggestions. What advices are useful? Here is my list:

  • You should help developers earn more money at relatively low costs. A new pack with gems and bonuses, or new content for paying members is good. Selling a game soundtrack in Steam is also an option.
  • You should help players play the game longer. I often advice to add new content depending on game progress: new battlefield backgrounds, new weapon design, new character skins, new dialogs. Players are curious: “What changes if I upgrade my attack to the 50-th level? What happens at the 100-th stage?” The longer they play, the more money they spend and the more ads they watch.
  • You should help developers find new players. If a game has no “Share on Facebook” or “Rate us” button, let them add it. It’s a cheap way to find players.

I gave some advices to developers of a new incremental clicker “Eternal cannon”, where you defend your land from invading boxes. I hope they will be useful. For my clients I’m not just a translator, but also a consultant whose services are free, fortunately. And what I get in return, except a reputation bonus? New texts to translate, of course!

Tip 3. Check the source text for mistakes.

My clients come from all over the world. Most of them know English well enough to write texts for their games, but “well enough” doesn’t mean “perfect”. They make mistakes, and sometimes these mistakes change the meaning of the text and confuse players. As for me, I get angry when I’m confused, and I can write a bad comment, ask my money back or stop playing the game. I don’t think that it’s only me who feels like that.

So I check the source text for mistakes while translating. Even if I don’t find any “critical errors”, I correct spelling and improve style. It costs me nothing, while I get the following bonuses:

  • A client’s gratitude. I improve the game for free and prevent a client from losing money.
  • English grammar practice. Knowing English grammar is a useful skill.
  • Writing practice. It’s good for self-development, and I capitalize on it as well.

An example: I improved the source text for “Automobile Tycoon” – a game where you control your own car manufacturing company. The text had no critical mistakes: I only made minor changes. However, the game developer Chris told about my job: “…he did more than expected from a translator. Actually, I felt as if I got a QA specialist in addition to a translator.” I proudly have these words as a testimonial on my website, and I’m sure that I will give Chris the same quality for future games.


Selling translations to existing clients is easier than looking for new ones. To keep your clients with you, be useful for them. Create an additional value, and they won’t replace you with someone else. Don’t think of it, as of free service: you will be paid, and you will train new skills you will later capitalize on.