How ASO localization affects mobile game performance: a case from Nitro and Full HP

Can the translation of the game description increase the conversion to downloads? The answer to this question in the material for App2Top.ru The game studio Full HP tried to answer. Margarita Shvetsova from the online service Nitro, in which Full HP translates the texts of its products, helped her in this.

Margarita ShvetsovaAbout the company

Full HP is a small studio of 40 people. Its head office is located in Cyprus. It also has a division in Rostov-on-Don.

There are eight projects in the studio’s portfolio. The main ones are the Blocky Cars released five years ago and the three—year-old Mad GunZ. Both are free—play action games stylistically reminiscent of Minecraft. The total downloads of these titles reach 50 million.

Launch and localization

In Full HP, the process of launching each game is built as follows:

  • early access in Russia;
  • early access in MULTI5 regions;
  • translation of ASO and games from English into local languages;
  • worldwide release;
  • Translation of ASO and the game itself into Arabic, Korean, Japanese, Chinese and Thai;
  • gradual translation into other languages;
  • along with localization, there is an analysis and selection of the most relevant keywords.

Localization of descriptions and screenshots

Each country is preparing its own ASO. This increases the conversion from app page views to installations.

The story of Mad GunZ in Turkey is indicative. At first, the page was not localized in Turkish: screenshots, descriptions — everything was in English. Conversion from page visits to installations averaged 15.8% (Google Play).

Conversion before page localization (Turkey)
2-3 weeks after the localization of the page in the store, the conversion rate reached 18%.

This is within the norm. After localization of the page, the conversion rate usually increases by just 3-5 percentage points from the total number of users who visited the page.

Conversion after page localization (Turkey)
But this does not always happen.

In Vietnam, before the localization of the page, the conversion rate was 18.3%, and after that — 19.5%.

In Germany, the effect of page translation, on the contrary, was above average. Initially, there was a negative conversion rate (a percentile below 50 indicates that the game did not reach users). Users visited the game page, but something repelled them.

Conversion before page localization (Germany)
After translating the page into German and selecting keywords in German, not only the conversion rate increased (by 25 percentage points), but also the number of users who visited the page.

Conversion rate after localization of the page into German
Localizing the page and especially screenshots is important.

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on translating the description, then you should at least translate screenshots and a couple of phrases from the description into the user’s native language, and this will save the situation.

However, the increase does not occur immediately: ASO accelerates for a long time. It can easily take several weeks. Sometimes the first growth is noted only after 2-3 months. To see how the conversion grows, it is necessary to observe and constantly work not only on the description and screenshots, but also on keywords.

Working with keywords

Keywords need to be rewritten regularly to match search trends. Most often, it is necessary to rewrite the “keywords” for Japan and Korea, because there is the most demanding audience, which needs its own approach.

There are countries where regular rewriting of keywords is not required. For Full HP games, this is the USA. Here it is enough to track that the conversion remains at a high level.

In the US, Mad GunZ has the highest conversion rate, and the percentile is above 75
However, this does not mean that work with it should be abandoned: ASO optimization also affects the conversion to downloads.

For example, after optimizing the Blocky Cars page, the conversion rate increased by 6 percentage points — from 19.3% to 25.3%, and the number of users — from 15 thousand to 33 thousand.

Conversion to Blocky Cars before ASO was correctedConversion to Blocky Cars after the ASO was corrected

If ASO works great in the States, it does not mean that it will also work great in other English-speaking countries.

The same is true for Spanish-speaking countries: what works in Spain may not work in Mexico and Argentina.

Localization of keywords, in general, is a complicated story. For example, in India, the translation of keywords into Hindi, as well as the localization of the description of the game, did not give the expected effect. The developers explain this by the fact that most of the search queries in the country are in English. The audience is not used to looking for apps in their native language

Working in Asian markets

It is more difficult to work with eastern markets in general. For example, when translating into Chinese and Japanese, Full HP uses different texts than for users from Europe. Plus, not only the text is adapted for Asia, but also icons, graphic content of screenshots, videos.

The Full HP team tried to enhance brightness and contrast, use anime-style when displaying characters. The studio also experimented with the screenshot format. Its marketers changed the standard horizontal screenshots to vertical ones — they heard that in Korea they increase the conversion from the page.

The bright colors on the vertical screenshots went well in contrast to the anime style. Vertical screenshots didn’t work well either, but not because of the format as such, but because the game itself was horizontal.

It is not surprising that in Asian markets Full HP prefers to work through local partners. Thanks to this approach:

  • In China, Blocky Cars, which is distributed in China by the efforts of a local publisher, has more than 22 million downloads (this is more than the game collected from Google Play).

  • Japan, where Full HP games are also distributed by a local company, is the second most profitable market for the studio.


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