When Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Gold was released on new platforms last week, did a lot to make the last one feature French, Italian, German and Spanish subtitles for the first time. It was great news for European fans, but the people most responsible for this achievement are not getting the credit they deserve.
Last week, former localization coordinator at Sega, Katrina Leonoudakis, left the company in 2022 (and currently works in television), raised the alarm that the FIGS (French, Italian, German and Spanish) translation team he worked with was not being fully credited for their work on the games.
These teams did not work directly for Sega publishers; Instead, they were contractors and employees at Keywords Studios, an outsourcing company that handles game localization tasks. Credits for games only include top-level employees at Keywords, not the actual staff responsible for localization.
Leonoudakis tells me that “the rest here are translators, editors and other localization professionals who create French, Italian, German and Spanish localizations of P3P and P4G ports”. “These people were employees and/or contractors of Keywords Studios, the language service provider that SEGA of America hired to develop the FIGS localization. I was the Localization Coordinator for this title at SEGA from 2021 until my departure in July 2022; Part of my job includes liaising with the FIGS teams, answering their localization questions regarding the project and relaying any questions/concerns to the Japanese developers.”
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She says this isn’t an issue with Sega, who to their credit make “internal steps during credit creation to ensure anyone who’s touched a title is represented in the credits, even reaching out to every individual to make sure their name is spelled right”. Rather, she says the blame here lies with Keywords themselves. “Keywords has a ‘policy’ not to credit any contractors or localizers that work on a project, preferring to be credited as ‘Localization produced by Keywords Studios’, Leonoudakis says. “Unless SEGA’s producer, or Japanese developers, tell Keywords specifically that they MUST credit their contractors, they will not pass that information along.”
“I’ve been told by contractors who work at Keywords that they have been ‘forbidden to speak out about crediting’ and ‘low-key threatened’ about it”, she says. “They do sometimes credit their Project Managers, but not the contractors who actually write the text FIGS players read to play and enjoy the game. Given that Persona is an extremely dialogue and narrative-heavy game, the localization is crucial to the game experience for FIGS players.”
Keywords has not responded to a request for comment on these policies and omissions,.
Leonoudakis chose this moment to speak up because she’s fed up with what has become a pattern in the AAA games industry. “Localization teams may work on these games for months or years, often being paid very little, to zero credit”, she says. “Not only is it morally wrong, but it makes it harder for translators and localization professionals to find work later. If you can’t prove you did all the translation for a triple-A game, how can you put it on your resume?”.
It’s the same argument in the industry, and something we’ve written about extensively. People who are important to the release of a great video game are left out of its credits always, for reasons ranging from petty power plays to administrative control. Whatever the excuse, the result is the same: people who have spent years of their lives working to bring you a game are missing out on the public thanks (and professional recognition) they deserve.
“Unfortunately, translators are still quite invisible,” says Leonoudakis. “A good translation is flawless and doesn’t read like a translation at all to the reader. That’s why it’s even more important to give credit to the translators, writers, and localization staff who created the localization of the games. If game developers want to make money from the regions they localize their games to, the least they can do is give credit to the people who made all that money possible.”