I speak English and Japanese, and became curious if it would be at all possible to (maybe in the future) offer a language option when downloading games, and have a selection of languages the game is available in, like English/Japanese/Spanish/French or something like that. When I play a Japanese-made game, I actually feel like often times the game is more exciting when played in Japanese with Japanese text and voices, and the same for American-made games when played with English text and voices. Maybe it's a matter of loving the original products as they were meant to be. I'm not sure. But I thought a feature like that would be really cool. That way, I can choose to download Mass Effect in English, and Final Fantasy Whatever in Japanese. And if you only speak English, you can always just pick English. Other services provide this option and I thought it'd be nice if we could do this on the PlayStation Store in the near future, maybe with new PS4 features and game-streaming capabilities.
(PS1 and PS2 classics having this feature as well would be doubly appreciated! That would be the icing on the cake!)
Welcome to the forum!
That is a great question me thinks! I think the logistics of it may be a little on the difficult side though. Between what regions games are released to, what region your account is in, how much extra space would be needed for mulitple versions of the game on the servers, and not to mention if the game was even recorded in muliple languages or the one you are looking for.
I sounds like a nice option, but may be more trouble than what it's worth.
If it's a matter of resources open such as server capacity, I'm sure Sony could make it work. I love Steam and its makers, Valve, and they provide this option with all of their games (they don't have streaming though) and I have to assume that Valve does not have as much money as Sony does. It can't be very difficult for Sony, can it?
The way Valve executes this is when you download the game, it automatically just downloads in the default language and once it's finished, you can go into the game file properties and switch the language and it will download the new language files. What Sony might be able to easily do is create a menu option for languages when highlighting the desired game (once downloaded) and pressing the triangle button, as opposed to always asking which language you want to download in at the store screen before downloading, every time, which might annoy some people. Or maybe in the system settings (if it asks you on the store page) you can turn the langauge option on/off, with 'off' just making all downloads the default language without a prompt.
It could work! Couldn't it? I'm sure Sony could figure something out. It would just be a really nice optional feature for multilingual gamers.
So the capability is there. It works with some games and doesn't seem like it would take much work to make it happen with all games. I understand some games don't have a Japanese/etc version and I don't want Sony to go the extra mile and make one or anything like that, because that actually would take a lot of time and money. Just the already existing versions.
So if I am understanding correctly, at the download screen, you want there to be an option to choose which default language pack is installed. Is this audio, written, or both?
It would be a great idea imo for sony to host the language files and distribute them at time of download, like a full game unlock, but I have no idea how big these audio language packs can be, much less the non-audio side of things. Then you may have to have devs change the way things are packaged due to the language accomodation. Probably a pain for some so they just revert to bundling all languages into one and hoping the consumer has enough space on the HDD. Or others being bugged for not having a language in something or another.
Main point is, I'd welcome the feature, but I don't really expect anyone but the most devoted to their consumerbase to follow through with it.
Games for consoles have been created specifically for regions for a long time. In the beginning, it was mostly due to available space on the cartridges in use. There was VERY little space available, in relation to today's 25+ GB discs, so when language was written into the games it took up space on the chips they used. Multiple languages took away available space, so the games were coded specifically for certain regions/languages. This then became a standard in videogames from then on.
With games on modern consoles, there are language settings which can be accessed by some games. However, most developers don't bother to do that unless they want to specifically code for it. The developers have to specifically write the code to pick up on the language that the system is set to and use that language. Most developers out there don't want to add in that extra code and would rather just code specifically for a certain language. Hence the different regions for games out there. For some, budgets and resourcing force them to hard code the language into the game itself.
All of this is 100% out of control of Sony, unless we're talking about Sony development teams. Even then, in many cases they won't bother spending the extra time to do this work if the expected sales created by it won't overcome the extra development time and money spent on making it possible.
If you truly want a game to have multiple languages available for use in game, you MUST contact the developer of that game as they are the only people on Earth who can make it happen.
Now onto the server capacity line. Services like steam are able to handle multiple languages as way PC games are written generally have the executable pull language data from the OS of the system itself. Windows, and most other operating systems, were designed for world wide distribution and therefore have large language libraries built into them which the games are able to pull from and use. So it isn't like Valve servers need to have multiple copies of the games stored. If there is the option to select the language of the game you are downloading, it is likely just a different .dll or something to that effect which is only a couple of kb maybe.
For the PSN, as stated earlier, the games there are full versions of games with all data contained in one single package. Games on your PC and games on your PS3 do not function in the same manner. So Sony would need to store ALL versions of all games on all of their servers across the world. When you take a look at how many regions there are and how many games there are for the PS3, you'll soon see just how much data that is. Yes, it's all under the Sony umbrella, but their internal budgets dictate how much money is spent on each region's servers. Games on their Japan servers which are focused on the gaming market in Japan would likely not sell nearly enough copies of the game outside of Japan to warrant the amount of server space needed to house them.
When you add more items to a server, there is more that needs to be duplicated for backup purposes so that if one of the systems fail, the entire server doesn't go down. So if you have a 10gb game for the English version, and you are also storing the Japanese, Spanish, German, and French language versions of the game at the same size, that's an additional 40gb of storage space needed on every single one of the servers they have. More storage space necessitates more hardware (which increases the chances of failure), more power consumption, and more space to house the additional servers and backups. That extra space costs money too.
TL;DR - The language a game uses is determined 100% solely by the developer of the game, NOT Sony.
PC Games and PS3 Games are not developed the same way and the additional storage of those games on the server is anything but cheap.
The really short, quick answer...
Text files for subtitles and such would be a simple matter of someone translating (hopefully accurately) the game 'script' to other languages and inserting it into the game code when someone selects a specific language.
Game titiles, menus and credits would need to be similarly translated and inserted into the display code.
Audio would be extremely complex. It's not just a simple matter of translating the speech in the game to other spoken languages. You would need to cast each part for each language to be included in the game, which means several different actors would be voicing each character (one for each language), and that means lots of $$$ to SAG members (I'd need to check on this, but I don't think you can just bring anyone in off the street) that you cast for your game.
The translations and voice overs are already there. Multi-language versions of each game already exist, and the money has already been paid for translators and actors. I was just curious if those could be used.