When Persona 3 Portable and persona 4 golden were released on new platforms last week, much was made of the fact that for the first time the latter would include French, Italian, German and Spanish subtitles. This was great news for European fans, but the people most responsible for this achievement aren’t getting the dues they deserve.
Last week, Katrina Leonoudakis, a former localization coordinator at Sega who left the company in 2022 (and now works in television), sounded the alarm that the FIGS (French, Italian, German, and Spanish) translation team they had worked with had not been given full credit for their work on the games.
These teams were not directly employed by the Sega publishers; instead, they were contractors and employees of Keywords Studios, an outsourcing company that handled game localization tasks. In-game credits, only the most senior Keywords employees, not the actual localization employees, are included.
“The people left out are the translators, editors, and other localization professionals who created the French, Italian, German, and Spanish localizations of the P3P and P4G ports,” Leonoudakis tells me. “These individuals were employees and/or contractors of Keywords Studios, a language services provider that SEGA of America hired to produce FIGS localization. I was the localization coordinator on this title at SEGA from 2021 until my departure in July 2022; part of my job was to stay in contact with the FIGS teams, answer their localization-related questions on the project, and escalate any questions/concerns to the Japanese developers.”
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?”.
This is the same argument that is made throughout the industry, and something we’ve written a lot about. People crucial to the release of a great video game are excluded from its credits All the time, for a variety of reasons, from petty power games to administrative oversights. 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 acknowledgment (and professional recognition) they deserve.
“Unfortunately, translators are still quite invisible,” says Leonoudakis. “A good translation is transparent and does not read like a translation at all for the reader. That’s why it’s all the more important to give credit to the translators, writers, and localization staff who create game localizations. If game developers want to profit from the regions they localize their games for, the least they can do is credit the people who made all that profit possible.