Why crowdsourcing sucks Crowdsourcing is the new buzzword these days. Apparently people shouldn't be paid when their job is fun, and therefore both game translators and game developers are expected to work for free. Do you like your work? Then you will no longer be paid. Hah, take that! The idea of crowdsourcing is indeed a very attractive one. Localization can be expensive if carried out the wrong way, and by gathering an enthusiastic crowd that would love to translate your game for free, you can save quite some money. To make crowdsourcing even easier, several crowdsourcing platforms have been launched: you register, you upload your app and off you go. Now, there are several reasons why crowdsourcing can fail before you have even started. First, you need to have an interesting product that is actually fun to translate, so you can forget about your End User License Agreements. Second, you need to have a large following, as else you won't be able to gather enough people willing to translate your product. And a large following is exactly what non-established game developers don't have. Third, most developers have come up with a unique concept they don't want their competitors to know about... yet. And the more people know about the inner workings of your product, the bigger the chance that your unique concept becomes public domain before the game has even been launched. Professional developers have their translators sign special NDA's that heavily penalize them if they ever talk about your product to anyone else. In that light, throwing your entire code in the cloud doesn't seem like a very good idea. Fourth, console manufacturers like Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony want you to use very specific platform terminology in each language you translate to. Professional game translators are trained to use these terms, which are updated monthly by the console manufacturers. If the translators get even one term wrong, you may need to resubmit the entire game. And when you realize the cost of that, using even the most expensive translation agency in the world suddenly becomes a very attractive option. Fifth, if you hand a text to thousands of translators, thousands of them will use different terms for everything, so that every single item in your game will end up having dozens of different translations. "Please bring me the staff. Ah, I see you have the rod already. How about me enchanting the stick?" Only to refer to it as stave, wand, cane, pole or club a few lines later. If you crowdsource, say goodbye to consistency, unless you crowdsource consistency checks too. Do you? Sixth, having the word American stamped in your passport does not make you a great English translator. Read the English of the users on your forum and you will notice that many of them can't even spell their own language correctly, let alone translate to it. But!, I hear you say, the translation won't be carried out by just one person... it will be carried out by the crowd: people can upvote and downvote translations and in the end only the best translations will survive. Good point. So let's see what actually goes on behind the screens of one of the best known crowdsourcing platforms out there, which we'll call Matata. I registered myself as a translator on Matata... all they wanted to know was my target language (Dutch), my name (Loek) and my e-mail address (see my contact details). Apparently that's all you need these days to become a reliable and professional translator. Nothing was asked about my educational background, and I could have specified Russian and Swahili as two other target languages I translate to (I could actually try, and the results would be interesting to say the least). After the registration was completed, I could take a look at all the apps and other texts "developers" had submitted for free translation by the crowd. See the table below and have fun (you can click on the images to enlarge them)!