when Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden Released on new platforms last week, much was made of the fact that for the first time the latter was going to feature French, Italian, German and Spanish subtitles. That was great news for European fans, but the people most responsible for this achievement don’t get their due.
Last week Katrina Leonodakis, Sega’s former localization coordinator who left the company in 2022 (And now works on TV), raised the alarm that the FIGS (French, Italian, German and Spanish) translation team she had worked with had not been fully credited for their work on the games.
Those teams were not directly employed by publisher Sega; Instead they were contractors and employees at Keywords Studios, the outsourcing company handling the game’s localization duties. The credits of the games only include the most senior staff on keywords, and the actual workers responsible for localization.
“The people touched are the translators, editors, and other localization professionals who created the French, Italian, German and Spanish localizations of the ports of P3P and P4G”, Leonodakis tells me. “These individuals were employees and/or contractors of Keywords Studio, the language services provider that SEGA of America hired to produce the FIGS localization. I was the localization coordinator at SEGA on this title from 2021 until my departure in July 2022; part of my job was in contact with the FIGS teams. This included staying, answering their localization-related questions about the project and relaying any questions/concerns to the Japanese developers.
She says this isn’t a problem with Sega, who “take internal steps during credit creation to make sure everyone who touches a title is represented in the credits, reaching out to each person to make sure their name is spelled correctly”. . Instead, she says the fault here lies in the keywords themselves. “Keywords has a ‘policy’ that any contractors or localizers working on a project, preferring to credit it as a ‘localization produced by Keyword Studio,'” says Leonodakis. That they should credit their contractors, they don’t pass that information on.”
“I’ve been told by contractors who work at Keywords that they are ‘forbidden to talk about crediting’ and ‘low-key bullied,'” she says. Not to the contractors who read the text to do. Given that Persona is an extremely dialogue and story-heavy game, localization is critical to the game experience for FIGS players.”
Keywords did not respond to a request for comment on these policies and exclusions.
Leonodakis chose this moment to speak out because she is fed up with what has become a pattern in the AAA games industry. “Localization teams can work on these games for months or years, often paid little, with zero credit”, she says. “This is not only morally wrong, but it makes it difficult for translators and localization professionals to find work later. If you can’t prove that you did all the translations for a triple-A game, how can you put that on your resume?”.
It’s the same argument being made across the industry, and something we’ve written about extensively. Important people for the release of a big video game are left out of its credits always, for a variety of reasons, from petty power plays to administrative oversight. Whatever the excuse, the result is the same: the people who have spent years of their lives working to bring you the game deserve public thanks (and professional recognition).
“Unfortunately, translators are still very invisible”, says Leonodakis. “A good translation is seamless, and doesn’t read like a translation to the reader. That’s why it’s most important to give credit to the translators, writers and localization staff who created the localization of the game. If game developers want to profit from the regions they’re localizing their games to, at least they can make all the profit they can. Credit to the people who make it possible.”