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Tips for Buying EarthBound

December 20th, 2010 | EarthBound, Uncommon Knowledge

In an old issue of Nintendo Power (Volume 82 to be exact) there’s a quick mention in the Epic Center section about EarthBound:

For instance, Nintendo spent about $50,000 just for the game translation of EarthBound.

$50,000 in 1995 is equal to about $70,000 today, after calculating inflation. Even being a professional translator myself that seems pretty high, but I’m guessing they factored in all sorts of things, like the localization costs, localization programming costs, commute costs back and forth between Japan, and such. They also had multiple translators working on the project at a pretty quick pace. I don’t think many companies would invest that much into the translation of a risky release (such as new IPs) these days. Which is probably reason #1 why MOTHER 3 was passed up and it was probably a miracle EarthBound was ever greenlighted to be released outside Japan to begin with. Still, $50,000 for the translation is NOTHING compared to the $2,000,000 spent to market EarthBound.

Incidentally, after we finished the MOTHER 3 translation, for fun I tried to calculate what I would’ve charged had I translated it for a client. I forget the number now (or even if it included the re-programming or not), but I think it was somewhere in the $30,000-$40,000 range. It took us like a year and a half to finish it though, so I don’t think any business clients would’ve liked that 😛

In any case, like I’ve mentioned a few times in the past, if Nintendo’s ever interested in releasing an official English version of MOTHER 3 but the costs seem prohibitive, I’ll gladly offer my scripts and data and such for free!

Anyway, thanks to Zaratus for the tip about the magazine and the scan. I used to own that issue, can’t believe I never noticed that mention before!


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27 Comments to EarthBound’s Translation Cost $50,000

Godaigamer said on Dec. 20, 2010

I wonder if Edith Jeter is still alive. She’d probably be happy to know that DQVI is (hopefully) coming out Feb. 2011!

Ness said on Dec. 20, 2010

I still have that issue. I love my old Nintendo Power Magazine collection. I have all issues from January 1995 – December 2000.

Random Guardian said on Dec. 20, 2010

“If Nintendo’s ever interested in releasing an official English version of MOTHER 3 but the costs seem prohibitive, I’ll gladly offer my scripts and data and such for free!”

I wish that was all it took for release 🙁

Assorted Astrology-Related Names said on Dec. 20, 2010

You know, now that I think about it, Earthbound’s marketing strategy was the exact opposite of Mother 2’s. While America aimed for “Eww gross boys are gonna love this”, Japan was going for everyone and then some. Huh. Wonder if they realised that…

Hejiru said on Dec. 21, 2010

“In any case, like I’ve mentioned a few times in the past, if Nintendo’s ever interested in releasing an official English version of MOTHER 3 but the costs seem prohibitive, I’ll gladly offer my scripts and data and such for free!”

Oh God, I’d LOVE that. Official English Mother 3 using Mato’s translation would be awesome.

Hells said on Dec. 21, 2010

Reading that article still makes me sad to this day, Tactics Ogre was my most anticipated SNES game at the time– and all time favorite game. It sucks that the Mother series will never see this kind of attention from Nintendo… 🙁

Anonymous said on Dec. 21, 2010

Wow of all the old issues, it turns out to be the few ones I actually owned pre-100. I remember skipping over that section at first because I had no idea what RPG meant and had no interest in it XD I should go back and read the whole thing.

chaobreeder20 said on Dec. 21, 2010

The sad thing is that its been to long since Mother 3’s GBA release that the graphics would be outdated compared to standard DS quality,since GBA games have ceased,it would have only that port,and since we’re in that “HD grahics” age it would probly repeat EB’s dilemma,”low” quality graphics on a next gen console/handheld.Despite its huge western fan base as opposed to EB’s first realease with a limited fanbase and not enough sales,the whole thing would ultimately go down the drain.But that’s unless some other content is made to make use of DS/Whatever capabilities and Nintendo uses a better campaign and critics give good thourough reviews, it would be unlikely of a US port,but we can only hope.

Thank You for the Hack+Translation said on Dec. 21, 2010

Some consider you a god among men Mato, you can keep that in mind.

Anonymous said on Dec. 21, 2010

Hejiru: But they would still censor it.

Mato said on Dec. 21, 2010

Godaigamer: yeah, that’d be cool if she’s still alive and around to play it. I hope so!

Dr. Hobo said on Dec. 21, 2010

Huh, I had no idea translation could be so spendy. How much does it usually cost to translate a game since the $50k is out of the ordinary?

Mato said on Dec. 21, 2010

It’s probably not too much different for most text-heavy games, if you’re counting the translation by itself and not including localization, programming, etc. it’s probably a lot less than that. A lot of companies skimp on localization and programming too.

FuzzyPicklez said on Dec. 21, 2010

Of course, they would only consider releasing an English version if, in Japan, it’s ported, remade, or most lazily, emulated like Sonic Classic Collection. If it’s remade, you’ll probably only be able to offer the scripts (and some of the data)

NecrosaroIII said on Dec. 21, 2010

I hope Edith is still alive. She just has to wait one and a half more months.

Zaratus said on Dec. 22, 2010

I found that while actually looking to see if there was any news on DQVI in the US, since things had been quiet, and found that like 2 days before they actually went ahead and announced the date.

I don’t know if it’s true or not, but in the place I found that, someone claimed, “She’s still kicking too, a user found her and said she’s still alive at 91.”

missy said on Dec. 22, 2010

2mil on advertising? I knew it was a lot but… That is just ridiculous. I know it has been said before by SOMEONE but that is just not smart, Nintendo..
Of course they learned their lesson, but at the fans’ cost ):

And I had no idea it was that much to translate a game. EarthBound is mighty expensive.

NecrosaroIII said on Dec. 22, 2010

Zaratus, i did a simple google search of the woman’s name and the town she was said to be from and I got a hit on a people-finding website saying that someone was 91 and in that town. Now, I’m not sure that IS the same woman, or if their information is correct, but evidence seems to suggest…

Cubivore10 said on Dec. 23, 2010

Great, now people can shut up about NOA not caring about Earthbound.

iwata kicks you know what said on Jan. 6, 2011

Well, it’s because of the wasted $2 million that they didn’t get any return, but I guess NOA didn’t realize this and just said “Uhh…NO!” to MOTHER 3.

Rebel40000 said on Jan. 16, 2011

Just did a search for Edith Jeter. Apparently she passed away on the 3rd at the age of 91. 🙁

Mato said on Jan. 16, 2011

Aw man, if that’s true that’s sad 🙁

Nimbus said on Jan. 20, 2011

I really miss Epic Center. I stopped subscribing to Nintendo Power a few years ago so I don’t know what state it’s in now, but… man, they had some fantastic writers back in the day. One day I want to just sit down and re-read all of my old issues cover to cover.

Urban Champion-e said on Jan. 29, 2011

Edith Jeter died this past January unfortunately.

Swarles said on Nov. 25, 2011

Yes! I just found that magazine. Can’t wait to read!

emobook101 said on Dec. 13, 2011

did some math… Earthbound made about $8,450,000… how bad is that?


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