Meta fails to localize Horizon Worlds before launching in Spain and France

Meta received some harsh words from frustrated Spanish speakers after a shaky international rollout of its game Horizon Worlds.

Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, launched the game in Spain and France on Aug. 16, however, Spanish players were understandably confused when they began playing the game only to learn that it had not been properly translated into Spanish or localized for a Spanish audience. The company released a statement later that day noting that the game is only available in English and will be localized later on in the future.

“We want to enable more people to experience and connect with others in Horizon Worlds as soon as possible, and this means opening to more regions first in an English-only capacity,” Amy White, a spokesperson for Facebook told tech publication Gizmodo. “We look forward to building a more localized experience soon.”

Upon its initial release in Spain, some parts of the game had been translated into Spanish — but these were few and far between. Real o Virtual, a Spanish Youtube channel reviewing virtual reality-based games uploaded a video playing the game and showed that items had been translated into Spanish, but some remained in English. The translated items were seemingly selected at random — one menu allowed users to select from the options “Movimiento” (Spanish for “movement), “General,” “Sound,” “Seguridad” (Spanish for “security”), and “Legal.” 

Real o Virtual and the channel’s audience criticized the company’s failure to localize the game properly before releasing it in Spain, pointing out the irony in the fact that the company has put millions of dollars toward the concept of the metaverse and was seemingly unable to translate the game into a language spoken by hundreds of millions of people. Meta later updated the game so that all menu items were in English only, according to Real o Virtual.

“Spanish is a language with more than 500 million speakers in more than twenty countries — among them the United States, which is the country with the second largest number of Spanish speakers,” one commenter wrote. “To me, it is an INSULT that it wasn’t COMPLETELY translated into Spanish, and the entire Hispanic community should denounce this serious case of HISPANOPHOBIA and Anglo-Saxon imperialism.”

Meta is no stranger to imperfect, Anglo-centric international launches. When the company rebranded itself last fall, people all across the world ridiculed its new name, which sounded somewhat silly in several non-English languages. In October, MultiLingual raised questions about how the company would manage its multilingual experience — it seems like Meta’s still figuring out the answer to that question.

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Andrew Warner
Andrew Warner is a writer from Sacramento. He received his B.A. in linguistics and English from UCLA and is currently working toward an M.A. in applied linguistics at Columbia University. His writing has been published in Language Magazine, Sactown Magazine, and The Takeout.

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