How to Localize Your App in Brazilian Portuguese
With a revenue of $2.18 billion in 2020, Brazil is one of the largest economies in Latin America and has become the 13th largest game market in the world. Localizing your apps and games into Brazilian Portuguese is therefore essential to succeed in this market. So, what do you need to consider when localizing your app or game for Brazil? We have gathered all the information and tips you need to know to localize your app/game successfully.
The mobile landscape in Brazil
iOS vs Google Play in Brazil
Contrary to Western markets, the Brazilian mobile market is dominated by Android devices which represent over 83% of all smartphone users. In fact, as Brazil imposes high taxes on electronic devices, Apple phones are expensive and out of reach for the majority of the Brazilian population. As a result, most people in Brazil gravitate toward the more affordable Android phones. Still, while Android represents the highest reach, iOS users typically spend more on in-app purchases. Thus, if you are thinking about launching your app in Brazil, it is recommended to make it available for both Android and iOS while keeping in mind that Android should be your priority.
Top apps & games in Brazil
Localized apps and games dominate the top charts in Brazil. In fact, when looking at the top charts, we mostly see apps and games that have localized both their metadata and creatives for the Brazilian market.
In terms of app preferences, Brazilians lean more toward Entertainment, Photo & Video, and Social Networking apps. These categories currently generate the most downloads for developers and dominate the top charts. For instance, 7 out of the top 10 free apps on the App Store are part of at least one of these categories (Entertainment, Photo & Video, or Social Networking).
Games are tremendously popular in Brazil, the 13th biggest game market worldwide with $1.45 billion in game revenue. According to a 2021 report from LocalizeDirect, the most popular game genres for men are Action, Racing, Strategy, Adventure, and Sports games. On the other hand, women (who represent the majority - 52.6% - of gamers) tend to prefer Strategy, Adventure, Card/Trivia, and Racing games. Overall, Strategy and Adventure are the most popular game genres in Brazil.
Length and alphabet
Brazilian Portuguese is a wordy language that generally requires much more space; when translating text from English, Brazilian Portuguese requires 25-30% more space. As a result, it takes much more time for users to read subtitles or text dialogue (if any) in Brazilian Portuguese so it is important to consider this when developing in-app and in-game content.
Unlike English, the Brazilian Portuguese alphabet is made up of many special characters; as a result, it is vital to use a font that provides full support for these characters. Designers in Brazil often use the fonts Helvetica, Baskerville, Times, or Gotham but whichever font you pick, make sure it supports the full library of Portuguese punctuation and accents, including:
- cedilla (ç)
- acute accents (á, é, í, ó, ú)
- circumflex accents (â, ê, ô)
- tilde (ã, õ)
- grave accents (à, and more rarely è, ì, ò, and ù)
If characters are not properly implemented in Brazilian Portuguese, the entire meaning of a word can change which can cause comprehension gaps in your text.
Differences between European Portuguese & Brazilian Portuguese
There is a misconception that Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese are the same language; in fact, they are actually very different. They differ in spelling, pronunciation and even entire words can often totally change. This is because Brazilians make verbs out of nouns, they condense expressions, and Brazilian Portuguese vocabulary is also influenced by African and Native American origins.
For instance, in Brazil, a bathroom is a “banheiro ‘’, while in Portugal it is called a “sala de banhos”. In fact, the majority of market players in Brazil reject European Portuguese localizations, so if you want to localize for the Brazilian market, either localize specifically for Brazilian Portuguese or do not localize at all.
Don’ts when translating to Brazilian Portuguese
It is unanimous among Brazilian gamers that bad localization into Brazilian Portuguese, such as literal translations, nonsensical sentences, grammar mistakes, or poor language ruin the experience and push gamers to switch back to English. For example, games localized for the Brazilian market often end up using slang and terminology from Rio de Janeiro. It is important to note that this is a local slang that is not used across the whole country and should be avoided (there are at least 16 variants of Portuguese spoken in Brazil). Thus, it is important to work with a native speaker for translations to make sure that the Brazilian Portuguese you implement is accepted and understood by the whole country. Furthermore, it is also recommended to always give gamers the option to play in English or in Brazilian Portuguese.
The importance of localization
Translating your app into Brazilian Portuguese is vital for it to succeed in the market: Localization is the 4th most important criteria for Brazilians to purchase or download a game and only a small proportion of Brazilians (5%) speak proficient English. Also, when looking at the apps and games in the top charts, the majority have localized their screenshots. This again shows the importance of Brazilian Portuguese localization, even for big brands like TikTok and Tinder. Especially for games, localizing in Brazilian Portuguese helps Brazilian users feel more engaged with the storyline and feel more loyal toward the product as localization represents audience consideration.
How to localize your app metadata for Brazil
For the app title, English or foreign brand names are well received and sometimes even perceived as “cool”, especially when it does not make any sense to translate the title. In fact, popular international brands such as Instagram, TikTok, Clash of Clans, and Homescapes only keep their original names in their titles in Brazil.
However, in some cases (particularly on the Google Play Store), several descriptive keywords are added after the brand name in the title, especially for apps. For instance, while Google Meet and AliExpress only include their brand name on the US Google Play Store, in Brazil they add some localized keywords after their brand name to further describe what the app is about.
However, it is recommended to translate the subtitle (or short description on Google Play) when you enter the Brazilian market, especially when translating the title into Brazilian Portuguese would not make sense or give an idea of what the app is about. For example, with the American dating app “Coffee Meets Bagel”, the app title does not describe what the app is about and a Brazilian Portuguese translation would not make any sense. In this case, it is crucial to include a localized subtitle to make the app more appealing to Brazilian users who will now feel as if the app was specifically made for this market.
Keyword field/Long description
Unlike in the title and subtitle, keywords in the iOS keyword field that would otherwise include special characters do not necessarily have to be written with the special characters. In fact, sometimes the version of a word without special characters can also have a good - or higher - search popularity compared to the original version (see examples below). This is because Brazilian users sometimes search the stores without using keyboards with special characters. As a result, it is important to check the versions of keywords with and without special characters before making your metadata selection.
How to localize your app creatives for Brazil
In Brazil, users particularly consider the app title, subtitle/short description, ratings, and creatives (the app icon, screenshots, etc) rather than reading the long description. Thus, creatives and, in particular, screenshots play a significant role in conversion and therefore also need to be localized. Translating the text metadata without localizing your screenshots can hurt your conversion in terms of page views to downloads.
A common practice in Brazil is to adapt screenshots for specific seasonal events; however, you should keep in mind that Brazil is (for the most part) in the Southern Hemisphere and so the seasons are different. For example, the weather during a Brazilian Christmas is hot and the July school vacation falls in the winter instead of summer, unlike in countries in the North Hemisphere. Therefore, it is very important to understand seasonal events and refer properly to them in your creatives (and in-app/game). In fact, many apps and games in Brazil will tweak their creatives to mark the Carnival or parades in Rio de Janeiro, which are the most popular Brazilian events. Some games like Free Fire even launch in-game events tailored to the Brazilian market and offer holiday-specific items within the game.
Incorporating cultural references and adapting the background of your screenshots can make your app or game feel more relevant to Brazilian users, especially within the gaming community. Rather than just translating your content, you should try to incorporate cultural elements (e.g., carnival costumes or monuments) or local personalities (e.g., Neymar Jr), not only in the screenshots but in the game itself. For example, the game DDTank Mobile culturalized its first screenshot in Brazil by adding the Corcovado mountain and Christ the Redeemer monument in the background, while also offering localized outfits to Brazilian players, such as carnival costumes that gamers can use.
For apps, an important element to consider when localizing your screenshots for Brazil is to use models that represent the Brazilian population. The graphic design app Canva is a good example of an app that adapted the models, background, and content of its screenshot while also adapting the text to Brazilian Portuguese - and not using European Portuguese captions. However, while Canva also translated the in-app text on the screenshot to European Portuguese, it did not do the same for Brazilian Portuguese (still in English).
Finally, it is critical to localize the metrics displayed in your screenshots, including currency, date, or measurements (meters, celsius, kilos, grams, etc). For example, it is recommended to use:
- 24h clock format
- DD/MM/YYYY date format
- Brazilian Real (R$) instead of the American Dollar ($)
In the example below, AliExpress translated its screenshot captions to Brazilian Portuguese but did not localize the currency, which can negatively impact the app. On the other hand, Wish localized all the content in its screenshots, including the currency and in-app text.
As previously mentioned, Social Networking apps are one the most popular genres in Brazil. Brazilians love using social networks and are fond of contests, promotions, and great deals. As a result, a common practice in Brazil is to offer promotions and special offers encouraging users to share the app with their friends through social media (make sure to convert the currency to Brazilian Real (R$)). Besides using the promo text, a good way to do this is through the Google Play feature graphic. For example, TikTok used its feature graphic with a Brazilian meme “#TikTokRyka” to promote a special offer: “Use the code TIKTOKBONUS and make money”.
Note: this practice only works for apps with a video since store listings won’t show the feature graphic for apps without videos.
More localization tips for Brazil
App/Game download size
Since the majority of the Brazilian population gravitates toward more affordable devices, the majority of these devices have low storage capacities (2 to 4GB) and, as a result, your app or game needs to be optimized accordingly. Also, 4G is more widespread than wifi; Brazilians turn more toward LITE versions of apps rather than classic versions. Therefore, it is recommended to reduce your APK install size to below 40MB for apps and 64MB for games, and make sure your app or game can be used offline or with a poor network connection.
When determining the price of your app or game, it is recommended to round the price to the nearest ‘90 or ‘99 cents because this pricing format is the most commonly used in Brazil. Also keep in mind that the Google Play Store supports tax-inclusive pricing in Brazil, meaning that you need to account for all the taxes, including VAT, when determining your price.
Sensitive topics in Brazilian localizations
Brazilians are quite tolerant of sensitive topics, especially the young population. Still, some topics, such as racism or other kinds of discrimination, may be received negatively. Sexual topics can also be sensitive because they often imply the objectification of women; it is therefore strongly recommended to avoid these topics especially in Brazil where women are predominant among the gaming community. Finally, it is best to avoid displaying suicide, excessive violence, or cruelty to avoid being banned from the app stores. In fact, in the past, Brazil has banned a few games such as Mortal Kombat and Doom for displaying scenes with excessive violence and cruelty.
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