Update: I reached out to Keywords Studios for comment on the claims made by Leonoudakis in the below article, and this is what it told me: “As a services provider to the global video games industry, it is standard procedure to provide the names of all who worked on the game with the understanding that this is no guarantee of inclusion in the final credits. Crediting decisions remain with game developers and publishers, who will consider and balance multiple aspects of this process”. The specific claim that Keywords workers are forbidden from speaking out about this practise was unaddressed.
Original story: Persona 3 Portable was released from its PSP shackles last Thursday, and Persona 4 Golden got a sizable update too. Both games—wherever you play them—now have full support for French, Italian, German, and Spanish (FIGS) subtitles, thanks to the work of localisers brave enough to take on the long and wordy games. But now it’s come to light (via Kotaku) that the people responsible for actually doing that localisation work have been left out of the final credits, with only senior staff members from Keywords—the localisation company that handled the work—mentioned by name.
The issue came to public attention after tweets by game translator Tamara Morales Gómez and Katrina Leonoudakis, an ex-localisation coordinator at Sega. Leonoudakis, who worked on the P3P and P4G localisation projects until she left Sega last year, tweeted that she had been adamant that everyone involved in the games’ localisations be properly credited when she worked at the company, even mentioning it in her farewell email to the company, but it clearly slipped down the list of priorities after that.
But Leonoudakis told Kotaku that the problem isn’t really with Sega; it’s with Keywords, which she claims prefers to be credited collectively as Keywords Studios, rather than listing each individual localiser by name. That means companies like Sega have to specifically prod the company for full lists in order to ensure that everyone who touched a game’s localisation gets properly credited, which clearly doesn’t always happen. Leonoudakis also claimed that she’s heard tales of Keywords workers being forbidden from speaking out about this practice, and that some of them have felt “low-key threatened” about it.
Regardless of whether or not Keywords has a concrete policy against providing full lists of localisers’ names or not, it’s woefully insufficient to think a blanket credit to the studio as a whole does the same job. Being able to point at your name in the credits of a major release like Persona is a big boost to a CV, so having years of your work ignored in the final product can be a blow to both your professional pride and future prospects.
Persona is far from the only game that’s drawn attention for failing to credit its workers recently. Devs on The Callisto Protocol, who worked under crunch conditions to get the game out the door, also found themselves erased from the game’s credits in the last couple of months. Even the co-creator of The Last of Us made the news recently when he complained of being left out of the HBO show’s credits, though I have to imagine he’ll have an easier time getting future work than the Callisto devs and Persona localisers.