Feline Ambitions: A Singapore Mobile Game Startup’s Internationalization Strategy

According to GamesIndustry.biz, Southeast Asia is the world’s fastest-growing mobile games market. The video games trade website estimates that key markets in the region (namely, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) generated about $2.6 billion in mobile games revenue in 2019.

where is Tabby App internationalizationTo tap on the region’s vast potential, Pangaea Interactive, a Singapore mobile game startup, will launch the country’s first-ever location-based mobile cat game in March 2020. With regional expansion in mind, Pangaea developed a comprehensive app internationalization strategy at the design and planning stage of the “Where is Tabby?” app.

“Where is Tabby?” App Internationalization

Mobile app internationalization (I18n) “is the process of customizing your code so that it is ready for localization and able to be modified and released in multiple languages.”

Localization (l10n) refers to ensuring the app is linguistically and culturally relevant to the target locale or market. Companies without a sound internationalization strategy at the design and planning stage of app development risk incurring hefty retrofitting costs at the localization stage.

From the very beginning, at the design and planning stage, Pangaea had recognized the importance of internationalizing the app for its Asian expansion.  Two aspects of the beta prototype design attest to this:

– Source language is kept simple  

Monosyllabic action verbs such as “get” and “buy”, and crisp commands such as “play” and “quit” are used in the app. The User Interface (UI) can accommodate CJK characters and longer texts.

– Texts are separable from images

Photoshop was used to design the images in the app, with separate layers for texts and images, thus allowing for texts to be replaced easily.

Preparing for Localization

Beyond Southeast Asia, Pangaea also plans to launch the app in the mature mobile game markets of Japan and Taiwan. As such, the company developed a culturally-relevant game story at the design and planning stage of the app.

The game story centres around rescuing Tabby and his friends from the dangers of living in the streets.  Tabby’s story dovetails with the culture of love and respect for cats in Japan and Taiwan. Some stray cats have become cultural icons and celebrities in these countries.

The game’s message of responsible pet ownership – and thus the need to ensure windows in high rise apartments are meshed, Tabby is groomed regularly and Tabby receives good nutrition –  is universal and can be adapted readily for different cat-friendly locales in the region.


By developing a comprehensive internationalization strategy at the design and planning stage of the product production process, Pangaea will save time, money and manpower when it is ready to expand overseas. Design and plan your products with internationalization and localization in mind.

Article written by Leona Lo, CAWEB Master’s