Meta Didn't Translate Horizon Worlds Into Spanish for Launch in Spain

Meta Didn’t Translate Horizon Worlds Into Spanish for Launch in Spain

Mark Zuckerberg's avatar in Horizon Worlds is shown. In background you can see the Eiffel Tower and the completed Sagrada Familia.

“A palabras necias, oídos sordos.” That’s how Meta’s Horizon Worlds has been described in Spain after launching in the country earlier this week. The comment on YouTube —which literally means, “turn deaf ears on stubborn words”—was made in frustration over the fact that Meta didn’t seem to realize that people who played its Oculus virtual reality game in Spain would want to be able to understand what was happening.

“Keep on explaining things to me in English,” an annoyed member of the local outlet Real o Virtual said in a YouTube review of Horizon Worlds on Tuesday. “I’m not going to fucking listen to you.”

When asked about the lack of Spanish and bad Spanish in Horizon Worlds, a Facebook spokesperson told Gizmodo that the game was launching in Spain in an English-only capacity first.

“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,” Facebook spokeswoman Amy White told Gizmodo in an emailed statement on Friday. “We look forward to building a more localized experience soon.”

As a result of Gizmodo’s query, White said that Meta had updated its announcement on the launch in France and Spain on the Occulus blog. The updated statement reads as follows:

“Horizon Worlds has now launched in France and Spain in English only and will be coming to other countries soon.”

Horizon Worlds en España

Meta’s admission and Real o Virtual’s assessment of the Spanish Horizon Worlds are frankly astonishing, considering the billions the company has poured into pivoting to virtual reality and the nebulous metaverse. In Real o Virtual’s 13-minute review, which aimed to provide first impressions of the game, the outlet pointed out that right off the bat, Horizon Worlds’ pre-game configuration tutorial is only available in English audio with no Spanish subtitles. Things get worse when once you actually enter the game. Some sections offer a mix of Spanish and English, while others offer bad Spanish translations that even Spanish speakers like me can’t understand.

In the settings menu, for example, you have a tab for “movimiento,” or “movement,” which allows you to “move around with the left thumbstick.” “Movimiento” is also one of the few understandable Spanish words in that tab. When choosing a “movement style”—a settings option that is labeled and explained in English—you have a personalization option called “diapositiva,” which neither the reviewer nor I understand in this context. In Spanish, “diapositiva” refers to a “slide,” such as a PowerPoint slide. (It’s seems that Meta was trying to establish the “slide” as a movement style, but I only know that because I know Spanish and English and a bit about gaming).

I was going to suggest that maybe Meta got lazy and simply used Google Translate for its translations, but after checking, I wouldn’t want to insult Google Translate. It knows that “diapositiva” is a slide.

A screenshot of a Google Translate search for "diapositiva" is shown.

Google Translate can be hit or miss, but it’s definitely smarter than whatever or whoever did the translations at Meta.
Screenshot: Jody Serrano / Gizmodo

The same thing happens with “rotation angle,” a settings option that determines “how much you have to turn when you push your thumbstick left or right” and is again only explained in English. When it comes to personalization, you are allowed to choose between 30, 45, and 90 degrees as well as an option called “alisar,” which is a verb that means “to make smooth.” Again, you can see where Meta’s line of thinking was in this case, but using “alisar” in the context of “rotation angle” makes no sense at all.

The examples pointed out above are only a small fraction of more than a dozen pointed out by Real o Virtual in its review, which not only spans the settings, but also a first look at the Arena Clash game in Spain, a laser tag simulator that someone who doesn’t know English would have no idea how to play.

Overall, the mistakes in the game are so basic that a translator—heck, even Google Translate in some cases—could have picked them out in a flash.

“You can’t launch Horizon Worlds in Spain in English. Brilliant minds at Meta, CEOs that earn thousands of dollars per month, do you know that there are many languages in this world?” Real o Virtual asked in the YouTube Video. “That people not only like but need for things to be explained to them in their native language?”

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