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Nier

It's Official, Almost 1 Year After it's Release Subarashiki Hibi One of the Best VN Ever Made Didn't Sell

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8 hours ago, Infernoplex said:

Say what you want about the first chapter, but it ended up being one of my favorites after finishing SubaHibi.

To be clear, I don't think the first chapter is bad. It serves as a nice introduction to the themes of the story, and the atmosphere is great. On the other hand, the slice-of-life parts aren't written particularly well, and if the other parts don't appeal to you, it might be a challenging task to finish it. And considering that this chapter doesn't even matter much before the very end of the story, in some cases it actually might be a good idea to simply skip it.

8 hours ago, Infernoplex said:

Still a good VN, but I wouldn't label it a "kamige" (there were things I really didn't like about SubaHibi).

To be honest, the whole "kamige" term is so pretentious that it shouldn't be used at all.

I personally quite like Subahibi. If I decide to make a list of all VNs I ever played, this one will definitely be in my top 5. At the same time, I can't say I consider it an "enlightening experience" like some other people. It was simply an enjoyable read, and though there are some moments that I didn't like at all (like, some h-scenes were really, really pointlessly fetishistic), I'm still willing to forgive it for them.

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Actually i liked "The End of Summer" ending very much, despite it being alternative. Of course the story kinda cuts off abruptly here, but one the other hand it was the only ending, not counting the very first chapter, that, technically

Spoiler

never happened,

where

Spoiler

Takashima is alive. I really like her and was very sad to know it's the canon and moreover, turning point of the game.

 

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It didn't sell because it doesn't have widespread appeal. Keep in mind that Subahibi was released in Japan in 2010, and in that year, 46 other games outsold it (according to the getchu sales rankings). 

A lot of people seem to think that just because a game is regarded highly (kamige or w/e) means it sold like hotcakes in Japan. That's oftentimes not the case, it just means that a larger percentage of the people that played it loved it.  

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Well first of all we still don't know about current sales for Subahibi/Wonderful Everyday here (Per July 2018), so we wouldn't know whether the low sales issue here is true or not. Second is that while there's a lot of the factor behind the stumbled release of Subahibi, keep in mind that this is the first time that Frontwing did their job as the publisher for the VN outside their company, so they probably fumbled over that moreso if we consider that Frontwing was probably still in need of some money. They only had one chapter that was available at Steam was definitely didn't help at all, and the price was definitely very steep for 'short' VN (At $30). So in the end while this is worrying issue, we'll just wait and see whether we can get more good VN like Subahibi or not. I can't say kamige though, because kamige here is pretty subjective matter although admittedly most of the so called example of kamige were pretty much well regarded.

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Subahibi was always a niche of a niche of a niche of a niche.

Like don't get me wrong but with a game so famous for being unapproachable which also deals explicitly and heavily deals with many different heavy subjects, is bound to narrow down its audience.

And this is a visual novel of all things, which means that it's already competing in an industry where popularity and success hinges entirely on word of mouth. 

This is as much the failure of the industry to generate centralized media platforms and forums for discussion of visual novels (the irony isn't lost on me), as much as it's the fault of anyone else.

Comparing this to DDLC is hilarious in its own way, because that's 1. free 2. made by someone who's already somewhat known in niche, English-speaking gaming circles.

I've seen no efforts to market this game. After it was pushed I don't recall it ever really being brought up for discussion on any place I follow.

What I'm trying to say is, there are more reasons for Subahibi's commercial failure than "b-but the visual novel fanses only like tiddies!".

There's very little actual critique of visual novels going around, and I think that's what makes it so difficult for niche VNs to survive.

(And for the record, I personally bought Subahibi full price on Steam, dropped it three chapters in, and I don't really regret my purchase.)

 

Edited by Funyarinpa

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And that's why you need to trick people into thinking they are before some moege shit. If you make a weird ass description and put it on sale, people is just gonna think "man, this sure looks like a dense and convoluted story" and stay away from it or put it off indefinitely. That's just the lazy way we humans work, and that's why I think it's not by chance or exclusively surprise value that many VNs are disguised and sold as something very different from what they truly are :leecher:

It's still a shame though, but I can't say I'm surprised. 

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20 hours ago, Funyarinpa said:

I've seen no efforts to market this game. After it was pushed I don't recall it ever really being brought up for discussion on any place I follow.

That I can agree with.

Plus the way the game was distributed originally was not good, people just want to click, download and play, just like every other game on Steam. They don't want some convoluted explanation about how they would pay to get 10 percent of a game and then have to use a patch that they would download from another unrelated website to blahablahablah.

It wasn't until the 30th May 2018 that the game finally became available on JAST USA as a stand-alone installer and the problem is that this fact was not mentioned anywhere else but in one of the Subarashiki Hibi Kickstarter updates, the second issue is that on the JAST USA online store games are ordered by release date of the game itself not by release date on the JAST USA website, so as soon as it got released on JAST USA website it was already burried under other titles which release dates were even younger than that of Subarashiki Hibi, not to mention I don't see JAST USA mentioning on their twitter the fact this this game was or is available on their webstore front, while they keep plugging JAST USA titles, even when it's very old titles such as Demonbane that they released all the way back in 2012, they even retweet their own tweets:

Yet as far as I could tell there was not a word about Subarashiki Hibi being made available on their store.

Really it's a big mess.

Edited by Nier

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2 hours ago, Hetzer123 said:

There are few standalone Frontwing's games on Jastusa so I am not sure about sales. If Frontwing release non-adult VNs(like Phantom Trigger), will people buy it on Jastusa instead of steam?

I tried to look for such a tweet but couldn't find it even when I scrolled down all the way to the 30th May, I did see an newer tweet about Momoiro Closet, but that's it. But anyway, it's obviously not very well advertised as I am sure most people don't even know that they carry this title.

The situation of Subarashiki Hibi on Steam is different than other titles for reasons that I explained above, basically JAST USA version is better than the Steam version because all you need to do is download and install it.

Edited by Nier

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Not really surprising considering most of the people that wanted the game actually backed it to begin with. To be completely fair since they didn't have to pay much to localize it (thanks to kickstarter) selling 2000 copies is actually quite good at what they were charging for it. You have to take in account there were about 1200 backers. Steam is not a good place really to sell really big visual novels like that because let's be honest most steam users just want to pay under 10 bucks for a quick read rather than read a multi-novel length visual novel priced at $30.00 +. Do take in account 2000 copies even if only half of them were at full price is still 30,000 in profit since localization was probably paid for. The issue is of course because of kickstarter they might have ended up paying more for extra merchandise and shipping and the like than they realized. Hard to say but doesn't seem too bad of a deal.

The other big issue is that visual novels have a negative perception in the west and because of that there is far less marketing OR people actually talking about the titles. The fact of the matter is that many visual novel readers don't like to say they read visual novels in public and because of this good games very rarely get any type of acclaim. It probably does not help that visual novels that take place in schools are kind of off putting for a western audience and they look at the description and don't give it a chance because of that material. The advertising for visual novels is also extremely limited with only a few websites actually seeming to care even somewhat about visual novels. It doesn't help that twitch bans most visual novels which means there can't be streams of them or even let's plays uploaded for the most part because of both youtube and their outdated mindset towards sexuality and Japan who have a business mindset of a decade ago. You don't see any big name visual novel youtubers (outside of the rare few here and there) so visual novels just don't have the marketability...yet. Time will tell if they ever manage to. Whether the game sold poorly compared to Japan is probably obvious but you can't grow a market without taking continual risks. All it takes is for one game to be noticed by the right person. 

Steam was not the right market for the game and it probably would have sold better at an actual visual novel store. Admittedly the fact the game was censored means a good portion of people will refuse to purchase it regardless.

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11 hours ago, Kiriririri said:

Meanwhile the English version has been pirated over 10k times

Yeah... You can pretty much see that by how the vndb votes are going, tons of votes and it's like in the top 10 of highest rated VNs on vndb, yet only 2-3k people own it on Steam (which include the Kickstarter backers which redeemed their Steam code that they got from pledging for a digital copy of the game on Kickstarter).

Unless a title already reached international renown (such as Steins;Gate, CLANNAD, Umineko) most people probably are only ready to pay big bucks for pure eroges and moeges, rather than story titles such as Subarashiki Hibi, Little Busters, Tokyo Babel, Rewrite, Gahkthun, SeaBed and such.

Edited by Nier

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Like others have said, Subarashiki Hibi is a niche of a niche. I know that it took me a while to be convinced that I should try it out, it seemed too complex and weird. And I am into strange stuff, but SubaHibi is "denpa" and I had never read anything like that (don't even understand the term). It's meant to have philosophical themes and some people say you need to read a bunch of stuff before comprehending the plot fully. It also doesn't help that it's meant to be disturbing. So I understand why people wouldn't pick it up.

It's not for everyone, and visual novels aren't mainstream (despite the DDLC phenomenon), so that's probably why it didn't sell much. I believe most VN readers aren't into that kind of story - don't blame 'em.

I finally started reading Subarashiki Hibi after some consideration and I was disappointed. Granted, I didn't finish it and I haven't read that many VNs to completion, but still... I shouldn't have listened to the hype. The only thing I got out of all these (wasted) hours is that the "kamige" title doesn't mean much.

The first chapter was extremely boring and I never knew what was real and what wasn't. It was like a dream, but not a good one - I was confused and the characters annoyed me except for Yuki and Tsukasa, and I do identify with Zakuro - I have things in common with her. I heard you understand chapter 1 after reading the rest but unfortunately I never got to the end.

Then, I don't remember much, but I believe I stopped midway in It's My Own Invention. Mamiya was fucked up, the rest of the classmates even more so, and I couldn't understand anything, a lot of the dialogue made no sense to me - probably because I didn't get the references. I was confused, and not getting much enjoyment. I wanted to go on, but I didn't want to waste more of my time either. There were a ton of things going on all at once.

Usually, when I watch or read something, I want to identify with the characters and most importantly, like them in some way. And I didn't like any of the characters except Ayana (for her mysterious and odd nature) and Yuki (she's cool, and it's nice to have more female protags).

SubaHibi along with Saya no Uta may have helped me tolerate more extreme stuff in VNs, because I finally gave in and tried Euphoria after reading these two. I actually enjoyed Saya no Uta though and for some reason Euphoria is interesting to me, and that's one thing I thought I'd never experience in my life. Haven't finished that one yet either...

 

Again, I am into weird things. I didn't want to hate SubaHibi but I did. It seemed right up my alley. I might attempt to finish SubaHibi in the future, but I know it will take a while, especially with my backlog.

Edited by Karin

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Gosh, I wish I didn't read this topic. Everybody knows that Nier is almost a denpa-boy himself but most still entertain his insanity without any real doubt or discussion. The amount of disinformation and pointless gloom is staggering here.

Edited by novurdim

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On 7/31/2018 at 12:45 PM, kokoro said:

It's even more depressing when you compare it to DDLC's numbers. 

I'm going to necro this thread and this post since I've been reminiscing about Suba Hibi recently, and your comment address exactly what I want to talk about.

It was very very unfortunate that DDLC was released only a month after Suba Hibi. It completely drowned out much of the attention that Suba Hibi should have received. DDLC was nothing more than a gimmick, and that made it easy to hog the spot light. A month is about the time it would have taken for enough people to have read Suba Hibi and for English speaking fans to promote it through discussions, fan-art, blogs, reviews, etc. Instead, the moment that the second wave of would-be fans could have come, they were instantly distracted by the piece of trash DDLC that everyone has already forgotten about. God, have I mentioned how much I hate DDLC for simply existing, it is nearly proportional to the amount that I Love Suba Hibi.

Suba Hibi is one of those few stories (in any medium), where if you give it a chance and read through the giant, it will leave a permanently good impression on you. Not just that, but it imparts with you a positive and hopeful outlook on life. I've had several deep conversations with people about how Suba Hibi helped them through depression. Its just that powerful of a work. 

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2 hours ago, Zalor said:

I'm going to necro this thread and this post since I've been reminiscing about Suba Hibi recently, and your comment address exactly what I want to talk about.

It was very very unfortunate that DDLC was released only a month after Suba Hibi. It completely drowned out much of the attention that Suba Hibi should have received. DDLC was nothing more than a gimmick, and that made it easy to hog the spot light. A month is about the time it would have taken for enough people to have read Suba Hibi and for English speaking fans to promote it through discussions, fan-art, blogs, reviews, etc. Instead, the moment that the second wave of would-be fans could have come, they were instantly distracted by the piece of trash DDLC that everyone has already forgotten about. God, have I mentioned how much I hate DDLC for simply existing, it is nearly proportional to the amount that I Love Suba Hibi.

Suba Hibi is one of those few stories (in any medium), where if you give it a chance and read through the giant, it will leave a permanently good impression on you. Not just that, but it imparts with you a positive and hopeful outlook on life. I've had several deep conversations with people about how Suba Hibi helped them through depression. Its just that powerful of a work. 

Do people really only have the mental capacity to think and talk about one game? If SubaHibi had a month to blow up and didn't, nothing less than a half year of radio silence would help it get noticed much more. Blaming DDLC on it is such a weird thing to do. Would YouTube let's players or Twitch streamers pick it up? Would it produce a meme and modding culture around it, getting the attention of non-niche players? Would it have a major success on Steam, with the shitty marketing it got?

And even beyond your thesis being delusional, what's the point of frustration here? We received a high-quality Western release of SubaHibi, can share it with others and appreciate it within the community. It was never going to be as popular in the West as it was in Japan, just because of how alien its formula is for the Western audience. It probably flopped much harder than it ever had to and might possibly discourage some companies from pursuing similar localisation projects... But as we can't really prove any of that, there's nothing to mourn here. Often good things don't get fully appreciated, while crap gets elevated to the Heavens (I still disagree on your assessment of DDLC BTW), but good things still get made and find their audience. Can't we just appreciate the good things, instead of obsessing over mass culture and how shitty it is?

Edited by Plk_Lesiak

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4 hours ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

*Snip*

First of all I do think that the attention span of public consciousness is pretty low. Just look at how fast people forget the scandals of politicians for instance. Its surely not limited to VN fans, but just a general truth. In that sense, I think my point has some validity. However, I will not disagree that I am perhaps a bit too optimistic about the could-have-been scenario of a delayed release of DDLC, and how that scenario could have effected Suba Hibi. It is quite possible that it wouldn't have gathered much more attention regardless of an absence of competition with DDLC. 

There was a lot of hope riding on Suba Hibi being the VN to convince a broader mass of people that VNs are much more than their stereotype. Certainly I held this hope, and I think many other fans of Suba Hibi who read it in Japanese prior to the Eng-release had similar hopes. Back when my Japanese wasn't as advance, I spent a good 6-months reading Suba Hibi when I had free time. I spent a long time with it. At the end of the journey after many twists and turns, it was overwhelming how satisfying the experience was. A lot of criticisms that people give Suba Hibi were thoughts I had my self (I almost dropped the VN twice), and yet despite these flaws, by the end of the journey the story came together perfectly. Every single problem I had with the VN at one point or another, were actually all there for a much grander purpose. I even wrote a whole article/blog post defending the first chapter of Suba Hibi for the incoming English readers that were soon to arrive. Part of that article was simply to organize my own thoughts, but there was also the motivation to convince people that the seemingly irrelevant first chapter does have a purpose to it. That the first impression the first chapter offers is extremely deceptive. I desperately wanted to see this VN succeed in the west. And the fact that DDLC's release date did potentially steal attention as well as the fact that I don't think its nearly as good of a VN, is expressed in my resentment towards it. 

But yes, attachments such as mine aren't exactly rational. And thank God for that, as there is no beauty in cold rationality. The natural response to profound beauty is irrational love. And like how a mother will defend her flawed children and desperately hope to see them succeed, I have similar sentiments about Suba Hibi. 

  

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49 minutes ago, Zalor said:

First of all I do think that the attention span of public consciousness is pretty low. Just look at how fast people forget the scandals of politicians for instance. Its surely not limited to VN fans, but just a general truth. In that sense, I think my point has some validity. However, I will not disagree that I am perhaps a bit too optimistic about the could-have-been scenario of a delayed release of DDLC, and how that scenario could have effected Suba Hibi. It is quite possible that it wouldn't have gathered much more attention regardless of an absence of competition with DDLC. 

There was a lot of hope riding on Suba Hibi being the VN to convince a broader mass of people that VNs are much more than their stereotype. Certainly I held this hope, and I think many other fans of Suba Hibi who read it in Japanese prior to the Eng-release had similar hopes. Back when my Japanese wasn't as advance, I spent a good 6-months reading Suba Hibi when I had free time. I spent a long time with it. At the end of the journey after many twists and turns, it was overwhelming how satisfying the experience was. A lot of criticisms that people give Suba Hibi were thoughts I had my self (I almost dropped the VN twice), and yet despite these flaws, by the end of the journey the story came together perfectly. Every single problem I had with the VN at one point or another, were actually all there for a much grander purpose. I even wrote a whole article/blog post defending the first chapter of Suba Hibi for the incoming English readers that were soon to arrive. Part of that article was simply to organize my own thoughts, but there was also the motivation to convince people that the seemingly irrelevant first chapter does have a purpose to it. That the first impression the first chapter offers is extremely deceptive. I desperately wanted to see this VN succeed in the west. And the fact that DDLC's release date did potentially steal attention as well as the fact that I don't think its nearly as good of a VN, is expressed in my resentment towards it. 

But yes, attachments such as mine aren't exactly rational. And thank God for that, as there is no beauty in cold rationality. The natural response to profound beauty is irrational love. And like how a mother will defend her flawed children and desperately hope to see them succeed, I have similar sentiments about Suba Hibi. 

  

The way you put your words made me want to read Suba Hibi, gonna start right away, thanks.

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9 hours ago, Zalor said:

But yes, attachments such as mine aren't exactly rational. And thank God for that, as there is no beauty in cold rationality. The natural response to profound beauty is irrational love. And like how a mother will defend her flawed children and desperately hope to see them succeed, I have similar sentiments about Suba Hibi.

I could absolutely respect that and keep my mouth shut, but the weird conspiratorial stuff triggered me a bit. Also, while I understand your devotion to SubaHibi, why are we even talking about the commercial success of the English version as something this meaningful? I regularly see people talking about SubaHibi, discussing it and recommending it to others, and outside of that one person on the Forums triggered by the car rant, I have yet to read a bad word about it. It's neither forgotten nor unappreciated.

But, I guess it's all subjective. The one thing I hate, however, is mixing being butthurt about something bad being popular (even though I know how intense these feelings can be, I've somewhat recently had that experience with The Force Awakens, which I hate with a burning passion, maybe even more than The Last Jedi) with blaming that thing for This Person's Favourite Niche Masterpiece® not finding success. These arguments are always delusional at best and obnoxious elitist at worst (those filthy masses watching Michel Bay movies instead of appreciating REAL ART). Everyone has the right to be irrationally in love with a piece of media, but let's keep some basic connection to reality when talking about it.

Edited by Plk_Lesiak

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16 hours ago, Bango said:

The way you put your words made me want to read Suba Hibi, gonna start right away, thanks.

I'm glad to hear that! I hope you enjoy it ^_^

8 hours ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

I could absolutely respect that and keep my mouth shut, but the weird conspiratorial stuff triggered me a bit. Also, while I understand your devotion to SubaHibi, why are we even talking about the commercial success of the English version as something this meaningful? I regularly see people talking about SubaHibi, discussing it and recommending it to others, and outside of that one person on the Forums triggered by the car rant, I have yet to read a bad word about it. It's neither forgotten nor unappreciated.

Commercial success of English versions are important so that Japanese VN studios will want to continue collaborating with English localizing teams/companies. In the OP it shows a screen cap of a twitter post by Sca-ji (the creator of Suba Hibi) lamenting the unpopulartiy of Suba Hibi in the west, and he also mentions that さや教, which is short for Sayonara wo Oshiete would likely also do just as, if not more poorly. Thus implying that it wouldn't be worth localizing it. Sayonara is also among my favorite VN titles, and to much disappointment the fan translation team seemed to have dropped it. So it doesn't look like it will ever makes its way into English, not in the foreseeable future at least.

A few years back, it was absolutely shocking to see big name VNs such as Suba Hibi, Dies Irae, Little Busters, etc getting endorsed English translations. Japanese companies are super conservative and this was a big gamble for them. The fact that the results were so disappointing will strongly discourage them from being so generous or adventurous in the future. So as you can see, the relative flop of Suba Hibi doesn't just effect itself, but the likelihood of getting other quality JPN only VNs from getting official English releases.    

I don't have the data, but I don't think Dies Irae did that well either. This mission of localizing several kamige resulted in a huge failure, and that makes it unlikely that we will see more quality Japanese VNs getting localized. 

A lot of work went into all of these kamige, a lot of negotiating happened to get the opportunity for an English localization, and then a lot of effort also went into translating and creating an English version. To then see DDLC (which Im sure lots of hard work went into it, but comparatively not as much) succeed so much more is frustrating. But whats most frustrating, is that DDLC made a huge hit, but there was little trickle down (from my observation at least). Meaning, DDLC's success doesn't seem to have created a significant amount of new VN fans. This is quite contrary to Katawa Shoujo, which actually brought in a lot of westerners into this niche medium.  

As somebody who has been on and off active in the VN community for almost 6 years, I see DDLC as a project done by a complete outsider who only subverted the stereotypes of VNs and who made little homage (aside from mockery and subversion) of VNs. While Katawa Shoujo was a sort of love song to VNs, DDLC feels like an outsider making fun of this niche. Granted, it did do some very interesting things. But I think it had a minimal net positive impact in expanding the market for Japanese VNs, if not had a slightly negative influence. 

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