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aliciarune

Are Visual Novels Growing in the West/Other Countries?

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Just asking a simple and common question. But I am asking because I read a thread about Subarashiki Hibi and how it and games like Little Busters have sold really badly. Find this sad because the former I brought and thought it seems weird, have a good story. And Little Busters is really good overall since I like romance and drama with a mix of comedy. ButI thought visual novels were growing as a market. Is this untrue?

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Are you referring to sales of Japanese VNs outside Japan, OELVN, or both? What I know is that low sales in Japan pressure companies to localize their products as there are more VNs localized compare to decade ago.

Edited by Hetzer123

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9 minutes ago, Hetzer123 said:

Are you referring to sales of Japanese VNs outside Japan, OELVN, or both? What I know is that low sales in Japan pressure companies to localize their products as there are more VNs localized compare to decade ago.

 

Both actually. For English creators and for JVN'S. I've brought quite a few. I actually thought Little Busters did well but it seems I may be wrong =(. If OELVN'S are doing well, why do people play them but also JVN's 

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2 minutes ago, novurdim said:

Wait, since when LB sold really badly by the western standards :michiru:

I read it here https://forums.fuwanovel.net/topic/20818-its-official-almost-1-year-after-its-release-subarashiki-hibi-one-of-the-best-vn-ever-made-didnt-sell/

It's mainly about Subarashiki, but if you read through the comments people say Little Busters hasn't been selling well either. 

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4 minutes ago, aliciarune said:

I read it here https://forums.fuwanovel.net/topic/20818-its-official-almost-1-year-after-its-release-subarashiki-hibi-one-of-the-best-vn-ever-made-didnt-sell/

It's mainly about Subarashiki, but if you read through the comments people say Little Busters hasn't been selling well either. 

BTW, what are the incentive of buying directly on Steam if they already funded the kickstarter. Not sure if Steam sales will be bigger if FW didn't use kickstarter.

Edited by Hetzer123

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It's extremely hard to measure this reliably. I'd say its most likely that the VN market outside of Japan (not counting China, which is definitely a huge growing market, but in many ways a separate issue from the Western scene), including both localisation and original-English releases is growing, but competition is ramping up faster than the actual audience. Sales are dropping and more big releases underperform, not because there are fewer people interested in VNs, but because there's a lot of titles to choose from. Maybe even to the point where the current output of VN studios and localisation companies is unsustainable - at least outside of straight-up nukige, because if Nekopara taught us anything, it is that high-quality Japanese porn can break the cultural barriers quite well, while something with an actual story will have a much harder job doing so. :>

Edited by Plk_Lesiak

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7 minutes ago, aliciarune said:

I read it here https://forums.fuwanovel.net/topic/20818-its-official-almost-1-year-after-its-release-subarashiki-hibi-one-of-the-best-vn-ever-made-didnt-sell/

It's mainly about Subarashiki, but if you read through the comments people say Little Busters hasn't been selling well either. 

Ignoring the fact that you should take anything Nier says with a grain of salt and assuming he is right, 6.5k for the first week is pretty darn far from terrible for a VN on the western market. I don't know what expectations VA had for it after Clannad but I wish the general VN sales in the west could let us consider this a bad number.

Edited by novurdim

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14 minutes ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

It's extremely hard to measure this reliably. I'd say its most likely that the VN market outside of Japan (not counting China, which is definitely a huge growing market, but in many ways a separate issue from the Western scene), including both localisation and original-English releases is growing, but competition is ramping up faster than the actual audience. Sales are dropping and more big releases underperform, not because there are fewer people interested in VNs, but because there's a lot of titles to choose from. Maybe even to the point where the current output of VN studios and localisation companies is unsustainable - at least outside of straight-up nukige, because if Nekopara taught us anything, it is that high-quality Japanese porn can break the cultural barriers quite well, while something with an actual story will have a much harder job doing so. :>

Well this makes sense. I guess it's why games like Crush Crush and that adult dating sim are doing well because they have an audience. I just hope more story based visual novels (even if they have adult content and/or fan service) will be able to do better. I'm wary of selling on steam to be honest given how many just want adult content. Maybe I didn't go the right direction with my game ;-;. 

 

13 minutes ago, novurdim said:

Ignoring the fact that you should take anything Nier says with a grain of salt and assuming he is right, 6.5k for the first week is pretty darn far from terrible for a VN on the western market. I don't know what expectations VA had for it after Clannad but I wish the general VN sales in the west could let us consider this a bad number.

I haven't seen this user's posts often, so I'm not sure why I should be wary of what he says. Also, I'm a bit confused, are you saying it didn't do well? Or did it?

 

19 minutes ago, Hetzer123 said:

BTW, what are the incentive of buying directly on Steam if they already funded the kickstarter. Not sure if Steam sales will be bigger if FW didn't use kickstarter.

I think to sell to people who haven't backed kickstarter or something. Maybe hoping more people will play it. 

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16 minutes ago, aliciarune said:

I think to sell to people who haven't backed kickstarter or something. Maybe hoping more people will play it. 

I am aware about non-backer buying on Steam.  What I am questioning is that why would those backers  poured a lot of money into kickstarter would re-buy the game(unless those backer can't get the steam key). I find those sales misleading because the Subahibi kickstarter was well-funded and if kickstater was not used, they could buy it only on Steam instead of Kickstarter therefore larger Steam sales.

Edited by Hetzer123

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2 minutes ago, Hetzer123 said:

I am aware about non-backer buying on Steam.  What I am questioning is that why would those backers  poured a lot of money into kickstarter would re-buy the game(unless those backer can't get the key). I find those sales misleading because the Subahibi kickstarter was well-funded and if kickstater was not used, they could be buy it only on Steam instead of Kickstarter therefore larger Steam sales.

I see. That's a good question. For some KS, they offer backers who pledged a certain amount the game for free. I'm not sure what localizing companies do though. I don't really know why this happens 

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7 minutes ago, aliciarune said:

I haven't seen this user's posts often, so I'm not sure why I should be wary of what he says. Also, I'm a bit confused, are you saying it didn't do well? Or did it?

Since you have not seen and not sure, I'm mentioning that we shouldn't treat those numbers as accurate or official.

And, well, I'm just repeating myself but I basically said that it did well for a first week on a pretty mediocre as a whole western market. At least I believe so. Did it do well in general sense for this specific publisher? I don't know, nobody does, you should ask Visual Arts CEO, only they know what numbers can be considered good for their localizations. Answering your initial question: no, I highly doubt that Visual Novels are growing in the West at this point, they were a relatively popular gimmick for a short time but now that bubble has burst. There are some rare hits but that's it, West won't save VNs or anything, its market isn't even nearly as big as chinese. Make this five times worse for the plot-oriented VNs.

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4 minutes ago, novurdim said:

Since you have not seen and not sure, I'm mentioning that we shouldn't treat those numbers as accurate or official.

And, well, I'm just repeating myself but I basically said that it did well for a first week on a pretty mediocre as a whole western market. At least I believe so. Did it do well in general sense for this specific publisher? I don't know, nobody does, you should ask Visual Arts CEO, only they know what numbers can be considered good for their localizations. Answering your initial question: no, I highly doubt that Visual Novels are growing in the West at this point, they were a relatively popular gimmick for a short time but now that bubble has burst. There are some rare hits but that's it, West won't save VNs or anything, its market isn't even nearly as big as chinese. Make this five times worse for the plot-oriented VNs.

Thanks for clarifying. 

 

And though I respect your opinion and this is only my own, I don't believe that is entirely true about vn's. I've see new groups getting a decent following and some of the good vn's on steam seem to do decently well. Not as well as compared to bigger titles or fan service ones, but a part of me thinks visual novels are growing. I highly doubt they'll be super well known but I prefer to positive. 

Edited by aliciarune

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6 minutes ago, aliciarune said:

And though I respect your opinion and this is only my own, I don't believe that is entirely true about vn's. I've see new groups getting a decent following and some of the good vn's on steam seem to do decently well. Not as well as compared to bigger titles or fan service ones, but a part of me thinks visual novels are growing. I highly doubt they'll be super well known but I prefer to positive.

Well, I may have painted too grim of a picture, the sales have surely grown a lot compared to, say, 2010-2012, and we do get a lot more localizations in the latest years (and even some big shots) since West is now considered a real market. So yeah, on the positive side we have come a long way and do live in a comparatively great age. We even have a chance to gripe about some of the best eroges not selling as much as we hoped they would. My 2010 self would surely slap me for being too depressive.

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2 minutes ago, novurdim said:

Well, I may have painted too grim of a picture, the sales have surely grown a lot compared to, say, 2010-2012, and we do get a lot more localizations in the latest years (and even some big shots) since West is now considered a real market. So yeah, on the positive side we have come a long way and do live in a comparatively great age. We even have a chance to gripe about some of the best eroges not selling as much as we hoped they would. My 2010 self would surely slap me for being too depressive.

Well, I get you for for being negative about it. Honestly, I'm seeing this on the side of EVN's and not the bigger picture so I could be wrong, and I do apologize. I guess I just feel like vn's are like books (though novels are not niche), but that people will always want to read them. Yeah, I highly doubt will be up there will things like the Witcher franchise, but I hope more better visual novels, both EVN and JVN can come out. Things like the Sakura series really hurt the way people see visual novels as. Maybe the problem is games like that are what hurt it. I'm not talking about Hunie Pop or Crush Crush/Hush Hush. It's fine to have adults game. At least those have substance. So I'm hoping more titles come out both translated and Evn's. Wish there was a way to make vn's a little more popular or at least a little more respected. 

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1 hour ago, aliciarune said:

Well this makes sense. I guess it's why games like Crush Crush and that adult dating sim are doing well because they have an audience. I just hope more story based visual novels (even if they have adult content and/or fan service) will be able to do better. I'm wary of selling on steam to be honest given how many just want adult content. Maybe I didn't go the right direction with my game ;-;. 

Well, I wouldn't be this negative about it. Despite what many people say nowadays, it's still way better to be on Steam than not being on it, especially if you have a game that stands out positively in some way and put some basic effort into promoting it. Those creepy people asking for an h-patch for your non-porn game shouldn't discourage you, they're a thing, but it doesn't mean there's no market for proper plot-centred VNs (especially decent-looking yuri). :)

17 minutes ago, aliciarune said:

Well, I get you for for being negative about it. Honestly, I'm seeing this on the side of EVN's and not the bigger picture so I could be wrong, and I do apologize. I guess I just feel like vn's are like books (though novels are not niche), but that people will always want to read them. Yeah, I highly doubt will be up there will things like the Witcher franchise, but I hope more better visual novels, both EVN and JVN can come out. Things like the Sakura series really hurt the way people see visual novels as. Maybe the problem is games like that are what hurt it. I'm not talking about Hunie Pop or Crush Crush/Hush Hush. It's fine to have adults game. At least those have substance. So I'm hoping more titles come out both translated and Evn's. Wish there was a way to make vn's a little more popular or at least a little more respected. 

I'm not sure if Sakura games didn't just enforce the already-existing stereotype. After all, apart from being cheap and particularly dumb, they aren't that much different from the Japanese ecchi VNs. It's easy to see why it's hard for most people to differentiate between the proper story-centric VNs and the sea of crappy hentai games they float in.

...and to be perfectly honest, I don't even know if I have genuine respect for VNs as a medium - I love them for sure, but I also see how porn-obsessed and creatively bankrupt much of the JVN market is and how EVNs often borrow all the wrong parts of the formula. Plus the Japanese companies, even if they have titles that are really worth promoting, very rarely want to invest real money into marketing outside of Japan and reaching out to anyone outside of the already-established VN community. VNs are limited by their nature and their origins above all, and the best that we can do is to promote (or create) ones that escape the negative stereotypes. The genre already escaped from total obscurity and can only go up from here (unless some major media company takes a closer look at Fakku release of Maitetsu ;p).

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5 minutes ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

Well, I wouldn't be this negative about it. Despite what many people say nowadays, it's still way better to be on Steam than not being on it, especially if you have a game that stands out positively in some way and put some basic effort into promoting it. Those creepy people asking for an h-patch for your non-porn game shouldn't discourage you, they're a thing, but it doesn't mean there's no market for proper plot-centred VNs (especially decent-looking yuri). :)

I'm not sure if Sakura games didn't just enforce the already-existing stereotype. After all, apart from being cheap and particularly dumb, they aren't that much different from the Japanese ecchi VNs. It's easy to see why it's hard for most people to differentiate between the proper story-centric VNs and the sea of crappy hentai games they float in.

...and to be perfectly honest, I don't even know if I have genuine respect for VNs as a medium - I love them for sure, but I also see how porn-obsessed and creatively bankrupt much of the JVN market is and how EVNs often borrow all the wrong parts of the formula. Plus the Japanese companies, even if they have titles that are really worth promoting, very rarely want to invest real money into marketing outside of Japan and reaching out to anyone outside of the already-established VN community. VNs are limited by their nature and their origins above all, and the best that we can do is to promote (or create) ones that escape the negative stereotypes. The genre already escaped from total obscurity and can only go up from here (unless some major media company takes a closer look at Fakku release of Maitetsu ;p).

Thanks Plk_Lesiak. That gives me some hope since I'm making some yuri vn's lol (Thank fully one not based in high school lol). But anyway, I understand what you mean. I know plot-centered visual novels aren't super popular, but I hope they grow a bit more. I'm not against adult content either, but it can be annoying when people tell a creator to put it in when they don't want to. That's when I get kind of put off. 

And yeah, they didn't start it. But for a while, Sakura games were popular for the fan service and cheap prices. Many players didn't want to spend big bucks on the better titles, so instead they went to titles like the Sakura game and the formula became even more popular. But Neko Para is a big player in why we see so many of these games. Granted, I don't think all visual novels need to be plot heavy and can be like Neko Para. My problem is when they do come out, seems people don't take notice or complain about it not having enough fan service. 

 

Well, I can't really blame you. I may feel the same way. I've read some of the more popular JVN visual novels and I can tell you many of them have annoyed me at times by the horrible tropes used. Like best guy friend. That trope irritates me even in EVN's. As for copying trope, it's not necessarily a bad thing as long as it's handled well. However the porn part is a big problem. I don't think I've read a vn yet with decent sex scenes. It's more just eye candy. And yeah, the ideas the JVN market put out seem to always be the same. I agree games that are more diverse or original should also gain some spotlight. Sadly it's hard for them. Even now on KS, there's a really unique game about man eating monsters and humans having to coexsist together. Sadly, I don't think it'll make. Granted though, they may not be advertising it well. 

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11 hours ago, aliciarune said:

That gives me some hope since I'm making some yuri vn's lol (Thank fully one not based in high school lol). But anyway, I understand what you mean. I know plot-centered visual novels aren't super popular, but I hope they grow a bit more.

Well, I can't really blame you. I may feel the same way. I've read some of the more popular JVN visual novels and I can tell you many of them have annoyed me at times by the horrible tropes used. Like best guy friend. That trope irritates me even in EVN's. As for copying trope, it's not necessarily a bad thing as long as it's handled well. However the porn part is a big problem. I don't think I've read a vn yet with decent sex scenes. It's more just eye candy. And yeah, the ideas the JVN market put out seem to always be the same. I agree games that are more diverse or original should also gain some spotlight. Sadly it's hard for them.

Nowadays, if the VNs have long story, developers are more likely to release as episodic VNs than long standalone VNs.

I am more likely to find story-line diversity in regular games than VNs. Those VNs developer seems to fear that using different trope are more likely to result in loss of sales.
 

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On 10.2.2019 at 12:56 AM, aliciarune said:

However the porn part is a big problem. I don't think I've read a vn yet with decent sex scenes. It's more just eye candy.

Yes indeed, I agree. I think this is THE problem for the VN industry. It is what makes the VN niche dubious for most people. It is what makes getting into VNs really hard when you first start. And I have yet to find a really good and storywise necessary sex scene as well. Although I might have missed some by playing Steam versions of VNs where they are cut out. But that's also the best thing about VNs on Steam. You can be pretty sure you won't have to deal with that stuff if you don't want to (if you WANT TO you can always download a patch somewhere). While reading Steam VNs I have quite often realized that I just missed an H-scene, and I was almost always grateful for it because in most cases it would have destroyed the romantic atmosphere at that moment.

But to answer your original question: I am totally in accordance with Plk_Lesiak here... I, too, think that VNs have definitely become a lot more popular during the last years, but the amount of VNs available has also drastically increased so in the end making good money with VNs is just as hard as 10 years ago just because poeple have a much wider choice to choose from (and newcomers might still read famous older VNs rather than ones that just came out).

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On 2/9/2019 at 5:56 PM, aliciarune said:

Thanks Plk_Lesiak. That gives me some hope since I'm making some yuri vn's lol (Thank fully one not based in high school lol). But anyway, I understand what you mean. I know plot-centered visual novels aren't super popular, but I hope they grow a bit more. I'm not against adult content either, but it can be annoying when people tell a creator to put it in when they don't want to. That's when I get kind of put off. 

And yeah, they didn't start it. But for a while, Sakura games were popular for the fan service and cheap prices. Many players didn't want to spend big bucks on the better titles, so instead they went to titles like the Sakura game and the formula became even more popular. But Neko Para is a big player in why we see so many of these games. Granted, I don't think all visual novels need to be plot heavy and can be like Neko Para. My problem is when they do come out, seems people don't take notice or complain about it not having enough fan service. 

 

Well, I can't really blame you. I may feel the same way. I've read some of the more popular JVN visual novels and I can tell you many of them have annoyed me at times by the horrible tropes used. Like best guy friend. That trope irritates me even in EVN's. As for copying trope, it's not necessarily a bad thing as long as it's handled well. However the porn part is a big problem. I don't think I've read a vn yet with decent sex scenes. It's more just eye candy. And yeah, the ideas the JVN market put out seem to always be the same. I agree games that are more diverse or original should also gain some spotlight. Sadly it's hard for them. Even now on KS, there's a really unique game about man eating monsters and humans having to coexsist together. Sadly, I don't think it'll make. Granted though, they may not be advertising it well. 

All I saw was non high school yuri and got excited. What are you planning on making?

As to the question I would say that it is probably gotten popular of late, it certainly has grown considerably more from way back when I had just joined the scene. I think more people at least know about there existence. I worry though that many are turned off by the utter shit and rubbish vns that seem to fester on steam. I suppose that is just the way of the world.

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Both aspects of the OP are correct.  VNs are growing in the West.  And they still do pretty crappy numbers.

Eight years ago, MangaGamer removed the voices from Koihime because they were too expensive to license.  They said they'd get added back when the title sold 2K copies.  That did eventually happen, a year or so later.  After MG decided to cheat a little bit and count the first print run of the hard copy as 'units sold' (they didn't want to print voiceless copies).

That is ... terrible performance.  But it was enough to make the title one of MangaGamer's most successful.  VNs sell so poorly that even a huge improvement still leaves them pretty awful.

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Well, what i can say for sure is its growth if my country, also from the West, Brazil. No, it isn't growing in official translation nor on development, but it is growing in popularity, for sure. The numbers of brazilian who speaks English is growing at an tremendous speed, so it's popularity in Brazil is also growing, we also began to make fanbased translation, so its popularity also got boosted because of that, it is just a question of time before we begin to have official translation, or maybe even VNs made here.

 

Taking in consideration that Brazil is the fifth biggest country in extension (for reference, it would be bigger than the US if not for Alaska) and fifth biggest country in population, i think that's a somewhat good sign of growth.

Edited by Sekan Orochi

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On 2/16/2019 at 2:49 AM, Sekan Orochi said:

Well, what i can say for sure is its growth if my country, also from the West, Brazil. No, it isn't growing in official translation nor on development, but it is growing in popularity, for sure. The numbers of brazilian who speaks English is growing at an tremendous speed, so it's popularity in Brazil is also growing, we also began to make fanbased translation, so its popularity also got boosted because of that, it is just a question of time before we begin to have official translation, or maybe even VNs made here.

 

Taking in consideration that Brazil is the fifth biggest country in extension (for reference, it would be bigger than the US if not for Alaska) and fifth biggest country in population, i think that's a somewhat good sign of growth.

I wonder about the translation into which languages are worth for official ones. I aware about the market for ENG and CN. There are many issue for other languages as they require high population of people with large amount of disposable income and strong otaku culture.

Edited by Hetzer123

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12 hours ago, Hetzer123 said:

I wonder about the translation into which languages are worth for official ones. I aware about the market for ENG and CN. There are many issue for other languages as they require high population of people with large amount of disposable income and strong otaku culture.

Brazil not only is the fifth biggest country in population, but we also have the biggest Japanese community outside of Japan, since we have great ties of relationship with them.
I can't find one person that doesn't know about animes around here, of course, the elder ones doesn't know, but still. 

However, about disposable income, i can't say for sure, see, we just went through one of our worst economic crisis that just began to calm down, we even went through a impeachment, a lot of people fell into the lower classes, however, i can't explain without sounding like a idiot, but even the poorest person here can easily buy "expensive" stuff, our average montly income is R$1.200,00, which is around 324 US Dollars, that's around how much a average person can get working 6 hours a day, monday to friday. for 1 month, plus, when foreign companies tries to sell their stuff here, they have to pay a tariff, which increases the price of the product, for example, a PS4 is around R$2.000, or $540, and your income per month is only 324 dollars.

 

This may sound like most people are poor, yeah, but no. For some random reason even NASA fails to answer, iPhone and the most expensive things is more commonly used for the lower class than the upper class, which uses Android, which is cheaper. The taxes for the riches is huge, and for the poor, is almost non-existent, plus a lot of help and support from the governament makes even the lowest class be able to buy those things.

 

Most of brazilians live for the "today", never for "tomorrow", so most of them doesn't care about spending most of their income, if not all of it, in disposable things, so i'm pretty sure people would buy VNs here.

 

You know, i'm middle-upper class, i don't have a PS4 because it's not worth the money, i don't have a lot of things because i don't really care, but the person that worked for me lives with a low income, she lives in a "favela", places most commonly know because it's managed by gangs, laws are non-existent there, most of them lives with a low income, but EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM, idk how, i simply cannot understand, owns a PS4, a PS3, a HUGE TV, a huge house, no, it's not stolen, it's governament welfare at its best.

 

So yeah, imo, i'm pretty sure VNs would sell here.

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