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NowItsAngeTime

Western Visual Novel Publishers Often Release Games at a Loss Due to Piracy (ft. words from CEO of Sol Press, Xeviax)

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https://noisypixel.net/western-visual-novel-piracy-hurting-industry/

If the 1 purchase: 5 illegal downloads ratio is actually true, then VN fans could make an actual case being the most entitled fanbase ever for demanding so much quality in releases but rarely actually buying

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I don't get why people wouldn't want to support companies that produce quality products, so they can keep producing them. If this is true, then you're right. They just want everything handed to them on a silver platter. It doesn't seem like they care enough, and if they're not willing to pay for it, they don't actually like VNs as much as they say they do.

Of course, I hope this isn't the case.

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I would assume it has to do with so many VN fans having started before there were a decent amount of officially translated VNs and because of this a culture of piracy has been established and lots of newer people getting into it getting advice from these people. Also one thing I think has somewhat of an effect is newer people asking for recommendations getting recommended things that only has a fanpatch thus starting of pirating which just makes it much easier for them to continue doing so. 

Also due to the length of VNs I think people who pirtate are unlikely to buy something they enjoy. For instance with anime since so many of them are rather short it is possible for people to watch a ton of anime through piracy and then among their favorites pick out which to buy on blu-ray or by merchendise. With the length of a VN it is unlikely that people would want to reread it and a digital download is not as enticing as a physical product like a blu-ray for instance and then for the physical versions of VNs many people don't want to import them either because they don't want physical 18+ stuff or are scared because loli character or semi loli characters being taken as illegal material. 

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Just now, bakauchuujin said:

 Many people don't want to import them either because they don't want physical 18+ stuff or are scared because loli character or semi loli characters being taken as illegal material. 

This is indeed a legit fear in the west.

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Quote

The main reason visual novels are released at a loss is attributed to game piracy. Michael gave us an example of this by saying, “In the games industry, typically for every 5 purchases, you have 1 person pirate your game, but in the visual novel industry for every 1 purchase, you have 5 people who torrent the game. You look at the number of downloads compared to sells and see that you have 1,000 sells versus 5,000 downloads.” He adds, “It’s tough to not get disheartened by the whole thing.”

I have no idea where he's getting the 1 in 6 piracy rate for the games industry. Most things I can find seem to find a floor at 50% pirated (niche things as far as I can tell, so ideally VNs should be here, but also they're expensive and Japanese porn), with quite a few things hitting 80%. This article is from 2011 so it's possible something's changed due to easier-to-access digital sales platforms, but I really don't know.

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5 minutes ago, Zakamutt said:

I have no idea where he's getting the 1 in 6 piracy rate for the games industry. Most things I can find seem to find a floor at 50% pirated (niche things as far as I can tell, so ideally VNs should be here, but also they're expensive and Japanese porn), with quite a few things hitting 80%. This article is from 2011 so it's possible something's changed due to easier-to-access digital sales platforms, but I really don't know.

I'm guessing considering he's the CEO of his own company, he's basing it off the VNs his company sells using combined sales of SOl's from their site, Steam, Discord,and other sites

Then researches the popular places to torrent VNs.

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Just now, NowItsAngeTime said:

I'm guessing considering he's the CEO of his own company, he's basing it off the VNs his company sells using combined sales of SOl's from their site, Steam, Discord,and other sites

Then researches the popular places to torrent VNs.

No, I mean the piracy rate for ordinary games he's contrasting it with.

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I'm also not sure whether I believe there's that big of a difference between the piracy rate for normal games and VNs, but I can easily believe its significant. There's, quite obviously, the issue of pirating AAA games being pretty inconvenient, with those giant files and having to skip on online functionalities that are often quite important nowadays, while the network of eroge torrents is just as vibrant as ever and involves no sacrifices whatsoever. Also, with most indie games you only need a bit of patience and you'll be able to get them dirt-cheap on a Steam Sale or some bundle. JVNs, on the other hand, are pretty pricy and rarely get serious discounts. Before I seriously got into VNs, I had Fruit of Grisaia on my Steam wishlist for literal years and never got to buying it, as it simply seemed overpriced for my 2nd-world-country, not-yet-fully-weeb mind. I'd definitely pirate it if I had less moral qualms about it and let's not kid ourselves, most people on the web really don't care enough to hesitate and with eroge, more often then not, they're just a few clicks away from getting what they want for free.

Edited by Plk_Lesiak

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3 minutes ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

I'm also not sure whether I believe there's that big of a difference between the piracy rate for normal games and VNs, but I can easily believe its significant. There's, quite obviously, the issue of pirating AAA games being pretty inconvenient, with those giant files and having to skip on online functionalities that are often quite important nowadays, while the network of eroge torrents is just as vibrant as ever and involves no sacrifices whatsoever.

I think the way people get into games and VNs are quite different and I would assume that this makes VNs a bit easier for people to feel it is okay to pirate than games. Most people get into gaming when they are young and at that age things like pirating I would assume isn't that common (probably a bit complicated for a 6 year old or highly risky for them in terms of getting viruses which would probably lead them to stop doing it after their parents scold them for getting a virus). Because of this people kind of start with the natural point being to buy their games and then later dvelve into piracy if they feel like it. With VNs people are generally starting at an age where they can easily pirate things which means they can be introduced to it through piracy and feel like this is the natural way to get VNs and as I mentioned previously there was already a culture for piracy that was established before a decent amount of titles got an official release where piracy wasn't just a part of the community but the entire community was pretty much built on piracy.

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I don't understand why Xeviax doesn't leave the vn industry if he makes more money in the LN and manga ones, and piracy isn't an issue. Tbh, I think it's  a stupid decision to stay, but oh well.

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Btw can anyone think of any ways we as fans can try to increase the numbers of people buying things legally rather than pirating? Like trying to make publishers of VNs and their financial situations more known or adding where to get things legally when recommending things especially for people new to the medium or any smart ideas anyone can think of?

Edited by bakauchuujin

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26 minutes ago, bakauchuujin said:

I think the way people get into games and VNs are quite different and I would assume that this makes VNs a bit easier for people to feel it is okay to pirate than games. Most people get into gaming when they are young and at that age things like pirating I would assume isn't that common (probably a bit complicated for a 6 year old or highly risky for them in terms of getting viruses which would probably lead them to stop doing it after their parents scold them for getting a virus). Because of this people kind of start with the natural point being to buy their games and then later dvelve into piracy if they feel like it. With VNs people are generally starting at an age where they can easily pirate things which means they can be introduced to it through piracy and feel like this is the natural way to get VNs and as I mentioned previously there was already a culture for piracy that was established before a decent amount of titles got an official release where piracy wasn't just a part of the community but the entire community was pretty much built on piracy.

2

These are kind of two separate issues though? In Poland, I was actually raised in the culture of piracy. A lot of the games I played as a kid were bought in bundles on a shady electronics bazaar in Warsaw. Because that was the cheap and convenient way of getting games (and relatively safe, as people selling those CDs were physically distributing them in that one place, usually for long periods of time – they had no incentives to spread malware). Years later, when I got a decent internet connection and access to Steam, I quickly stopped even considering pirating games – it was simply way more convenient to buy them on Steam sales and have all the perks connected to having stuff there. If I was poorer, it could've been different... But I'm pretty broke nowadays and it's still the same – if I would pirate anything, it'd definitely be a game that's not available on Steam, meaning it's not something I could hope to get on a deep sale and add to my convenient, virtual library.

So, while I think the cancer of culturally-accepted piracy in VN community is real, the convenience of it is extremely important. I'll even add a shameful personal experience – when I watched the School Days anime and wanted to try out the game, before I really got into VNs, I found it on JAST for what I then considered a ridiculous price for a decade-old adventure game. After that it took me like two minutes to find a free, malware-free download for it, even though I didn't pirate anything for like 8 years. So, there's literally no knowledge or skill involved in pirating eroge.

Edited by Plk_Lesiak

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If memory serves, finally I bought all my translated VNs that have official release available, even if I've read pirated version before, to support publishers. (except Harukoi Otome...)

It's a bit more difficult with japanese versions however (be it for reading untranslated, or applying fan patch).

1 hour ago, bakauchuujin said:

for the physical versions of VNs many people don't want to import them either because they don't want physical 18+ stuff

Like @bakauchuujin mentioned, +18 physical editions are no go for me (also, they tend to be prohibitvely expensive, and well - actually devs don't want me to buy them, with all those "for sale in Japan only" disclaimers :P). I also had no luck with DMM :(

But still I prefer to have legit versions of VNs, so whenever possible, I either buy download versions from Getchu (if they exist), or physical all-ages (mostly console) editions.

Edited by adamstan

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TBH, I've typically heard worse ratios than 5:1 for pirated:sales from other VN publishers with access to sales data. There are of course cases to be made that some of those pirates wouldn't buy the game anyway even if pirating were, e.g., higher-risk, harder to do, outright impossible, etc. But yeah, piracy does seem to be a substantial contributor to why VNs are doomed to niche status in the west. Publishers just generally can't afford to get the games they and others want to because the vast majority of the people playing the games don't pay for them.

Edited by Fred the Barber

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Personally I think most of the piracy comes from poorer countries where buying games in the first place isn't going to happen anyways unless it is on Steam for dirt cheap maybe. (AND STEAM DOESN'T HAVE PORN or does it???)

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Just now, Kiriririri said:

Personally I think most of the piracy comes from poorer countries where buying games in the first place isn't going to happen anyways unless it is on Steam for dirt cheap maybe. (AND STEAM DOESN'T HAVE PORN or does it???)

Do roughly 4 out of every 5 people who are into VNs live in poorer countries? Seems like a bit of a high number.

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1 minute ago, Kiriririri said:

Personally I think most of the piracy comes from poorer countries where buying games in the first place isn't going to happen anyways unless it is on Steam for dirt cheap maybe. (AND STEAM DOESN'T HAVE PORN or does it???)

Yup, because VNs are uniquely popular in poor countries, unlike video games in general, thus the piracy rate for them has to be way higher than in most other niches...? @littleshogun, is this all Indonesian's work? :michiru:

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Just now, bakauchuujin said:

Do roughly 4 out of every 5 people who are into VNs live in poorer countries? Seems like a bit of a high number.

I think you do not understand how big the community is in Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines etc.

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1 minute ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

Yup, because VNs are uniquely popular in poor countries, unlike video games in general, thus the piracy rate for them has to be way higher than in most other niches...? @littleshogun, is this all Indonesian's work? :michiru:

Not asaki but I can tell you that most Indonesian people pirate games, yes.

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31 minutes ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

Yeah, I imagine. I just would be surprised if they were VNs in a massively-disproportional manner. :3

Indonesians etc legitimately might make up more of the pirate + legit total sample than usual in games for VNs. This would change the figures to show a higher level of piracy if Indonesians have a higher rate of piracy. It's not that they only pirate VNs, it's that they pirate all things at a higher level and are a higher % of the total population, if we are to believe this argument. Not entirely anecdotally the Fuwa stats I have seen point to a fairly high # of visits to Fuwa by Indonesians (and we're English language only!).

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5 minutes ago, Stormwolf said:

I don't mind buying stuff i truly believe to be quality. some moeblob stuff is.... Well, not that.

Stop hating on Moeblobs. There is a large variety in quality among them and just because you don't like them doesn't mean they are not of quality. Also if you don't like moeblobs then ignore them, don't pirate them (not sure you do your text just kind of seemed to possibly hint at it).

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Think of it this way: who is the audience for English eroge?  Young males (mainly in the US).  What is the situation of young males with time on their hands these days?  Usually buried in student loan debt trying to get through university.  Do you honestly expect these people to buy eroge on credit?  As for the population that doesn't go through university, their wages are generally lower and they have less time--also not a recipe for spending on high-priced time-consuming entertainment that you can only enjoy alone.  Simply put, this is a demographics issue that doesn't have an easy solution.  A pirated copy isn't a lost sale.  Limiting piracy isn't going to increase their entertainment budgets.  They'll just find their porn somewhere else.

As for why Sol Press specifically might be having profitability issues: just look at their game lineup.  They're selling a bunch of medium to long length games that are expensive and time-consuming to translate (and consume).  They're all moege, appealing to more or less the same restricted audience.  It's one thing to be a developer and stick to what you're good at (creatively).  But sticking to one genre or game type doesn't do you much good as a publisher.  Diversification spreads your risk and drives traffic from different audiences.  That's good for business.

It's also important to point out that Sol Press is relatively new and doesn't have much of a following or brand recognition.  In addition, VN sales have a long tail in the West, and they don't have enough titles or sales history to benefit from that just yet.

As for the article itself, it seems to stumble from one bit of nonsense to another.  In what reality is releasing games sooner after the Japanese release going to decrease piracy?

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4 minutes ago, sanahtlig said:

Think of it this way: who is the audience for English eroge?  Young males (mainly in the US).  What is the situation of young males with time on their hands these days?  Usually buried in student loan debt trying to get through university.  Do you honestly expect these people to buy eroge on credit?  As for the population that doesn't go through university, their wages are generally lower and they have less time--also not a recipe for spending on high-priced time-consuming entertainment that you can only enjoy alone.  Simply put, this is a demographics issue that doesn't have an easy solution.  A pirated copy isn't a lost sale.  Limiting piracy isn't going to increase their entertainment budgets.  They'll just find their porn somewhere else.

As for why Sol Press specifically might be having profitability issues: just look at their game lineup.  They're selling a bunch of medium to long length games that are expensive and time-consuming to translate (and consume).  They're all moege, appealing to more or less the same restricted audience.  It's one thing to be a developer and stick to what you're good at (creatively).  But sticking to one genre or game type doesn't do you much good as a publisher.  Diversification spreads your risk and drives traffic from different audiences.  That's good for business.

It's also important to point out that Sol Press is relatively new and doesn't have much of a following or brand recognition.  In addition, VN sales have a long tail in the West, and they don't have enough titles or sales history to benefit from that just yet.

As for the article itself, it seems to stumble from one bit of nonsense to another.  In what reality is releasing games sooner after the Japanese release going to decrease piracy?

Sol failed horribly when they released a non-moege though.

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