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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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11 minutes ago, bakauchuujin said:

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).

I like what i like, and dislike what i dislike. naturally some moeblobs are good, but do you know that beforehand? nope.

Otherwise, I for one do what i want. Certainly not taking orders from some random person on a forum ;) 

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1 minute ago, Stormwolf said:

I like what i like, and dislike what i dislike. naturally some moeblobs are good, but do you know that beforehand? nope.

Otherwise, I for one do what i want. Certainly not taking orders from some random person on a forum ;)

It just kind of seemed like you hated every moeblob which was kind of why I questioned your actions. If it is just that you dislike most of them but like some of them I can understand using it to seperate the ones you like from the ones you dislike.

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They go too much on repeat. Whether this goes for all vn's or just the ones being translated is something i cannot answer. We get the same stuff in a slightly different package all the time.

Edited by Stormwolf

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I think one problem of VN is the ero-part. A lot of people are less willing to spend money on their erotica. It is still stigmatized and the internet is full of "free" porn. And when VNs are associated with porn there is more of a hurdle to buy it. At least I think that is part of the reason for piracy of VNs.

Normalizing VN by putting them on Platform like Steam or GOG is good thing in that regard, but well that is obviously not a path for every VN and there is resistance from the store fronts.

Edited by Formlose Gestalt

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1 hour ago, kokoro said:

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

Newton was a poor choice overall. 

From what I've seen of their releases, their choices for localization are almost exclusively mid to low quality charage, with the only significant announcements (from the games I've played, anyway) being HHG, Irotoridori, and Witch's Garden.  All three of these are also listed as TBA, so who knows when they will come out... and they are also ridiculously long and thus expensive to translate.  

The Western market is currently on a SOL craze, but the market is already saturated.  While there isn't a variety, there is enough SOL localized to get thoroughly sick of the genre if you don't have a natural aptitude for reading that stuff constantly.  Sol Press's poor sales are occurring because they've made poor choices of games to localize (the ones that have already been completely localized).  To be blunt, none of the games they have completed localization of so far were pushed by the community before they were announced, and none of them were anywhere near the top of anyone's list to try. 

While picking titles by little-known and low-budget companies, as well as old titles that are immensely forgettable probably let them keep the money they shelled out to the Japanese side to a minimum, the titles they chose weren't titles that could compete with the higher-end SOL titles already available here in the West.  As such, Sol Press doesn't really have my sympathy.  Their own poor business practices are what are killing their profits, not piracy, though piracy does harm the industry as a whole (though not nearly as bad as companies say it does). 

 

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3 hours ago, kokoro said:

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.

He said at AX something like "There are people always very passionate for VNs, including workers at Sol Press". So even if they are at a loss, Im sure many of the workers WANT to be on VN projects and of course being able to have good will in the VN community and Japanese companies is always nice.

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47 minutes ago, Clephas said:

Newton was a poor choice overall. 

One thing to note about Newton is that they were one of the first JP companies to actually give Sol a chance when they were a 100% unproven company with 0 VN releases.  

And it was through the Newton kickstarter that basically kickstarted Sol to get even more in the VN industry.

So even if Sol WANTED like a White Album 2 or something, why would a JP company trust an unproven company right away? The fact that Laplacian trusted them on a risk that seems to be working for them since now theyre gonna release Future Radio and that Wife Nukige from the same company and one of the writers was a guest at Anime Expo for Sol.

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I can't say I'm surprised they're not making money. I remember Sekai stating they had never gotten in the black during some interview a couple years after they got started, even though Clannad had sold records highs for VN's. I think it took MG 5 years to get into the black a single time and who knows if they still operate at a gain. A new company with barely anything under their belt, and those titles are ones the community was never asking for and are also in a style that is flooded. Two years ago I was guessing Sol Press and Nekonyan would be dead within a year, at least to 18+ eroge. I'm actually impressed they're both still around.

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34 minutes ago, jikorde said:

I can't say I'm surprised they're not making money. I remember Sekai stating they had never gotten in the black during some interview a couple years after they got started, even though Clannad had sold records highs for VN's. I think it took MG 5 years to get into the black a single time and who knows if they still operate at a gain. A new company with barely anything under their belt, and those titles are ones the community was never asking for and are also in a style that is flooded. Two years ago I was guessing Sol Press and Nekonyan would be dead within a year, at least to 18+ eroge. I'm actually impressed they're both still around.

Sol Press relies on manga/light novel sales for monies which have overall have a much higher profit for them. 

I think Nekonyan is relying on pure good will.

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5 hours ago, Kiriririri said:

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

philippines has a big community??? thats new....

<insert confession bear or the fuwa confession here> i pirate games.. dont be me..

im probably in the 3rd or maybe 2nd world country where VN or games in general are expensive to buy due to wage here. if you have money (unless you have a decent job), you will spend that to your basic needs and left with almost nothing for the neXt day. thats why people are playing free microtransaction games... dota, mobile legends etc..

seriously. dont be me
EDIT: If you can afford it and you like it, then why buy it instead?

Edited by wyldstrykr

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9 hours ago, NowItsAngeTime said:

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

That can't be right.  It's got to be more than 5 illegal downloads for each purchase.  He must have been being overly conservative.

Edit to add: The claim of selling about a thousand units or so seems pretty on the money to me.  I'll put it this way: Nekopara was successful enough to propel Sekai into a major publisher and keep them there.  If all games sold like Nekopara, we'd see a lot more English releases by more publishers.  Another fun fact:  If you take the average Kickstarter take, and divide by $40, except for the extreme outliers, you get a number that's the equivalent of between 1K and 2K copies sold.

Edited by Nandemonai

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6 hours ago, sanahtlig said:

Think of it this way: who is the audience for English eroge?  Young males (mainly in the US).

Just taking Fuwa into consideration, most of the members are not from the US.

I still have to read the rest of the thread, but I must admit that we brazilians have a culture of piracy that boomed with the PS2 and XBOX 360. The vast majority of players of these two platforms - which are still very active - may still pirate games nowadays. The middle class in Brazil is not one that allows people to play more than one full priced game a month, or even more.

 

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1 hour ago, Silvz said:

Just taking Fuwa into consideration, most of the members are not from the US.

By "audience", I mean the customers you're trying to sell to and who you expect to account for most of your sales (in monetary currency).  People who don't buy your games aren't your audience.  Likewise, customers who buy more games at full-price are more valuable than customers who buy fewer games at reduced prices due to less disposable income or cheaper regional pricing.  Naturally, companies need to be strategic and follow where the money's at if they're going to be successful.

Also, to be clear, fan hubs aren't necessarily representative of the customer base as a whole.  For example, I don't think there's much money to be made selling English eroge in Poland, even if prominent members on Fuwa hail from there.

Edited by sanahtlig

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Since my name is mentioned along with my country I must say, yeah Indonesia here is have a lot of piracy problem and majority of those would chose to pirate the VNs. That said, I don't really know though the exact number of the download, so I can't be so sure on how much that Indonesian did contribute on the pirating here if we talk about Sol Press VNs only because I'm quite sure that some people from other countries also contribute to the download number. At least I knew that some of Indonesian here buy the VNs legally through Steam, so I can say that some Indonesian here start to buy the VNs legally. By the way most of the game that sold in here is pirated one, at least for PS (Except 3 and 4) and PC.

About the article granted that there's a piracy factor that was caused Japanese VNs studio to be closed down, but I think most of those can be contributed to the rise of mobage in that apparently it's very booming in Japan (So much that two VNs companies (Light and Sprite) were attempted to do that only to be backfired). About Sol Press itself, what I can say is that compared to Nekonyan they started earlier and yet Nekonyan already beat them in term of release time, and let's not forget about Daresora which to say is not the most ideal format for VNs release (At least the price is very cheap if you want to legally buy it). I guess for now I can only say that hopefully Sol Press will keep their persistence in the VN localization, and that they'll be able to pace their release (I wouldn't comment/complain about the translation quality unless it's like SG (Sakura Games) or Your Diary).

Edited by littleshogun

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I don't think you can pin down the piracy issue to a single reason, it's a combination of multiple ones.

There are general problems:

-The demographic most of the VNs are aimed at is one of course, young poeple tend to have less money.

-the negative reception towards VNs (some people don't want other to know they're playing them and thus don't want them standing on their Shelves or their Steam account)

-an oversaturated market in some subgenres

-a lot of trash- or low-effort-VNs release alongside the good ones

-sometimes translations of a low quality which aren't seen as being worth the money

There are also issues depending on the country:

-legal risks

-average-wage-price-ratio

-avaiability (because one of the upper 2 or credit cards being not as far spread which locks you out of many stores)

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Oh my God.  If this article is true, and the Sol Press CEO did not give an interview in a bad mood ...
 And the VN market in the West is so saturated that players simply have no money to buy novels ...
 What to say about the countries of the second and third world?

 I live in Russia.  And honestly, I can call this country the third world country.  I never hope to see official translations of VN into Russian, this is just a useless idea.  Once in the West, where everything is bad, and if the English language (the main language of the world) novels do not pay off... What to say about other countries and translations into other languages?
Only silent...

 I don’t want to talk about my life and expenses (I was politely asked to shut up when I started doing this on the forum), but if I can, I buy games, although I know perfectly well that I don’t have time or energy for them.

 I do not think that +1 copy, especially for the Russian regional price (1/4 of the original price) can solve something, but I am happy to support those VNs hat interest me.

 Sol Press pleasantly surprised me by picking up the great Witch's Garden, as well as Happiness 2.
 But Windmill and other companies are so little known among all the others... Niche eroge studios...
 That I have a feeling that these VNs are needed only by 2.5 anonymous.
 This is sad.

 And, apparently, the employees of Sol Press themselves really like these VNs, which is probably why they are working at a loss just to see their favorite title published officially.

 Thank you, Sol Press.  I would cry if I were you.
We have very, very similar tastes.  I am glad that you have the means and opportunities to localize VN in the West, and ... Those who, let's be honest, are not needed by anyone (almost).

 So I will support you to the end.

 (I bought Majo Koi Nikki on the first day of release and am very happy. And you?)

Sorry for my English.

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Ugh. This news doesn't surprise me all that much, but it's still sad to hear about. I agree with what's in the article regarding the shortfall in sales, but I don't think they have the right idea on how to implement that fix. One solution that comes to mind is the pay as you go model, where you are free to try a good portion of the game without making a purchase, and you pay for the later parts of the story once you've finished the free bits. I know Dies Irae used this approach, and I heard Light was reasonably satisfied with their sales.

In my opinion, this approach makes a lot of sense. Now I know demos are always an option, but they are a double edged sword that often to lead to a loss of profit. Pay as you go makes sense, because companies benefit from increased initial exposure, and it's a lot easier to convince someone to buy something when they've already developed an interest in it, and they don't have to wait for it. If there's anything that can be learned from the f2p market, it's that even poorly designed video games can turn a profit with there being a high demand for freely accessible content. I think VNs can greatly benefit from this, too. This should also help Sol Press bypass the issue of market saturation since it'll have a unique pricing system that stands out among everything else.

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22 minutes ago, Kenshin_sama said:

Ugh. This news doesn't surprise me all that much, but it's still sad to hear about. I agree with what's in the article regarding the shortfall in sales, but I don't think they have the right idea on how to implement that fix. One solution that comes to mind is the pay as you go model, where you are free to try a good portion of the game without making a purchase, and you pay for the later parts of the story once you've finished the free bits. I know Dies Irae used this approach, and I heard Light was reasonably satisfied with their sales.

In my opinion, this approach makes a lot of sense. Now I know demos are always an option, but they are a double edged sword that often to lead to a loss of profit. Pay as you go makes sense, because companies benefit from increased initial exposure, and it's a lot easier to convince someone to buy something when they've already developed an interest in it, and they don't have to wait for it. If there's anything that can be learned from the f2p market, it's that even poorly designed video games can turn a profit with there being a high demand for freely accessible content. I think VNs can greatly benefit from this, too. This should also help Sol Press bypass the issue of market saturation since it'll have a unique pricing system that stands out among everything else.

Dies irae was a horrible choice for that model, since it has an actual enforced route order that exists for a reason. Could you imagine reading Phoenix Wright cases in any order you want? Starting with the final case of 4 that builds up to the finally, only for nothing to make sense, but hey the player wanted to start there!

Like, even I think a route buy structure could work, but it would be mangled(just like it is in the mobile otome market). Sure at first we might get full Vn's with all 4-6 routes buyable, but as people only buy certain heroines eventually it would be road mapped. Buy routes 1 and 2 for the popular girls. If they don't do well enough 3 and 4 just never happen. They'll keep promising them, and 5 years later we'll get a machine translated route 3 to shut people up... The more you try to grab F2P style options the more you'll leek in the worse parts of that format. Like stamina gauges where you need to buy energy to read at your pace, or needing to grind daily roulette spins to earn the premium currency to buy clothes to have the stats to access the next part of a route.

 

Also, honestly, if I had the option of only spending ten bucks to buy a single heroine out of a set, I would do that. I would look at reviews or cgs, and just buy who i like instead of the whole package. Which isn't earning them more money and piracy would still be an issue since with that I could just get the whole package instead of piece by piece.

 

 

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8 hours ago, Kenshin_sama said:

In my opinion, this approach makes a lot of sense. Now I know demos are always an option, but they are a double edged sword that often to lead to a loss of profit. Pay as you go makes sense, because companies benefit from increased initial exposure, and it's a lot easier to convince someone to buy something when they've already developed an interest in it, and they don't have to wait for it. 

You'll lose sales from people like me who tend to accumulate tons of unplayed and backlogged crap.

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10 hours ago, Kenshin_sama said:

If there's anything that can be learned from the f2p market, it's that even poorly designed video games can turn a profit with there being a high demand for freely accessible content.

That's not really the main takeaway from the free-to-play market, which would be that a small fraction of players can be conned into spending ridiculous amounts of money when collecting, gambling, and pay-to-win player vs. player competition are involved.  It's sort of like saying that the pharmaceutical industry could learn a lot from studying the illegal drug trade.

Edited by sanahtlig

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22 minutes ago, adamstan said:

And I would hate to see any of those atrocities applied to VNs...

Then you definitely don't want to play Moe! Ninja Girls or any of those dozens of mobile otome it shares its business model with. ;)

Edit: I'm actually playing one ATM, just testing how unbearable it is without paying. I recetly had to farm the in-game currency for three days to clear a roadblock that literally prevented me from reading the story, despite having enough story tickets to cover two full chapters. It would cost $5 in premium currency to skip it (plus I would get a "premium version" of that story bit). I still somehow can't help but be amazed with how scummy these games are, literally the worst of the worst in mobile gaming.

Sorry for OT. :P

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