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10 Difficulties and Frustrations related to Visual Novel Localization


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TLDW:

-Issue 1: Pricing
-Issue 2: The 'Speed' of Localization
-Issue 3: When to Announce a Localization project
-Issue 4: Translation choices
-Issue 5: Potential (Un)censorship 
-Issue 6: Ease of Digital Availability
-Issue 7: Pay and Contract work
-Issue 8: Kickstarters
-Issue 9: Physical Versions outside Kick 
-Issue 10: Visual Novels are still Niche!

Edited by NowItsAngeTime
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  • NowItsAngeTime changed the title to 10 Difficulties and Frustrations related to Visual Novel Localization
4 hours ago, NowItsAngeTime said:

-Issue 1: Pricing
-Issue 2: The 'Speed' of Localization
-Issue 3: When to Announce a Localization project
-Issue 4: Translation choices
-Issue 5: Potential (Un)censorship 
-Issue 6: Ease of Digital Availability
-Issue 7: Pay and Contract work
-Issue 8: Kickstarters
-Issue 9: Physical Versions outside Kick 
-Issue 10: Visual Novels are still Niche!

1) JVNs are generally priced high in Japan and over here have greatly reduced pricing.  

2) Localization speed can be anywhere from three months to seven years depending on the company doing the job and any legal issues involved.  

3) My advice?  Don't until you have it done and ready for release, then announce it a month before you release it with plenty of community outreach.

4)  The balance between Westernization and translation.  An eternal dilemma for people doing anything related to bringing JVNs over here.  

5)  Who cares about censorship?  Mosaic is sexy *Clephas's eyes go blank and he gives an eerie smile*

6) Digital availability?  Well, preferably, it should be available on Steam at the very least, since a lot of people don't want to trust their credit cards to small net shops run by individual localization companies.

7) Pay for localization staff sucks, end of story.

8 ) Kickstarters were great for the first iteration of the larger localization industry (as opposed to the 'old version' where there were precisely three companies doing localization and spent years on each one), but now they are just an excuse to defray costs in advance with no guarantee of an actual release.

9) No need for physical versions of the localized games, unless the game becomes popular enough to justify a commemorative edition.

10) VNs are less niche than they used to be, but any genre where reading is a significant part of the experience will always be niche, as most people are too stupid to be truly literate.

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If you forget the glory days of when pirating pre-patched VNs was super easy, English speaking fans living outside of Japan have it quite good when it comes to pricing. Recently I bought Totono (You and Me and Her) in Japanese from a Japanese website, and it cost me around $60. The Steam price is literally half that. I also was considering buying another VN but ultimately opted against it, in part because for a Japanese copy I was looking at spending $100, whereas the localization on Steam was only $20. I suspect this is also the reason why on Steam they don't have it as an option to read VNs in Japanese. Since Japanese people would probably start buying the localized versions instead. 

The price disparity is so bad, that I have to use a VPN to buy some VNs from JastUSA. I bought Yume Miru Kusuri a month ago for a reread in Japanese, but I also wanted the English version as well (for extraneous reasons), and I needed to use a VPN to access the Jast page. Keep in mind, I live in Japan.  

EDIT: I should note that all the Japanese VNs I mentioned here, I bought as digital copies. Meaning all the associated expenses of physical releases don't apply. 

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28 minutes ago, Zalor said:

If you forget the glory days of when pirating pre-patched VNs was super easy, English speaking fans living outside of Japan have it quite good when it comes to pricing. Recently I bought Totono (You and Me and Her) in Japanese from a Japanese website, and it cost me around $60. The Steam price is literally half that. I also was considering buying another VN but ultimately opted against it, in part because for a Japanese copy I was looking at spending $100, whereas the localization on Steam was only $20. I suspect this is also the reason why on Steam they don't have it as an option to read VNs in Japanese. Since Japanese people would probably start buying the localized versions instead. 

The price disparity is so bad, that I have to use a VPN to buy some VNs from JastUSA. I bought Yume Miru Kusuri a month ago for a reread in Japanese, but I also wanted the English version as well (for extraneous reasons), and I needed to use a VPN to access the Jast page. Keep in mind, I live in Japan.  

EDIT: I should note that all the Japanese VNs I mentioned here, I bought as digital copies. Meaning all the associated expenses of physical releases don't apply. 

Oh believe me I know, as someone who's bought several $60-80+  Japanese VNs through DMM.

I'm mostly speaking on the part of westerns who complain when something goes over $30 bucks.

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19 minutes ago, NowItsAngeTime said:

Oh believe me I know, as someone who's bought several $60-80+  Japanese VNs through DMM.

I'm mostly speaking on the part of westerns who complain when something goes over $30 bucks.

Yeah, I wasn't critiquing your point or anything. Just adding my 2 cents and venting about the frustrations of this gap. It's kind of amazing to me how Japanese and non-Japanese Otaku seem to live in different worlds in so far as pricing is concerned. Same with anime. Japanese Otaku will spend $30 on blurays that only contain 4 or so episodes of a 12+ episode series. Nobody in the west would consider that a sane purchase (and I may be biased, but I agree with the West on this point). 

There are so many cheap, often free sources for entertainment in the West, that it really weighed the price down for entertainment. Whereas I don't think the same is quite true for Japan. For one, there is A LOT of really good content on YouTube these days which is 100% free. Japanese YouTube still by in large, looks like Youtube from 2009. Then you have netflix, hulu, Amazon Prime, Funimation, Crunchyroll, etc to watch movies, TV shows and anime. Each of which is only 5 - $15 a month with huge libraries. We are entertained to death in the West. If something is too expensive, we have plenty of other high quality options that are cheap if not free.

I think Japan is heading to this direction, but they are still behind. If you want good content, you don't have as many alternative options, especially if you are into niche Otaku stuff.   

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2 hours ago, wyldstrykr said:

people complaining VN for about $30 when theres games at about $40-$60 and thats not including microtransaction...
 

I said in the video, but for whatever reason people just don't put much value in VNs for some reason, even though many of them are longer than games/anime/movies on average.

I'm guessing the pure reading/ero part for some reason brings it down?

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  • 1 month later...
On 7/9/2021 at 11:15 PM, Zalor said:

If you forget the glory days of when pirating pre-patched VNs was super easy, English speaking fans living outside of Japan have it quite good when it comes to pricing. Recently I bought Totono (You and Me and Her) in Japanese from a Japanese website, and it cost me around $60. The Steam price is literally half that. I also was considering buying another VN but ultimately opted against it, in part because for a Japanese copy I was looking at spending $100, whereas the localization on Steam was only $20. I suspect this is also the reason why on Steam they don't have it as an option to read VNs in Japanese. Since Japanese people would probably start buying the localized versions instead. 

The price disparity is so bad, that I have to use a VPN to buy some VNs from JastUSA. I bought Yume Miru Kusuri a month ago for a reread in Japanese, but I also wanted the English version as well (for extraneous reasons), and I needed to use a VPN to access the Jast page. Keep in mind, I live in Japan.  

EDIT: I should note that all the Japanese VNs I mentioned here, I bought as digital copies. Meaning all the associated expenses of physical releases don't apply. 

Kinda, I also have to say buy games without regional price these days is kinda hard for most people, that probably why most wouldn't recommend buying games from places other than Steam even if the it's a from a place like Mangagamer

 

If you live in USA or Europe it might not be too bad, but in other places like Argentina and Brazil for example, these game can cost almost 4 times more that it would on Steam, I guess that Steam become the norm for PC games

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On 7/10/2021 at 8:25 AM, NowItsAngeTime said:

I said in the video, but for whatever reason people just don't put much value in VNs for some reason, even though many of them are longer than games/anime/movies on average.

I'm guessing the pure reading/ero part for some reason brings it down?

The last VN I bought was 40$ and I had to contact my bank for a strange and incredibly niche credit card authorization system that nobody else uses. What did I get? A piece of shit that crashes every 15 lines because nobody cared to do any quality control.

Experiences like THAT bring the willingness to spend money down. Especially when said retailer refuses to respond to support inquiries and refund requests.

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7 hours ago, TexasDice said:

The last VN I bought was 40$ and I had to contact my bank for a strange and incredibly niche credit card authorization system that nobody else uses. What did I get? A piece of shit that crashes every 15 lines because nobody cared to do any quality control.

Experiences like THAT bring the willingness to spend money down. Especially when said retailer refuses to respond to support inquiries and refund requests.

Was this the Kinkoi release, or something else?

Also from my experience, no company outside JAST does refunds period unless you buy on Steam.

Edited by NowItsAngeTime
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  • 1 month later...

For the topic, it's interesting to note so let me try to elaborate some more on the points even though mod Clephas here already give his precise comment on those.

1. Like mod Clephas said, the VN was sell more cheaply in overseas compared to in Japan in that at most the pricing for translated VN is half of the original VN. There's regional price option to reduce the pricing even further depending on the region in that Steam did use that service, although considering that Valve is a bit too happy to ban some VNs safe to say that it might be even harder to get the VN with regional place at easily accessible place. Granted that JAST also provided regional pricing as well, but from what I understand Steam has less complicated payment processor with Johren is the most complicated one (And no regional price obviously).

2. Speed, well surely both of official and fan translation have that kind of problem and quite often the critic is in regard of this. So far both of Mangagamer and Nekonyan here did a good job on translation speed. As for how to avoid the problem, one of the way is the company should try to find out which roadblock that caused the slowdown of a certain VN and try to circumvent it. The other way is more obvious in that the company should took as few license as possible so that the company can sped up the translation and not being overwhelmed by it, in that it's pretty obvious what's happen with Sekai took too many license and this reduced the hype from their own announcements a lot (They still better compared to Sol Press though).

3. I already talk about it, and I prefer if the company just announce the VNs as soon as it ready for the release (Both JAST (Recently) and Shiravune here are the examples). On the other hand, as long as the companies can keep up the speed then I'm fine if the companies did announce the project way before they release it (Both of Nekonyan and Mangagamer still use this method and they're quite good with speed). That said to do the former obviously the company should be ready for the release, and thus they shouldn't do what Sol Press did at AX 2018 in which they did announce the exact release date for several projects without checking whether they can do it or not and they obviously failed to release those on the promised date.

4. Translation choice, well I would say whatever to it in that I'm fine as long as I get the VN in English and there's no much fuss on the translation in that the a lot of people did criticize that the translation is worse compared to Your Diary translation or saying that SakuraGame can translate a certain VN better compared to the translation company of said certain VN (For the info both Your Diary translation and SakuraGame are quite infamous for bad translation).

5. There's two type of censorship here, mosaic and cut the sex scenes. As for mosaic, let's just say that after an user who fight with Dovac at VNDB mention that I felt that the user did mention the most pointless thing ever, especially when I already didn't mind whether there's a mosaic in VN or not. For the second type here, it's what Pulltop did for their official release like you say (And yes I call MoeNovel as Pulltop) in which ironically give birth the trend to release the censored VN on Steam and release 18+ patch elsewhere. I don't mind that method, although some companies still did what Pulltop do though (ie Harukaze, GIGA, and Laplacian) in which it's obviously make the fans angry. Granted that some would prefer what Pulltop did when it come to the VN, but I prefer to have a choice to skip the sex scene rather than not be able to read it in the first place.

6. Seeing that the only place to get VN easily is only Steam, it's also related with the first problem in that if the VN is not on Steam people may miss the VN because there's no regional price. Granted that there's many other stores, but obviously Steam here is the most accessible store and Johren is just too difficult when it come to payment (Not to mention Denuvo thing that is quite bothersome for the one who purchase it from there). Of course like you say Steam here is not exactly free of problem because recently Valve been a bit too happy to ban some VNs, and thus it would be a bother to the translator on how much they should adjust the VN if they want to sell it there (Which mean Alicesoft did cut one of sex scenes in Evenicle 2 Trial for nothing because Valve was banned it anyway).

7. Well it's sticky issue in that Arunaru did quit Mangagamer because of that problem, and yes let's just say that it's a passion job which mean you'll need a lot of passion to keep working as the translator.

8. It's liable that people will be disappointed with Kickstarter because so far the successful one are quite rare. In fact out of all companies, so far the only successful one are Nekonyan (Who ironically said that they wouldn't use Kickstarter at the beginning) and Ninetail while as for the rest most of those are only manage to deliver the digital product. Also at this rate Frontwing become a joke with on how many time they apologies instead of keep working on Sharin as in they want us to see them as some frail lady who can only apologies for the problem (Strange analogy I know), but at least they manage to deliver the product from their other crowdfunds (Most of those are digital version only though).

9. Considering JAST was very slow when they did produce the physical version and wait until it's ready before announce VN release, I didn't mind if they switch it to pre-order (Along with announce the release date when the VN is ready for digital release). Obviously we can't hope much from Kickstarter as well for physical edition, because usually the company would have a hard time to work on that. Well I didn't mind much on lack physical edition anyway, though I know some people who want physical edition for translated VNs.

10. Now this is really a big problem, although it can be explained like the VN was just recently become more popular compared to way back in the past. That said, to get even more popular perhaps the only way is to try released the localized version at the same time as the original version, which to say is easier said than done. If anything else, at least Frontwing did what I say with them release the multiple language version (Including English obviously) in their recent VNs. I guess VN would still niche for some more time to finally becoming mainstream like Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, although at least some like Zero Escape or Ace Attorney are quite well-known to a degree.

That's all for what I can say in regard of the problems with VN localization companies here.

Edited by littleshogun
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