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InvertMouse

Marketing a visual novel

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Just wondering if the good folks here could share some knowledge on how to market a visual novel B). It's all good if you have no actual experience. This is just a brainstorm session :D.

I'll be honest and say I created his post largely for my own benefit~ Many of you know I'm developing a visual novel type game at the moment. I hope to put this on the app store at some point and just wanted to hear some insights. On Steam, there's a visual novel named Analogue: A Hate Story. I do wonder how a game that niche made it onto something like Steam. Of course, then there are games like 999 on the DS. That game contains puzzle elements so it's less visual novel heavy. Perhaps that made the game more acceptable in the west. Another arguable example might be the Phoenix Wright series, I guess.

If there are any other visual novels that worked out in the west, I'd love to hear their success stories. I know many people here are visual novel veterans so I wanted to ask for some advice.

That said, I'm about to present my game to a small group of around 30 people. Wish me luck ((((((((^-^)))))))))!

Thank you B).

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it's just so hard, bcuz there's so many others creating visual novels out there.

what i am thinking is, use twitter and follow or reply to any1 who appears on the keyword searches who is interested in visual novels. then do the same on Tumblr. also maybe facebook as well (although I don't know if facebook has that kind of function). in fact you can even find programs that auto-follow ppl for you. (see blackhatworld.com)

deviant art has something like a user-base for that kind of stuff. I use google alerts and put "visual novel" on the alerts list, and it gives me links to a lot of western developed VNs, often big sites that you should go to to hang out. you can try talking to those people about their VNs, and then in turn you can open opportunities to talk about your VN. and then if you hang in a community enough, people will start to recognize you (the same way they recognize you here?) and you will draw a few clicks.

oh the last thing is start a wordpress blog and go reply in the comments of other people's blog all over the place and do some interesting blog posts yourself. Once you've got some content, exchange links with others who also create VNs

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I've only started playing VN a few years back, the first game I played was Katawa Shoujo. I played that game because I was intrigued by the story and the characters. For me, I guess to market a VN would be an interesting story. Also, having reviews made for the game would be nice too. ;)

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Aaeru's got some great points there regarding the power of social media and blogging. There really isn't anybody more qualified than her to speak to that, either, since her twitter and blog are major go-to information sources for the community.

I'll speak a little to evangelizing the already extant VN communities. Fuwanovel's a good place to start, since pretty much everybody here will notice your new game posts and play it. You can start asking for us to spread the news (I, for example, simply didn't think about it. Once I post this, I'll email a few friends about it). Also, for VNs, you can go to/participate on the Lemmasoft forums (Ren'Py developer community), which is a big hub of VN creation.

I've previously looked to other VN communities to post in, but never went too far with it: the toxic/caustic responses weren't worth it to me.

There are, however, lots of VN blogs and forums you can go to.

Just for InvertMouse: Since your game is more than a visual novel and has some really awesome gameplay in it, I'd suggest posting in game-making blogs/forums, hyping and requesting playtesting at your local university, and (again) asking for word-of-mouth advertising from loyal players.

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Thanks for the reply everyone~ Aaeru raised many good ideas that I'll definitely try and act upon. Tay, thanks for spreading the word! Yeah, I should ask for things like that. And yes, indeed, the internet has a lot of trolls, big surprise. I have submitted games before where all people respond with are, "This doesn't work.", "Why isn't that there", etc. Critical, but no human factor whatsoever. Thanks for your reply too Zakamutt :).

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Thanks for the reply everyone~ Aaeru raised many good ideas that I'll definitely try and act upon. Tay, thanks for spreading the word! Yeah, I should ask for things like that. And yes, indeed, the internet has a lot of trolls, big surprise. I have submitted games before where all people respond with are, "This doesn't work.", "Why isn't that there", etc. Critical, but no human factor whatsoever. Thanks for your reply too Zakamutt smile.gif.

Okay, so I've got two friends to play it. As we chatted, I realized: what do you think about social network integration? Putting "Like" or Google+ "+1" buttons on the main episode list? I hate the look, but it would be awesome if there was a way to quickly chime in support.

Maybe another option would be, upon completion of a route, being able to post to facebook/G+ your time/score?

EDIT: I practically NEVER use social media (except twitter), so this is probably a little awkward/hypocritical coming from me. All I meant to pass on was that my friends started competing with each other, and wanted to brag/spread the news.

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Hey Tay, before anything else, thank you heaps for showing the game to two of your friends! You're doing me a massive favor and I really appreciate it m(_ _)m.

For the social media idea, I actually have implemented something of the sort on the game's site. I do recall having the same thing on the episode list page, but for a reason I fail to remember, I chose to remove it. Now that you mention it, I might put that back in. Thanks for the reminder :).

Originally, each level was going to have time tracking. However, because there is dialogue throughout the levels, I chose to ditch it. A clock and reading would work against each other. I might do a time attack mode at some point, but objectively speaking, I doubt that many players would be interested.

Yeah, I'm mostly just on Twitter as well, so I need to learn my way around the other social media. Haha, how did your friends compete over Unhack :lol:? Please pass on my thanks to them as well :).

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I passed on the link, but wasn't there when they played. I think they played the game once for story, and then again with a stopwatch in what was essentially the time-attack mode you mentioned.

The social media are just ideas, but I think it speaks really highly to your game development skills that so many people find the game engaging. Great job!

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If there are any other visual novels that worked out in the west, I'd love to hear their success stories. I know many people here are visual novel veterans so I wanted to ask for some advice.

I recommend following the leader of the indie group Winter Wolves on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pcmacgames. This person often talks about selling his games and VNs, and has a number of interesting insights. For instance, he has talked about how the group's 2D RPGs and girl x boys (reverse harem) games sell surprisingly well. And while his group's games are on services such as Desura and Gamersgate, he's had no success with Steam. The Winter Wolves site blog may also be worth following.

Other indie VN blogs you may benefit by reading:

* Sakura River News (sakurariver.ca/main/dev-blog). This group has already published Fading Hearts and Infinite Game Works, and is currently working on an indie RPG called Don't Save the World. Their blog posts may not be long, but they sometimes have interesting things to say.

* I Whine About Games (whineaboutgames.blogspot.com). This is the personal blog of the person behind Hanako Games, an indie group which has been selling cute and thoughtful games for quite a few years.

There are some other people who sell indie visual novels in English, such as Moacube ("Cinders"), Okashi Studios ("Shira Oka"), Super Six-Three ("Lucky Rabbit Reflex"), Zeiva Inc ("X-Note" and more), and Roseverte ("Café 0 ~The Drowned Mermaid" and more). They might not offer much marketing advice, but you may want to look at their sites, blogs, and so on.

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Will make several fast points, my two cents on this...

First, consider what exactly is your aim with this? If it is to just get the word out about your game and generally receive feedback as a designer, then the social media route everyone else talking about is a good way down.

If, however, if it is really to sell it commercially on the app store, you may want to do a bit of research also. I never did economics/business but I do think to go about it logically you need to at least have some idea on how to approach the following questions:

Precisely what genre does the work fit in to? (ie which category of app. I can talk for ages about how by being both story and game VNs defy current categories but this will not fly when you're filling out the form that asks you where you want to place the app for sale... )

What other apps are already out there that it will be competing with? And this isn't just a general run-down of the English OELVN scene, mind; I mean actually going down to the app store and seeing what people are doing with their stuff there. You never know, it might give you ideas! Also, it also helps you determine....

....What does your product have that others already available don't? Marketing, in the strict sense of the term, alludes to advertising. So you want to know how to pitch it at others. What is its main pull? And if you already know what that is, do you want to work on it a bit more so that your game includes more of it?

And this is where I start picking bones about the whole idea of "marketing" art, because then people can easily fall into the trap of doing things for the sake of sales as opposed to, well, art for art's sake. Lucky for some what they do is precisely what sells; but for the rest of us that isn't always the case. That being said though even if you abandon ALL intention of selling anything (and I in no way think you should) it is still useful to consider this perspective because it can help you see things from a different viewpoint - which is always good for the creative process!!

Hope that helps. Good luck and let us know how it goes!!

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Thank you Tay! Much appreciated.

Zakamutt, thanks for the link!

Supah Kawaii Weeaboo, thanks for sharing all of those resources! I'll check them all out for sure.

Thanks for the reply Harry! I do ultimately want to sell my game on the app store. It'll be a learning lesson for sure. I agree with your last point. Honestly, I have a day job I'm very happy with, so I have no illusions about turning this into a career or anything. Making art has to come first. Of course, in reality, there's always a balance between the two things. Thank you again! If you ever feel up for checking out my game, I'd really appreciate that, too.

Thanks everyone :D.

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I'm trying to market my visual novel as well! It's the first game I've made so I'm not that experienced.

What I've been learning so far is that reddit has been getting me the most views on my wordpress blog about my game. I posted in the visual novel subreddit, but I think I made a mistake in marketing my game so early in its development. I'm only going to post their again after I have my free demo completed, because there's nothing for my viewers to really talk about in the comments section, so my original post has kind of just died from inactivity haha.

Facebook is also a good way to market. My plan is to join a bunch of visual novel facebook groups and when I finish my demo, post them there. Not sure if it will work, but I think it's a good idea.

Hope this helps!

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this is irelevent to the conversation but  I have to say this: I love your VNs!! the last birdling is easily one of the best things ive read this year

Edited by ratboi

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