How crowded is the visual novel market now?

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applegirl
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How crowded is the visual novel market now?

#1 Post by applegirl » Tue Jul 04, 2017 9:27 pm

I was logging onto steam and realized wow...there are a ton of visual novels on there now. First, that made me glad there was so many (hey more fans of visual novels right) but then I wondered, how does this affect the typical visual novel maker? How crowded is the market? Is it good in that there are more fans or is it actually far worse since now everyone is over-crowded, its really difficult to get any attention whatsoever unless you have a really controversial visual novel or something that surprisingly taps into the vein of the mainstream?

Just curious and was hopeful people could chip in their thoughts.

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Re: How crowded is the visual novel market now?

#2 Post by SundownKid » Tue Jul 04, 2017 10:10 pm

The entire indie game market is crowded and visual novels are no exception. In recent years it has become far easier to make games and that is reflected in the increasing need for marketing. I'll err towards "far worse" rather than "better", as right now it's nearly impossible to get fans without a concerted marketing push, you can't just release a game onto the internet and expect people to find it, like you could maybe a decade ago. Steam's gradual relaxing of their standards to "give us $100 and we'll put whatever 'game' you want there" doesn't help either. Not because people are actually buying said games, but it makes people not bother to look for the diamonds in the rough.

Standards for quality have also gone up dramatically. When there are more games, people seek out the best games. The market is being saturated with a ton of amateurish games every second but actual high quality, high effort games don't come out nearly as often. That is a good way to stand above the rest.

Im not gonna lie, the market is saturated. If you want to make many fans you'll have to have great production quality and a lot of marketing, or you have to somehow hit on that one crazy idea that people want to share with everyone. Having a niche in mind helps too, preferably something with a lot of fans but with few games, and in which yours would make a bigger splash.

I think a good test for whether the production quality of your game is good enough, is whether if you asked your average (albeit story-oriented) gamer to play it, would they be interested, or would only a hardcore visual novel fan be interested? Getting it in front of as many eyes as possible is, I think, the best goal, as it's hard to compete with Japanese VN's for sheer length and production value.

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Re: How crowded is the visual novel market now?

#3 Post by Scribbles » Wed Jul 05, 2017 10:21 am

I've looked through itch.io and it seems like there are a TON of demos, but not many complete games (at least the ones I would want to play). there are a lot more VNs, but the genres seem to be all over the place. I don't look much on steam b/c the genre seems to lean heavily on BxG and it's not what I'm into. but yeah all the markets are over saturated b/c it's easier to put stuff out (same with ebooks on amazon), makes it harder to find what you're looking for unfortunately and harder to stand out
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Re: How crowded is the visual novel market now?

#4 Post by bluebirdplays » Wed Jul 05, 2017 10:32 am

I'll agree with most of what SundownKid has said. The entire market is saturated. I've worked on visual novels and helped to market roguelikes, adventure games, top-down shooters, etc. Unfortunately, the general consensus has been that there's another game that does much better, and newer games of any genre are unable to make a splash unless they have an established audience or have that WOW-factor.

That being said, I feel like visual novels in particular have a very, very niche crowd, especially on Steam. Visual novel enthusiasts will look at visual novels. Your average game player will not, unless there's some driving feature or quality that makes it compelling. I always use Hatoful Boyfriend as an example, but that's because it was a bizarre game with a great twist that got players from all walks of life excited to talk about and share it even if visual novels aren't their cup of tea.

The market in general is over-saturated, and I feel like if you expect to make heaps of money off any indie game these days, it just won't happen. I want to make a commercial game for Steam, but I'm going in there also expecting that I will not break even for the amount of time I put into what I create. I'd rather that people know that I do make games and slowly build a fan base off of what I've completed, rather than put all my eggs into one basket expecting instant success.

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Re: How crowded is the visual novel market now?

#5 Post by gekiganwing » Wed Jul 05, 2017 10:58 am

bluebirdplays wrote:...newer games of any genre are unable to make a splash unless they have an established audience or have that WOW-factor.
What can set a visual novel apart?

* The premise is different enough. It doesn't need a gimmick, it can just be memorable. If you look at iTunes or Steam and have a tough time finding something other than slice of life romance, then write something like action-adventure or historical mystery.

* The art stands out in a crowd. Does it appeal to an audience who might buy it?
bluebirdplays wrote:Visual novel enthusiasts will look at visual novels. Your average game player will not, unless there's some driving feature or quality that makes it compelling.
Make sure to use accurate terms to describe what you're creating. If it's a story with choices, don't describe it as a simulation or a roleplaying game. If your project includes interactive elements, then talk about how they'll work.

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Re: How crowded is the visual novel market now?

#6 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Wed Jul 05, 2017 12:16 pm

SundownKid wrote:The entire indie game market is crowded and visual novels are no exception. In recent years it has become far easier to make games and that is reflected in the increasing need for marketing. I'll err towards "far worse" rather than "better", as right now it's nearly impossible to get fans without a concerted marketing push, you can't just release a game onto the internet and expect people to find it, like you could maybe a decade ago.
Marketing is the defining separator right now, because as Sundownkid says, the indie game market is super saturated.

A good example is the indie developers behind Prison Architect. That game sold 2 million copies. So they expected pretty decent sales for their next title, with plenty of eyeballs on it. After months on sale, their new game had only sold 6000 copies. What was the issue? Marketing. It turns out that until they went on the media interview circuit to discuss how badly their new game had done, almost no one had heard of the new title or was aware of it. But the problem was expecting that all those Prison Architect players were regularly keeping up with the developer's activities. They weren't. Players had no idea the team had released a new game. And the developers had even gotten a few news articles released about the new game at it's launch. Scary stuff.

If you follow the industry model for Hollywood and the AAA game publishers, for a project to be successful, you need to spend 50% of your budget on marketing. Did you devote 40 hours a week to game development? You need to devote 20 hours a week to marketing the game. Ideally, you want to start doing that in the weeks running up to your release and build to a maximum crescendo of marketing at release, then continue efforts after that.

A novel premise and art and gameplay that stands out are definitely necessary, but they won't do any good if no one knows your products exists.

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Re: How crowded is the visual novel market now?

#7 Post by trooper6 » Wed Jul 05, 2017 2:35 pm

bluebirdplays wrote: That being said, I feel like visual novels in particular have a very, very niche crowd, especially on Steam. Visual novel enthusiasts will look at visual novels. Your average game player will not, unless there's some driving feature or quality that makes it compelling.
So...yeah. I don't think people should be checking out any sort of art unless there's some driving feature or quality that makes it compelling--whether or not the market is saturated. If a person makes a game that has nothing that makes it compelling, just the fact that it is a VN isn't going to make me check it out.

The idea that a person can no longer make a non-compelling game and be successful is not, I don't think, a bad thing.
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Re: How crowded is the visual novel market now?

#8 Post by Jordgubben » Sun Jul 09, 2017 12:33 pm

gekiganwing wrote: What can set a visual novel apart?

* The premise is different enough. It doesn't need a gimmick, it can just be memorable. If you look at iTunes or Steam and have a tough time finding something other than slice of life romance, then write something like action-adventure or historical mystery.

* The art stands out in a crowd. Does it appeal to an audience who might buy it?
Steam currently has 568 VNs under "New releases", of these 402 are tagged as "Anime" (and it's not hard to find a game in that style that has just not been found and tagged yet). So in other words, one way to stand out could be to just pick another aesthetic than that particular one.
(Franco-Belgian anyone?)

Then again, creating a game that is niche just to stand out (and not because you find the niche fascinating) is probably not a good idea. If you scroll down to the bottom TIGSource it says "Make the game you want to make". Who ever wrote that made an important point.

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Re: How crowded is the visual novel market now?

#9 Post by SundownKid » Sun Jul 09, 2017 6:45 pm

Jordgubben wrote:
gekiganwing wrote: What can set a visual novel apart?

* The premise is different enough. It doesn't need a gimmick, it can just be memorable. If you look at iTunes or Steam and have a tough time finding something other than slice of life romance, then write something like action-adventure or historical mystery.

* The art stands out in a crowd. Does it appeal to an audience who might buy it?
Steam currently has 568 VNs under "New releases", of these 402 are tagged as "Anime" (and it's not hard to find a game in that style that has just not been found and tagged yet). So in other words, one way to stand out could be to just pick another aesthetic than that particular one.
(Franco-Belgian anyone?)

Then again, creating a game that is niche just to stand out (and not because you find the niche fascinating) is probably not a good idea. If you scroll down to the bottom TIGSource it says "Make the game you want to make". Who ever wrote that made an important point.
You're forgetting the cost of going with a different aesthetic and doing an actual good job. Moacube only succeeded with this because one of their team members was working on the art full time, and it only worked in Aviary Attorney because the art was literally taken from an old book. Anime is probably one of the cheapest types of art to do well, because it's essentially a realistic cartoon, and highly stylized. When you go to other art styles the amount of artistic detail goes up quite a bit, as does the amount of skill to avoid the uncanny valley, and this costs more money to hire a professional artist.
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Re: How crowded is the visual novel market now?

#10 Post by trooper6 » Sun Jul 09, 2017 6:47 pm

SundownKid wrote: You're forgetting the cost of going with a different aesthetic and doing an actual good job. Moacube only succeeded with this because one of their team members was working on the art full time. Anime is probably one of the cheapest types of art to do well, because it's essentially a realistic cartoon, and highly stylized. When you go to other art styles the amount of artistic detail goes up quite a bit, as does the amount of skill to avoid the uncanny valley, and this costs more money to hire a professional artist.
There are cartoon and stylized drawing styles other than anime.
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Re: How crowded is the visual novel market now?

#11 Post by Imperf3kt » Sun Jul 09, 2017 7:35 pm

In my personal opinion, using "anime" to tag a style, is wrong.
Anime is the Japanese word for animation. It is a loanword from English animation. This is also why many people classify anime and cartoons as different, despite being the same thing. (Disregarding the fact that a lot of "anime" is actually made in Korea)

Thus, "anime" as an art style, is silly.
Serial Experiments Lain has a very watercolor, pastel artwork to it.
Texhnolyze looks similar, yet with an oil based paint look.
K-On is flat and bright with pretty thick edges.
The differences are obvious.

Then there's Chibi anime, 3D CGI like Appleseed or the new Berserk, flash style like Panty and Stocking, photorealistic anime such as the Final Fantasy cutscenes, the bold, hand drawn and hand painted style of Redline, crude yet impactful artwork like in She and her Cat. The list of different styles goes on.....

So rather than focusing on 'avoid anime style', I believe the advice should be "avoid your average, typical moeblob style"
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Re: How crowded is the visual novel market now?

#12 Post by JBShields » Mon Jul 31, 2017 10:37 pm

To the topic question:

Yes, the market is saturated, but not as much as it could have been in the last six months. There are some reasons for this imo:

1) Some of the VN more experienced teams here are dialing up their projects and really going all-out for their next one. It takes time to produce good work, so those projects are still in development.

2) The SUCKY HORRENDOUS HEAD-TO-DESK fail of Visual Novel Maker's postponed release. Was supposed to be out in 2016. It's the 8th month of 2017 and no release date yet. Quite a few VN makers were holding out for that to be their engine especially if they didn't want to work with Renpy or the newer Tyrannobuilder.

3) Steam's tabs for their game market. Now there's "New Best Sellers" or some other junk besides simply "New Releases". Hurts the Indies, especially when a non-VN gets tagged as a VN.

On another note, I wish Itch.io would have some filter system to separate finished project games from the in development ones. If they do, I haven't figured it out yet.

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Re: How crowded is the visual novel market now?

#13 Post by JBShields » Mon Jul 31, 2017 10:38 pm

But despite the above, I still am working on a VN.

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Re: How crowded is the visual novel market now?

#14 Post by JBShields » Wed Aug 02, 2017 3:36 pm

Haha. After my post (#12) it seems like there was a sudden flood of VN releases on Steam in these last few days.

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Re: How crowded is the visual novel market now?

#15 Post by Xerofit51 » Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:54 am

There's a shit ton on mobile game Vns too

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