What is "Commercial"?

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vnovel
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What is "Commercial"?

#1 Post by vnovel » Sun Aug 14, 2011 7:53 pm

After the general forum reaction to our latest announced title, we feel the need to clarify what a commercial title means because some creative people are having difficulties understanding the importance of releasing their work commercially, and avoid it like the plague.

So... we'd like to start with what a commercial title does not mean.

Releasing a visual novel commercially does not mean that you will be cashing in big-time. The visual novel market is niche - as of yet - and the monthly amount you receive as your payment for one visual novel won't earn you enough to quit your day-job, so don't count on it.

Then, what does a commercial title really mean?

1. The money you pay for your purchase of a copy will help to support the developers and publisher of the visual novel create and establish more works of the same or higher quality. If you'd like to read/play more from the studio who has released the afore mentioned title, don't be afraid to support them with a small contribution from your wallet. Don't be stingy and want to play everything for free, when you know as well as we do that creating something of a quality takes a lot of time and effort.

2. Commercial visual novels appear on a number of highly popular game portals, therefore helping to promote independent visual novels in a word-wide setting - introducing new people to the medium, expanding the fan-base, and increasing the size of the creative community. Releasing your work commercially not only helps to budget your next game, but also supports the wider community, and increases the development, value and popularity of all indie visual novel games. A larger community means a capacity for more great stories, so all the more reason to support commercial indie VNs.

3. Possibilities. The more you earn from your commercially released titles, the more of a chance you have to create something big for your next project. Financial support helps to bring your development studio to the next level, and allows you to use tools that you would otherwise have no access to for crafting your next masterpiece.

4. In a competitive creative world, where Japanese independent and main-stream visual novels - that are coming to the west - stand far more advanced in quality to their western counterparts, to compete, you will need financial support. Releasing your work commercially on a wide scale allows you to stay up-to-date with your options, and increases your chances of success in creating something that's recognized.

Finally, we'd like to say a few words about vNovel's business philosophy:

vNovel Interactive is a commercial publisher for independent and high quality visual novels. We only publish the best - no sulking, please - and do it in order to create a collection of the finest English language visual novels to date and to promote visual novels as a medium on a wide scale, as well as to support indie VN studios reach their full potential. We don't do this for money. If we did, we wouldn't be doing visual novels - we'd be doing action games, or Angry Birds! This is our passion, and we ask that the Lemma community understands and respects this. Our achievements are not small, and in the long run we believe that we can establish visual novels in the main-stream as the highest quality story-based video games well known to the world.

We wear the name "vnovel" proudly, not because it stands for our commercial benefit, but because it stands for the best in promoting visual novels for everyone.
Working with top indie studios, such as Sakevisual, Winter Wolves, Zeiva Inc, and Team BG, to refine, promote, and release independent visual novels commercially on a wide range of platforms.

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Re: What is "Commercial"?

#2 Post by Aleema » Sun Aug 14, 2011 9:55 pm

Of course we understand and respect decisions to go commercial. Lucky Rabbit Reflex went commercial and I believe it was well-deserved and hard-earned. If you'll notice, the ruffling of feathers for your recent title is about going commercial unnecessarily. I'm not really sure if commercial+paid advertising or non-commercial+word-of-mouth is better (I do know word of mouth is the best form of advertisement), but I can say that when people have to lay down cash for something, it is under much more higher scrutiny. You can give something a bad rep by going commercial, too. Price carefully, because if you miss that threshold of expected content per dollar, you'll run the risk of alienating the community you claim to support. Right now, you're taking something that was free and well-liked, and redoing it and restricting access for $$$. People who buy your product don't really care how much you're making, because *you* are the person who needs to impress them. I'm not exactly outraged by this, and I might get closer if you took down the original game download (which I forsee because they will both come up in search results), but this kind of post about justifying your actions makes it seem like it needed to be. Our forum is no stranger to commercial projects. If we're raising an eyebrow, it's for a good reason. And saying it's a super niche market brings to light why a classic should stay free: quality free games will do more to our medium than games that people need to pay for, because putting money in the equation adds the expectation to be impressed and entertained, and if they're not, then the damage is brutal.

I can see how commercial work can be beneficial, but it needs to be good work that the community can get behind. I think there a lot of unsaid things here that put a bad taste in our mouth about it, but we're probably not the target audience, so we shouldn't really care ... I just hope you don't make a habit out of buying projects and turning them commercial. Originality will do the community way more good.

Carry on.
Last edited by Aleema on Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What is "Commercial"?

#3 Post by jakemorrow » Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:14 pm

No one said you have to buy it, Aleema. If you don't want to support Team BG for their next project, that's your thing, no need to voice it. And the original is still available for free, no one said it would disappear. What's with the hostility? I have nothing against vNovel, I think what they're doing is great. I've enjoyed every adaptation so far. They're worthy of representing a good visual novel.
Last edited by jakemorrow on Sun Aug 14, 2011 11:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What is "Commercial"?

#4 Post by Aleema » Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:34 pm

If you don't like my post, "no need to voice it." :P I removed the one personal line if that really floats your boat ... As I said, I'm not outraged by this, I'm just baffled. I'm allowed to feel that way and explain why when an entire thread comes up on the subject.

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Re: What is "Commercial"?

#5 Post by jakemorrow » Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:39 pm

I realize I may have stepped out of line a little... I apologize, Aleema. I'm not saying that you don't care about Team BG, I think you very much do. It's just that there's no need to be so negative about something that will only help Team BG make their next visual novel even better than the last. There's nothing wrong with fine-tuning a great work of art and promoting it. I look forward to Team BG's next work, and I choose to support them for that reason. It also helps that Songs of Araiah is one of my all-time-favorite visual novels.

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Re: What is "Commercial"?

#6 Post by Aleema » Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:43 pm

I support Team BG, of course. I am perhaps too eager to see future games than re-releasing old ones. Also, I suffer from severe poorness, so I am particularly sensitive to commercial arguments. Most of what I said is specifically about this thread's opening post. I'm not attacking Songs of Araiah, since I'd probably do a better job in the game's official thread, heh.

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Re: What is "Commercial"?

#7 Post by lordcloudx » Mon Aug 15, 2011 1:01 am

Just throwing a few thoughts around regarding the initial post:

1. Excuse me, but how does the "quality" for time and effort argument factor in exactly? Doesn't that basically mean that any profits made from the game will buy this so-called "time" and "effort" for the creators?

2. Just like the first argument, I agree with the logical first part of your statement but... A larger community means a capacity for more great stories, so all the more reason to support commercial indie VNs... lolwhut? Do you mean something like Zaregoto's misuse of the law of great numbers? Put more people in = greater likelihood of some prolific individual discovering the medium?

3. Heh, this is pretty subjective unless the creators are dirt-poor, eh? What kind of sophisticated tools are we talking about here that the every salaryman can't already afford?

4. Good point. Though I'd argue that the commercial EVN titles on offer right now have a different audience from the commercial JVN titles brought to the west. (I'm from the southeast, btw).

edit: I'm going to drag him into this just because I know he'd hate it :D. To be honest, I think the more personal justifications that the original author posted in the WIP forum holds more water than this business-like, categorical listing.
How do you make your games? I see. Thank you for the prompt replies, but it is my considered opinion that you're doing it wrong inefficiently because I am a perfushenal professional. Do it my way this way and we can all ascend VN Nirvana together while allowing me to stroke my ego you will improve much faster. Also, please don't forget to thank me for this constructive critique or I will cry and bore you to death respond appropriately with a tl;dr rant discourse of epic adequately lengthy proportions. - Sarcasm Veiled in Euphemism: Secrets of Forum Civility by lordcloudx (Coming soon to an online ebook near you.)

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Re: What is "Commercial"?

#8 Post by vnovel » Mon Aug 15, 2011 3:07 am

Please note that we have no intention of "justifying our actions," or falling into any unnecessary arguments. The single purpose of this thread is to state our standing and explain vNovel Interactive's professional point of view, to clear up any misunderstanding. The word "commercial" seems to have negative connotations associated with it within Lemma circles, and we're trying to raise awareness that "commercial" doesn't necessarily mean "bad."

You don't have to agree with our philosophy, nor are we forcing anyone to buy or release their games as commercial titles. We are simply stating our experience and insight in an attempt to acquaint ourselves with the community because we feel that in the long run there's a lot where we can help, and there's no need to be a stranger.

That said, I am going to answer a few of the questions raised in the comments in this thread:
Aleema wrote:non-commercial+word-of-mouth is better
While "word-of-mouth" may work as a marketing tool in smaller circles, it may not suit all developers and all products. Many creative people find after the few initial projects that they need a wider exposure (in professional circles).
Aleema wrote:You can give something a bad rep by going commercial, too. Price carefully...
Agreed. Which is why we recommend getting the help of an experienced visual novel publisher before going commercial. In fact, that's the whole reason we are here.
lordcloudx wrote:Doesn't that basically mean that any profits made from the game will buy this so-called "time" and "effort" for the creators?
I'm not quite sure what you mean there. Creating a new project takes many kinds of input. In the case of a commercial project, it takes time, effort, and investment, yes. The quality requirements of a commercial project are quite high.
lordcloudx wrote:A larger community means a capacity for more great stories, so all the more reason to support commercial indie VNs... lolwhut?
You sound like you are afraid of a little competition. ;) Healthy competition is good. It helps to drive the community to create more and create better. The master-painters of the Renaissance didn't get to where they climbed by being the only ones around to paint a painting. In fact, if you are alone, you'll find it's harder to get noticed for your work.
lordcloudx wrote:Heh, this is pretty subjective unless the creators are dirt-poor, eh?
Please show a little respect for the other members of this community if you'd like me to answer your questions.
lordcloudx wrote:What kind of sophisticated tools are we talking about here that the every salaryman can't already afford?
E.g. advanced digital painting software, composition, video editing, animation, etc. A team of artists? It can be any matter of things. As the industry grows, more and more will be required to keep up. That's just how things work in any industry.
lordcloudx wrote:I'm going to drag him into this just because I know he'd hate it...
She will not hate it, but if the questions are meaningless, she will not reply... :?

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Working with top indie studios, such as Sakevisual, Winter Wolves, Zeiva Inc, and Team BG, to refine, promote, and release independent visual novels commercially on a wide range of platforms.

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Re: What is "Commercial"?

#9 Post by lordcloudx » Mon Aug 15, 2011 3:29 am

vnovel wrote: I'm not quite sure what you mean there. Creating a new project takes many kinds of input. In the case of a commercial project, it takes time, effort, and investment, yes. The quality requirements of a commercial project are quite high.
The same could be said of all religions high quality projects whether commercial or not. Your initial post seems to imply that you need money to make something of high quality. Pardon me for saying this, but that's quite insulting and dismissive to the freeware EVN scene.
vnovel wrote: You sound like you are afraid of a little competition. ;) Healthy competition is good. It helps to drive the community to create more and create better. The master-painters of the Renaissance didn't get to where they climbed by being the only ones around to paint a painting. In fact, if you are alone, you'll find it's harder to get noticed for your work.
I'm pretty sure everyone is aware of the validity of that economic theory by now. Also, that little poke was out of line. I'm quite certain I never got personal with you so please try to avoid that in the future. To answer that poke: I don't view other visual novels as competition.

As for the competition is better for the community thing, perhaps on the larger commercial scale. As far as I know, an aggressive, competitive attitude was never one that was met with open arms in what is currently the biggest EVN community that is LSF. Each community does have its certain set of written and unwritten norms. Best to get acquainted with them before making any bold claims -- even if those claims may be well accepted in other communities.
vnovel wrote:Please show a little respect for the other members of this community if you'd like me to answer your questions.
You completely misunderstand this particular statement if you think it was being disrespectful. I'm stating a fact. You don't need sophisticated tools to produce high quality works. Otherwise, you'd be saying that some of the pioneers in the EVN industry have never produced a single high quality work. There's also the fact that some smaller commercial teams prefer to work with people they trust rather than following any tried and true business models and it seems to work for them.
vnovel wrote:E.g. advanced digital painting software, composition, video editing, animation, etc. A team of artists? It can be any matter of things. As the industry grows, more and more will be required to keep up. That's just how things work in any industry.
While I agree that getting more capable people on the job might potentially churn out a better piece. I think the indie gaming scene is the one place where that doesn't necessarily apply.

In any case, it's pure conjecturing at this point that more sophisticated tools will necessarily be required to keep up with the industry. I think this where the indie gaming industry really shines. It's a sort of equalizer for the ordinary person who dreams big against the giants of the gaming industry. In fact, I'm pretty sure no one can really claim to accurately predict the market trends in the indie gaming scene because you never know where the next sleeper hit will come from and the scene itself seems to be supported by one sleeper hit after another. There are gems within the commercial indie game industry whose production staff consists of nothing but 2-person to 4-person teams.

To clarify, I concede that there is a barrier for entry into any commercial endeavor but I submit that it is inherently lower as far as the indie gaming industry is concerned.
vnovel wrote: She will not hate it, but if the questions are meaningless, she will not reply... :?

I'm talking about Drakenavarone from Team BG. I have a pic of him in a silly santa hat unless he was lying when he showed that to me. Slight misunderstanding here.

For the record, I have no problems at all with the Songs of Araiah remake nor to its going commercial. Just saying that I preferred drakey's more personal "selfish" justifications rather than the ones being advanced by vnovel as an entity.
Last edited by lordcloudx on Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:05 am, edited 7 times in total.
How do you make your games? I see. Thank you for the prompt replies, but it is my considered opinion that you're doing it wrong inefficiently because I am a perfushenal professional. Do it my way this way and we can all ascend VN Nirvana together while allowing me to stroke my ego you will improve much faster. Also, please don't forget to thank me for this constructive critique or I will cry and bore you to death respond appropriately with a tl;dr rant discourse of epic adequately lengthy proportions. - Sarcasm Veiled in Euphemism: Secrets of Forum Civility by lordcloudx (Coming soon to an online ebook near you.)

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Re: What is "Commercial"?

#10 Post by KomiTsuku » Mon Aug 15, 2011 3:39 am

I don't think everyone was getting angry that you are making a commercial game, I think they're agitated that you are just putting polish on an existing game and then selling it. Personally, unless it is some major upgrades, I don't really think it is good business sense to try selling it, especially since it is a "niche" as mentioned.
You sound like you are afraid of a little competition. ;) Healthy competition is good.
If it's just a rehash, it's not really competition, is it? The original was/is, but unless there are significant differences that make it stand apart from the other, it is still just the original work as a contribution to the community.

Anyway, I don't really have a problem with what you're doing (heck, I'm looking at the numbers for my Dreams of the Skies remake, and I know I'd love to make some of that back). It just doesn't seem... productive.

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Re: What is "Commercial"?

#11 Post by HikkiPanda » Mon Aug 15, 2011 3:44 am

Here is my opinion:
1. Re-making old stuff instead of making a new one
I think there is nothing wrong with it, a lot of people do it, right? (I'm talking about those biggie companies off course)? And usually, the fans rejoice. Example:
- A lot of sport games' sequel is basically the same game, with better graphic, more realistic physic engine, smarter AI, more maps, etc
- Harvest Moon - Back to Nature - for PSOne, try to compare it with 'Harvest Moon For Girls' version and their GBA version. All 4 of them are basically the same game.
- Evangelion, there is the TV series, followed by several OVAs, manga, and now Evangelion Rebuild movies ... all of them are remake of the original ...
- UC 0079: Mobile Suit Gundam, there is a remake manga titled "Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin", which will also receive an anime adaptation soon

2. Turning something free into commercial?
As long as it helps the author, i have no problem with it. If the author is an Indie (instead of a big company), then I'll totally support him/her even more. Because as an Indie, he/she needs all the help he can get. I'll explain this in my next point

3. Why most English Indie products pales in comparison with Japanese doujin?
Unlike their english counterpart, Japanese Indie developers sell their stuff. They have Comiket and a lot of similar events, they also have a lot of stores that sells doujin. Those high school/college students receive money from their hardworks, that's how those high quality product borns. They're professional (or at least plan to go pro)! ... if you watch Leonidas' 300, you will know the difference between professional warrior and ordinary people with weapon (it's that scene where Leonidas and his Spartan army went to battlefield and met an army which was basically a bunch of commoner with weapons ( they're consist of blacksmith, peasant, meat butcher, etc.)

note: I don't really like debate, so I won't visit/replly this thread that often .. besides, i'm busy with my own project

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Re: What is "Commercial"?

#12 Post by DaFool » Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:09 am

Here's my beef:

In the past, labors of love made entirely during the author's free time have been trashed by trolls expecting a certain level of polish and couldn't stomach the idea of an amateur game getting lots of praise.

At the same time, there have been a few free games where players have hinted "I would gladly pay for this!"

Then it struck me. People just want good games. To me at least (a person with a day job), it doesn't matter if something is free or commercial. Either I'm interested in it if it's good, or I'm not.

On the other hand, whether something will be freeware or commercial should be decided before production on a title has even begun. Yes, porting a freeware title to make it commercial comes off a little cheap. But at the same time, you can also feel it for creators of titles like Cave Story since they get fame but without the compensation... it almost makes you want to buy the 3DS version even if you really don't have any interest in the new version.

In my first commercial game, I pay everyone up front or decide on a split of the royalties (usually artists are paid in full; co-writers and co-programmers on royalties). Even with people willing to work with me for free I have to insist on payment -- it's just the philosophy behind a commercial beast. You can even lose friends. Still, it's a whole different level of development experience which is sort of worth it in its own sadistic way.

And I want to emphasize that there are avenues that commercial titles can enter where freeware titles are barred entry; in the same way that freeware reaches segments that commercial does not. The perfect strategy to expand the scene, therefore, is to combine freeware and commercial titles and have one kind promote the other. Can you not all see what everyone wants is just an audience!

Had I known the EVN scene will consist of nothing but chan-tards and circlejerk friends, I would have thrown in the towel a long time ago. I was hoping that it could potentially - ya know - actually have an additional audience... like the Otome scene, for a good example. So vnovel has my support, this time.

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Re: What is "Commercial"?

#13 Post by vnovel » Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:51 am

I don't even know if I should be getting into this...
I will address the remarks you've made, lordcloudx, only briefly to clear any remaining misunderstanding. I will refrain from answering after this point, to avoid further argument.
lordcloudx wrote:Your initial post seems to imply that you need money to make something of high quality.
Please note that we never said you can't create a really high quality visual novel and release it completely for free, lordcloudx. In fact, I wish you good luck in your efforts, sincerely. I know that's not easy and requires a lot of (self-)sacrifice. Our respect goes to anyone who's willing to pay that high a price for passion. I hope you succeed to your expectations.
lordcloudx wrote:As far as I know, an aggressive, competitive attitude was never one that was met with open arms...
Please note that no-one has mentioned an "aggressive, competitive attitude." I only spoke of healthy creative competitive spirit.
lordcloudx wrote:Also, that little poke was out of line.
No harm intended: only a friendly nudge.
lordcloudx wrote:Slight misunderstanding here.
Indeed, a misunderstanding.

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Re: What is "Commercial"?

#14 Post by Taleweaver » Mon Aug 15, 2011 6:57 am

DaFool wrote:In the past, labors of love made entirely during the author's free time have been trashed by trolls expecting a certain level of polish and couldn't stomach the idea of an amateur game getting lots of praise.
*cough*Megatokyo Forums*cough*
People just want good games.
Amen, brother.
Can you not all see what everyone wants is just an audience!
Amen to that as well. And if you combine both, what do you get?

People want good games.
Game creators want an audience.
If game creators make good games, everybody will be happy.

In my book, that means if you're dedicated to making good games, you deserve credit instead of criticism, no matter whether you're going commercial or freeware. That doesn't mean your final products shouldn't receive due constructive criticism after they're complete, but bashing people who sincerely believe they're on their way to producing something good and worthwhile is totally out of line.

Game-makers need all the encouragement they can get while they're on a project. It's up to their potential audience to provide it.
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Re: What is "Commercial"?

#15 Post by Aleema » Mon Aug 15, 2011 7:18 am

Posting this thread is what's aggressive, if you want to be honest. The OP comes off as scolding Lemmasoft and justifying yourself. You ask us to respect your commercial decision and such near the end, as if that was the whole point. I replied because I don't think it's fair to say that if there's some issues raised with what you're doing, it's definitely our faults and you need to school us. Maybe you could've said "I can see how you would feel ABC, but reassured that XYZ." Tell us how awesome your remake is going to be. That sort of thing. Instead, your walls went up and this thread happened. That doesn't clear your slate and set the record straight, in my opinion. If you didn't want a discussion about this, then you should have never posted this thread. And know that I replied because of those above mentioned connotations, not really that I care very much about the SoA remake. I hope it does well and that the original author gets everything that's coming to him and he didn't sell out or something. But it's really not my business. My business is you criticizing the community for having concerns.

If I may turn your attention to sakevisual (which I don't need to introduce to you, just remind), a company that makes both free and commercial games on the laurels of an established game, Re:Alistair. She didn't turn that game commercial because she wanted to to make more and better games. For one, she worked and earned her own money outside of the gaming label, and for two, she made things like an art book, plushies, etc to take advantage of her successful game. And then she personally works hard to sell these things face-to-face and gain word of mouth not just for herself, but others and our community. A good first game can set people up for a successful label/a good portfolio can make an artists career/etc. And there are other ways to get a good rep that isn't just rehashing things, so don't say this was the only way to support new games, because it really isn't. That's all.

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