Could an English VN do well in Japan?

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Re: Could an English VN do well in Japan?

#16 Post by Tsundere Lightning » Fri Sep 06, 2013 4:57 pm

It's my understanding that Katawa Shoujo was popular at Comic Market, so English VN's already can become popular in Japan.

At least part of that is Raide's delight at someone doing something with that legendary illustration he did - the original inspiration. And that the Japanese translation was reportedly very good.

It comes down to how well you translate it and how good the writing is. I also imagine that games set in other times and places - even places as close as an American college - would be exotic and new to them and therefore of interest. See also the American reaction to things Japanese. :mrgreen:
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Re: Could an English VN do well in Japan?

#17 Post by Starshine » Sat Sep 14, 2013 6:59 pm

Greeny wrote:In any case, it'd be a lot harder even getting the product to the people.
From my experience, the Japanese don't use the internet the way we do; although I have to admit I only know about the average person, not so much about the subset of Otaku culture.
Yes, they use their own webs search/ search engine called sakura? or something but i think most or all of them use google now, there was a time when that site was used by the japanese, they used to link every anime/game or art that they did. I think for art today most of them moved to pix? Pixiv.net, a site which became worldwide for cartoons/animation/anime, and now they produce/release most of their games on DL site. Although the only thing with the DL site is that someone will end up downloading a product and then sharing it so most of the profit wont be made for the games release.

To make a game for japan you would need to know basic japanese, i'm not sure if anyone translates english games to japanese on this site, although i think they translate japanese to english. I think the game would have to be a hit to get attention from the japanese public.

Are the japanese public hard to please?

1. In the 80's a english singer released a song about japan, it became a hit in a few countys although it didn't do well in japan, they thought it sounded chinese...

2. I have also heard rumors that official games released with english voice-over artists dont do too well in japan.

Japan is more westernized today, i think to get a hit in japan you would need help from someone who actually is japanese, they know the in's and outs of that business :)
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Re: Could an English VN do well in Japan?

#18 Post by Verstehen » Sun Sep 15, 2013 6:13 pm

While it is possible I have noticed a trend of people taking quite the shit about western VNs. Some people won't even touch them, with previously said Katawa Shoujo being an exception.

Japanese audiences can be considered fairly picky when compared to other culture's ease to please, but I guess it'd be like taking a style somebody is use to seeing, hitting every cliche because you consider it new while they've already become fairly bored with it, and sending it back to them. Most cartoons from other countries only do well in America or Canada when they're unique even by the country's standards, but also in good enough quality to be considered "good" by the general audience.
I assume most people in the Japanese audience would prefer getting home made work over gambling on an impression and it would probably feel more "official" to them. The usual mindset in any consumer audience "official = best" which makes it extremely difficult to become popular with the consumer market without belonging to an official company. Because of that you're mostly banking on a ludicrous amount of good luck that anyone even notices your work.

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Re: Could an English VN do well in Japan?

#19 Post by Akitsuki » Sun Sep 15, 2013 10:18 pm

Well, I'm just telling my opinion here since I know nothing about the chances or probability. But I'm sure that VN starts from Japan first and it's obvious that VNs are best from Japan as you can say VN is 'theirs'. I'm not saying that VNs outside Japan are not good, but Japanese VNs are widely known and most people would prefer it to the English ones as English VN's circle is still young compared to the Japanese.

Seeing that condition, if I were a Japanese, I myself would like to play Japanese VNs rather than the English ones. Other reasons would just like what ௵ಲ್ಲಾ৺᧯ said, as Japan has their VNs called "official" like I stated above. And yeah Japanese are rather proud of their country's works. In the end, I'm not saying it's impossible, it's just difficult since you have to change their point of view first about visual novel.

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Re: Could an English VN do well in Japan?

#20 Post by gekiganwing » Wed Sep 18, 2013 12:22 am

For what it's worth, Analogue: A Hate Story will have an official Japanese translation. I took a moment to look at the company's site Playism.jp, and saw that it has already translated several indie games, including Machinarium, The White Chamber, and Dear Esther.
௵ಲ್ಲಾ৺᧯ wrote:While it is possible I have noticed a trend of people taking quite the shit about western VNs. Some people won't even touch them, with previously said Katawa Shoujo being an exception.
I know what you mean. I'm a person who has played -- and tried to like -- a variety of translated games (both official and fan-made) with very mixed results. I understand that Sturgeon's Law affects *everything.* Yet the biases and opinions of my fellow fans are sometimes baffling. I don't know if they want or expect AAA quality art and design from zero-budget freeware.

Works such as Cause of Death, Everlove, and Cinders have art that's distinctly different from recent anime-manga aesthetics. If they were better known, would they get more respect? I am not sure.

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Re: Could an English VN do well in Japan?

#21 Post by Tempus » Wed Sep 18, 2013 5:29 am

Katawa Shoujo was at 800 x 600 and had filtered photographs for backgrounds. If KS was well received in Japan, then clearly AAA quality (or even consistent) art isn't the issue.
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Re: Could an English VN do well in Japan?

#22 Post by PN04 » Thu Sep 19, 2013 4:47 am

Interestingly enough, I wondered the same thing a while back.

I've been looking at DLsite for quite some time as a method to destribute content and make a little money. The thing I noticed in my research of the place a lot is that almost everything sells better in Japan than it does here, especially adult games. I figure it's due to how quickly things get pirated in the west, it generally limits how much money a Japanese product makes here, while the Japanese on the other hand will happily pay for their adult content. I started thinking it might actually be better to produce an adult title and mainly sell it to Japanese users more than anyone else. At first I considered selling something untranslated just to see and maybe if I could hit enough places (like Pixiv, Nico or FC2video) with previews or trailers of the game it might spur a few purchases, and even if I only get half as many sales as a Japanese product it could potentially do better than the sales numbers I see on the site for titles originating here.

Unfortunately, I've only just started with Ren'py and doubt I can produce anything in a reasonable time frame (let along produce an adult title) to test this, so my opinion has little I can base it on aside from the sales numbers, but I feel that even if the Japanese can be stubborn about stuff not made by, them there could be enough people who'd show enough curiosity to lay out some money for it if the art was at least well done enough to make up for the lack of translation.

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Re: Could an English VN do well in Japan?

#23 Post by BCS » Thu Sep 19, 2013 7:46 am

melodym3 wrote:This isn't directed at anything specific, just something I was thinking about today and was curious about. I assume most people on this forum are creators of western, english speaking visual novels (or sims/otome/stat raisers/kinetic/ect), not all of course, but the majority seems to be such.

Japanese VNs translated into english have a market here, but what about the reverse. If you were able to get your entire game translated, and then was able to market it properly to a Japanese audience, do you think it would have a chance at success overseas?

Maybe it's just that I haven't seen this done often, which I'm sure is for a variety of reasons (cost of translating, amount of work involved, and other variables) but I feel even if you got past all the obstacles it wouldn't have the same effect as those Japanese counterparts.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever considered trying to branch into that market? We already know there's a calling for these games there, but does that even apply to what we're doing?
Well, sure it could! Hideo Kojima loves the west and Metal Gear is an extremely successful series. It's all about who you know, really, and Japan freaking LOVES VNs.
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Re: Could an English VN do well in Japan?

#24 Post by TrickWithAKnife » Thu Sep 19, 2013 11:14 am

If the translations are good enough, how are they to know that the VNs weren't made in Japan?
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Re: Could an English VN do well in Japan?

#25 Post by Tempus » Fri Sep 20, 2013 1:31 am

TrickWithAKnife wrote:If the translations are good enough, how are they to know that the VNs weren't made in Japan?
Because they're set in Japanese high schools rife with inaccuracies. Bam-dum sss!

Though I guess fact checking would be part of the localisation process.
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Re: Could an English VN do well in Japan?

#26 Post by TrickWithAKnife » Fri Sep 20, 2013 3:18 am

I always presumed that Japanese VNs generally contain the same bizarre views as each other, meaning that any who has played a few should be able to emulate them without too much effort.
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Re: Could an English VN do well in Japan?

#27 Post by Aurélie » Fri Sep 20, 2013 3:22 am

I think while the localisation process and chances for interest would be fine, it's a matter of platform? In my experience, loads of originally Japanese VNs are for the DS and PSP. I don't know if commercial VNs for PC are as popular over there as the DS and PSP ones.

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Re: Could an English VN do well in Japan?

#28 Post by papillon » Fri Sep 20, 2013 5:09 am

PN04 wrote: I've been looking at DLsite for quite some time as a method to destribute content and make a little money. The thing I noticed in my research of the place a lot is that almost everything sells better in Japan than it does here, especially adult games. I figure it's due to how quickly things get pirated in the west, it generally limits how much money a Japanese product makes here, while the Japanese on the other hand will happily pay for their adult content.
Japanese products are pirated widely too. If you're comparing sales figures on eng.dlsite with figures on maniax, there's the small issue that hardly anybody knows eng.dlsite EXISTS. (Or cares, since most of what's on sale there isn't in English.)

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Re: Could an English VN do well in Japan?

#29 Post by PN04 » Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:51 pm

papillon wrote: Japanese products are pirated widely too. If you're comparing sales figures on eng.dlsite with figures on maniax, there's the small issue that hardly anybody knows eng.dlsite EXISTS. (Or cares, since most of what's on sale there isn't in English.)
In terms of mass market penetration, I agree English DLsite is a tiny blip on a massive radar, but if you're into Japanese doujin culture or import products in the west I would imagine people know about it as much as they know places like getchu, J-list or Play-asia, although they might not buy as much from DLsite because there's a lot more amateur product than there is what people consider "professional" product. Knowing the language would be nice, but if you really want it you'll get it regardless and hope for a translation patch or explanatory documentation to be released.

Not to make it too much about the concept of stealing, but English DLsite is well enough known that pirates refer back to the site to get thumbnails for their torrent posts. I think the free spread of these titles likely hurts their sales in the US because (many) people here would rather pirate than pay, but the Japanese, despite the fact that these things are floating around "free" on the web if they simply google it, seem like they will still happily pay for them more often despite being less of an "online purchase" culture ...or if they're pirating too then there's still a lot more people who shell out money for the products that peak their interest. When something like one of Tinkle Bell's kinetic novels (which you dont even need to know Japanese to enjoy) sells at most 1200 copies here but can sell 23000 copies in japan, it makes you think it could be possible to sell at least 600 of a modest western made product on the JP DLsite, assuming it was well produced. A far cry from selling none at all.

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Re: Could an English VN do well in Japan?

#30 Post by papillon » Fri Sep 20, 2013 5:36 pm

Yes, pirates and super-hardcore japanese fans (who hate anything western-made and call it weeaboo) know that dlsite exists. They're the "hardly anybody". It still is not comparable to how things actually sell on a site targeted to and advertising to paying western customers.

Remember, I sell games for a living. And you can see exactly how many copies I've sold on eng.DLsite in about four years: 12. It's not because nobody buys my games - I wouldn't be paying my rent if that were true! But people who buy these games in English are not looking for them on DLsite.

eng.DLsite's sales figures will tell you how much things sell on eng.DLsite. Not how much things sell in general.

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