Do you think there is a market for non-anime visual novels?

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Do you think there is a market for non-anime visual novels?

#1 Post by Showakun » Mon Nov 02, 2020 3:40 am

I am not talking about vns that are in no way visually influenced by anime (there are none, because vns are invented in Japan) but just vns that are not obviously catering to otaku audience at first glance. I wish there was a surge of vns inspired, at least partly, by european comics and/or Disney and I've seen something like this but apart from being related to furry community, I haven't seen any that are too commercially successful. (Unless they are in 3D and are somehow "conceptual")

I may be wrong, though so I am asking you honestly - is there a market, commercially and spiritually, I guess, for vns that are not anime?

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Re: Do you think there is a market for non-anime visual novels?

#2 Post by ghostclown » Mon Nov 02, 2020 11:12 am

Sure hope so, since that's what I'm making. Gotta be the change you want to see, right?

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Re: Do you think there is a market for non-anime visual novels?

#3 Post by parttimestorier » Mon Nov 02, 2020 12:09 pm

There are plenty of visual novels that aren't especially anime-influenced, either in tone or visual style. And while you're right that a lot of what we associate with the visual novel genre comes out of Japan, I'm not sure I would agree that that makes all VNs somewhat influenced by anime either. A lot of the early Japanese VNs were influenced by American adventure games, and a lot of visual novels today draw from plenty of other sources. Just looking at my own list of favourites, here are a few that come to mind for being less "anime" than others:

428 Shibuya Scramble, a Japanese VN that uses pictures of live actors to great effect

Cinderella Phenomenon, an English VN that draws from several fairy tales

Cross The Moon, an English VN with a really cool black-and-white film aesthetic

Extreme Meatpunks Forever, an English VN/action game hybrid that's a really unique experience in many ways

Pizza Game, an English comedy VN with a wacky sense of humour and cartoony aesthetic

That's just a random five that I personally enjoy, but some of them are pretty popular too, and it's only one small sample of the varied visual novel content that's available. So if you're thinking of developing a visual novel that's not anime-influenced yourself, rest assured that there's definitely a market for it. You could probably find a bunch more examples if you just browsed around itch.io a bit or something. People are making new cool VNs with tons of different styles and influences all the time.
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Re: Do you think there is a market for non-anime visual novels?

#4 Post by Donmai » Mon Nov 02, 2020 12:42 pm

No.
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Re: Do you think there is a market for non-anime visual novels?

#5 Post by Showakun » Mon Nov 02, 2020 1:46 pm

Thank you, both enthusiasts and sceptics! Strangely, I think both of your responses have some merit. parttimestorier's response in particular reassured me that a game can be both non anime inspired and successful, although success is relative, of course. Perhaps when it comes to more unusual vns, creators themselves become more important - as in, if a very influental tumblr or instagram artist decided to make a vn, I think people would buy it even if it was completely non-anime. (Maybe the opposite is also true because after all too generic anime doesn't stand out enough especially if creator is not very famous)

Still, can I ask a couple of questions for clarity? :)

Do you prefer Japanese or foreign made (even if Asian) vns?

If you prefer Japanese, is it because of graphics or writing?

If you had to play a more visually anime vn and more unique style vn (regardless of origin) if they were same quality and both attractive to you, which one would you play RIGHT NOW?

If you are making a vn, do you make it unique style (as in personal artist style) or anime style?

And, if you are wondering, my answers:

I prefer Japanese vns. Because of writing, not graphics. Writing would decide which game I'd play but more unique style would catch my attention more. I prefer making vns in unique visual styles.

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Re: Do you think there is a market for non-anime visual novels?

#6 Post by Mutive » Mon Nov 02, 2020 2:12 pm

There's a market for everything. (Personally I prefer a non-anime aesthetic, but I'm also a market of one.)

Is it a huge market? My guess is no. But there isn't a huge market for ELVNs to the best of my knowledge. (And my guess is that if you want to chase riches, developing VNs probably isn't the path for you.)
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Re: Do you think there is a market for non-anime visual novels?

#7 Post by Elsa Kisiel » Mon Nov 02, 2020 5:41 pm

Like Mutive said, there's a market for everything.

I really think that every graphic style, as long as it's well made, can find its player base. The most important is that the graphics are matching with the story's tone.
( Unless the gap is deliberate, for an humoristic/parodic VN.)

It's important to keep your intended audience in mind too.
Which is kind of the problem with your post here: you're asking what we likes, but we don't even know what your game is about. Let's say it's a dating simulator and I hate dating simulator: then, my preferences aren't going to be useful. The style I don't like might suit very well this kind of game. And I wouldn't have bought the game anyway, even with another graphic style.
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Re: Do you think there is a market for non-anime visual novels?

#8 Post by ghostclown » Mon Nov 02, 2020 11:47 pm

For me, the strongest draw of Japanese VNs is the voice acting. I don't think it's the actors' fault, but I feel like there are often production/direction issues with English-based voice acting that end up with something that feels like an inferior product to what you get from Japanese VAs. I'm also a localization nerd who likes to compare the English and Japanese, so I enjoy having Japanese language tracks on for that reason as well.

The strongest draw of English-based VNs is that I do get a little bit tired of the Japanese tropes sometimes. I feel like English-based media is more likely to break molds in terms of the characters, stories, and plot elements used.

Beyond that, though, I don't have a huge preference between Japanese and non-Japanese VNs. I'll choose a more unique art style, but only because I think it implies a more unique story.

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Re: Do you think there is a market for non-anime visual novels?

#9 Post by ketskari » Tue Nov 03, 2020 12:39 pm

I think it's more difficult.

And I say this as someone who made a commercial visual novel in a Western/kind of classical painting art style. I probably wouldn't make another pure visual novel unless I adopted a simpler character art style for it. I still like visual novels with different styles, quite a bit, actually. But it can be hard to sell, esp. with romances. It's easier to feel like you're in the shoes of a cartoony character. (And we're used to seeing realistic characters in live action or full 3D situations, not as static cutouts).

Game genres are associated with style. So CRPGs are strongly associated with a Western style since they evolved from DnD games. Point 'n clicks are still associated with a realistic pixel style or a whacky cartoony style like in old retro games, although more modern 3d realistic art is ok, too. JRPGs and visual novels are strongly tied to the original style that made them popular.

So even if you wanted to use a non anime cartoony style, you're still swimming against the tide. Not as much, perhaps, especially if it's leaning toward anime.

Could someone break free and change the game, so to speak? Sure, but you'd be fighting against market expectations. It's like if you wanted to write a science fiction novel and when you got around to designing the cover you decided on the mysterious minimalist photography from the YA/romance genre. Maybe there's more leeway than that with games, but there are still expectations. People make assumptions about what a game is about based on the art, so it may be the difference between someone clicking your thumbnail or not. Maybe if you understand marketing you can overcome those assumptions and expectations.

Games are usually more product than art. Even walking simulators (games' wannabe literary genre) are marketed with the same overall style (realistic, beautiful 3D with an emphasis on environment).
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Re: Do you think there is a market for non-anime visual novels?

#10 Post by MapletreePaper » Fri Nov 06, 2020 8:30 am

ketskari wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 12:39 pm

Game genres are associated with style. So CRPGs are strongly associated with a Western style since they evolved from DnD games. Point 'n clicks are still associated with a realistic pixel style or a whacky cartoony style like in old retro games, although more modern 3d realistic art is ok, too. JRPGs and visual novels are strongly tied to the original style that made them popular.

So even if you wanted to use a non anime cartoony style, you're still swimming against the tide. Not as much, perhaps, especially if it's leaning toward anime.
I feel like it also hinges on the story's setting. I'm in the middle of producing my own project and have no plans to use an anime art style. My VN is an action adventure set in 1980s Canada and while I agree with everything you said, I believe an anime art style would clash with the game's themes and possibly be misleading. When using anime art there's a strong expectation of a connection with Japan or Japanese culture. My VN has neither and honestly I sometimes wonder if I should even market it as a visual novel, despite otherwise fitting the definition to a T. I'm even using Ren'Py to make the thing.

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Re: Do you think there is a market for non-anime visual novels?

#11 Post by ghostclown » Fri Nov 06, 2020 10:44 am

MapletreePaper wrote:
Fri Nov 06, 2020 8:30 am
I sometimes wonder if I should even market it as a visual novel, despite otherwise fitting the definition to a T. I'm even using Ren'Py to make the thing.
What would you market it as otherwise?

I had originally considered the same thing; putting in more point-and-click elements and going for a more oldschool adventure game type of vibe. I ultimately decided that was too large of a scope for a solo dev project though.

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Re: Do you think there is a market for non-anime visual novels?

#12 Post by MapletreePaper » Fri Nov 06, 2020 11:38 am

ghostclown wrote:
Fri Nov 06, 2020 10:44 am
MapletreePaper wrote:
Fri Nov 06, 2020 8:30 am
I sometimes wonder if I should even market it as a visual novel, despite otherwise fitting the definition to a T. I'm even using Ren'Py to make the thing.
What would you market it as otherwise?
I'm entirely not sure. A text adventure? No, that doesn't make any sense...

This is just a doubt I have, not necessarily something I'm gonna act on. I feel there's a stigma around what VNs can and can't be. Someone in this thread literally answered "no" to the subject question. No elaboration or discussion, a simple one word answer.
Donmai wrote:
Mon Nov 02, 2020 12:42 pm
No.
Be rest assured, I don't intend to change my vision for the sake of "fitting" into the genre. My concern is that the term "visual novel" sets up certain expectations for people. Maybe it's better not to use it in advertising.

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Re: Do you think there is a market for non-anime visual novels?

#13 Post by Mutive » Fri Nov 06, 2020 12:13 pm

MapletreePaper wrote:
Fri Nov 06, 2020 11:38 am

Be rest assured, I don't intend to change my vision for the sake of "fitting" into the genre. My concern is that the term "visual novel" sets up certain expectations for people. Maybe it's better not to use it in advertising.
I think you almost *have* to state what type of game it is in advertising. (I, for one, would be highly unlikely to buy a game that is a...game. I want to know if it's a VN, RPG, point and click adventure, puzzle game, strategy game, platformer, FPS, etc. Mostly because I like some of those genres better than others.)

And if your game *is* a VN, but you declare it to be something else, that's not great either. I'd be pretty irritated if I bought a game I *thought* was, say, a point and click adventure just to find that it was secretly a VN (with very little point and clicking involved).
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Re: Do you think there is a market for non-anime visual novels?

#14 Post by MapletreePaper » Fri Nov 06, 2020 12:29 pm

Mutive wrote:
Fri Nov 06, 2020 12:13 pm
MapletreePaper wrote:
Fri Nov 06, 2020 11:38 am

Be rest assured, I don't intend to change my vision for the sake of "fitting" into the genre. My concern is that the term "visual novel" sets up certain expectations for people. Maybe it's better not to use it in advertising.
I think you almost *have* to state what type of game it is in advertising. (I, for one, would be highly unlikely to buy a game that is a...game. I want to know if it's a VN, RPG, point and click adventure, puzzle game, strategy game, platformer, FPS, etc. Mostly because I like some of those genres better than others.)

And if your game *is* a VN, but you declare it to be something else, that's not great either. I'd be pretty irritated if I bought a game I *thought* was, say, a point and click adventure just to find that it was secretly a VN (with very little point and clicking involved).
I don't think the boundaries between genres are that obvious, but I definitely agree that customers should know what they're buying. I guess the topic we're approaching now is what counts as a VN and what doesn't. In a way that's kind of subjective. Personally I consider the Ace Attorney games to be visual novels, but many people make the case that they're actually adventure games. Neither side is wrong I feel, Ace Attorney has elements of both.

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Re: Do you think there is a market for non-anime visual novels?

#15 Post by Donmai » Sat Nov 07, 2020 2:41 pm

Donmai wrote:
Mon Nov 02, 2020 12:42 pm
No.
Be rest assured, I don't intend to change my vision for the sake of "fitting" into the genre. My concern is that the term "visual novel" sets up certain expectations for people. Maybe it's better not to use it in advertising.
My short answer, and your comment, walk together to the same point.
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