Annual Salary under 3M Yen?! The Truth Behind the Unstoppable Decay of the Bishoujo Game Industry

Originally published in Business Journal on 24 Feb 2013.

Little Busters. Total Eclipse. Love and Elections and Chocolate. Fate/Zero. These are the titles of some anime broadcast in 2012. Even if you’re not a fan of anime, you might have heard of them before.

These anime all have something in common: they were all based on bishoujo games. Bishoujo games refer to story-based PC games with moe characters. A major trait of bishoujo games is the existence of pornographic material within the story.

Anime based upon bishoujo games have increased since 2000. Some of the more famous adaptations include Kanon, Air, Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, School Days and ef. In particular, Kimi ga Nozomu Eien has had a wider impact upon popular culture: its plot, which has the protagonist being involved in an accident and losing his memories and subsequently getting himself embroiled in trouble between his former girlfriend and his current girlfriend, is so well-known that a Korean drama with a similar plot is accused of plagiarizing from Kimi ga Nozomu Eien. Urobochi Gen, the scriptwriter of the blockbuster anime Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, which won numerous cultural awards and is one of the biggest hits within the last 11 years, was once a bishoujo game writer. The studio he worked for, Nitro+, which also collaborated on Madoka, also produces bishoujo games.

In many senses, bishoujo games aren’t as foreign or strange as we may think. However, many games take place in schools, and characters are designed to look fairly young, which have set off allegations of child pornography  In addition, other titles feature intense sexual violence, which have led to accusations of these games inspiring sexual crimes against women. As an industry harshly criticized by mainstream society, companies working in the bishoujo game space keep a low profile, shrouded in mystery.

The history of bishoujo games can be traced back to the late 90s, when computers became popular in private homes. The market grew steadily during the first half of the 2000s, with yearly sales reaching almost 30 billion yen ($321M). However, since the apogee of bishoujo games in the early 2000s, the market has shrunk continually. Even though there are more than 600 titles released every year, the market was worth only 22 billion yen ($200M) last year.

In order to understand the status of bishoujo games today, we are interviewing Sakai “nbkz” Nobukazu, the lead producer of the company minori, which produced the famous series ef.

Q: So first question: How much does it cost to make a bishoujo game?

A: If we’re looking to maintain some semblance of quality, we’re talking about 30 million yen or so.

Here’s an example: let’s say we hire a scenario writer, a director, one artist and two assistant artists and give them a 250,000 JPY monthly salary. This is the smallest staff you could possibly have. These five people are going to have to do all kinds of other things that aren’t listed in their official job description. Let’s say you give these people one year to finish a full-price bishoujo game (selling at 8,800 JPY (~$95) per copy). So you’ve got around 15 million yen for salaries. Next, you’ll need to outsource voice acting, music, programming and background art, which will cost about 4 million yen. SG&A (Sales, General & Administrative) will run you another 1.5 million yen. Overhead and taxes will be around 3.6 million yen. So at this point, you’ve got 24.1 million yen in costs. If you add other variable costs related to production (printing, packaging) and employee benefits, you’ll need around 30 million yen ($312k).

In actuality, it’s really tough to finish a game in a year with five people. If you hire more staff or raise the production quality, some titles can run into hundreds of millions of yen in costs. For example, two games that we’ve made, Supipara and ef both went over 100 million yen in terms of production costs.

Q: 100 million yen?! Where does all that money go?

A: The largest cost is CG production. Unlike anime, CG consists of still frames, so each frame must be incredibly high-quality. It’s difficult to clean up lines, color in multiple gradients and add effects. It’s a labor and time-intensive process, and it’s impossible to do without many staff members. The more CGs there are in a game, the more expensive it’ll be to make. In addition, since players will be looking at background art a lot, quality control is paramount.

Resolutions on computer screens have been going up lately. This has had a negative impact on our costs. In the past, games were produced at 800×600, but now we’re talking 1920×1080. To put it simply, we have to color in 4.3 times the space. Not only does it take more time to produce each CG, but we must also become more and more careful with our quality control. We also have to consider the specifications of our customers’ computers. It’s unlikely that all of our customers have the newest, most high-end PCs, so it’s hard for us to think about what kinds of OSes and systems we should support. Unlike console games, PC games can’t assume uniform specifications across all machines.

Q: minori releases around a game a year. Is the company able to survive at this production pace?

A: If we can release one game a year, we’ll be fine. Actually, it’s really hard to create more than one full-price game every year using one set of production staff. I’m sure other companies will agree with me on this point. Since every work is an original production, we have to write the script, design characters, draw background art and consider the worldview of each game we make. All of this takes a huge amount of time. It’s difficult to do all of this in a year. There are companies that create more than one game a year, but they’ve got multiple production staffs. Selling 10,000 copies of one game is totally different from selling 10,000 copies of multiple games.

Q: Your new game, Natsuzora no Perseus (released at the end of 2012) had quite a few special goods that came with the deluxe edition (a vocal CD, BGM DVD, booklet). Which generates more profits, the deluxe edition or the regular edition of the game?

A: The more goods we create for the deluxe edition, the more production costs rise, naturally. If we’re only talking about costs, it’s far more profitable to sell many copies of the regular edition. Unfortunately, bishoujo games have a really short shelf life. Most of our profits are realized in the first three days of sale: Friday, Saturday and Sunday. After that, we don’t see many more sales being made. That’s why we throw so much money into creating first-press deluxe editions. Whether or not we can make a profit on a title depends on those three days.

Q: In 2011 and 2012, you participated in the BGM Festival (Note: A music festival hosted by bamboo, the president of OVERDRIVE, which showcases music from bishoujo games). This is a completely new kind of music festival, and even NHK took interest in it. What was this event’s impact on your sales?

A: To be honest, there was no appreciable affect. Since it was a music festival, there were more people there who were interested in the music rather than in our games. That was inevitable. The theme songs to bishoujo games are great advertising platforms, but it’s not as if people will buy the game for the song. However, just getting our name out there might be positive for brand recognition, so perhaps we’ll see some gains in the long run. I thought it was a good event to get our industry out of its current deadlock.

Q: Now that there are more bishoujo games being made into anime, have you thought of getting rid of adult content and porting your games to the PS3?

A: Personally, I don’t think it’s worth it. There are big differences between the PC and the PS2 or PS3. I think players need to play bishoujo games while sitting in their chairs, staring at a monitor. If we’re making games for the same platform, we force ourselves to constantly innovate, to create new scenarios and draw new CGs.

Also, ports sell pretty badly. If you can sell 50% of your original revenue in a port, that’s a huge victory. Since you’ve already got most of the original data, production costs are lower, so that’s a huge benefit. Let’s say the original game cost 500 million yen to produce. The port will only cost 100 million yen. So, I suppose one could turn a profit even if a port doesn’t sell that well.

A sad situation: most employees make less than 3 million yen a year

Q: Since the advent of personal computing and the Internet in the late 90s, bishoujo games have been adapted into anime and become a familiar force in our lives. What does the actual market itself look like?

A: Sales are decreasing every year, and the market itself is shrinking. There’s around 200 companies, big and small, producing bishoujo games today, but this number is also shrinking. You spoke of the advent of personal computing. In 2000, during the industry’s best times, a game that sold 100,000 copies was considered a blockbuster. 30,000 copies sold meant a big hit, and games that sold 20,000 copies was a success. Now, if you can sell 10,000 copies, you’ve got a hit on your hands. That’s the state of the industry. 10,000 copies is about .01% of the adult population of Japan. Most games go unplayed and unheard of. I’m not sure how these numbers compare to viewership trends for anime in the same time period.

Q: Why do you think the market is shrinking?

A: It’s probably because media is becoming more and more diversified. We’ve got Youtube, Nico Nico Douga and all kinds of social media games these days. In addition, we’ve also go tthe PS3, the PSP, the 3DS and all other kinds of gaming platforms. Stand-alone single-player games are becoming less and less popular. There are plenty of games that people play online with other people, but bishoujo games are, for the most part, single player.

I also think that consumers demand expediency. Think about anime. There were plenty of 4 cour anime in the past, but now, most anime are one cour. Most one-cour anime feature around five hours of actual content. Compared to that, most bishoujo games are long. One title contains around 1 MB to 2 MBs of text, which translates to around 18-20 hours of playtime. If one skips the voices and simply reads, maybe one can shrink the reading time to half of that. In a society that seeks expediency and instant gratification, bishoujo games go against the times. It’s also harder for people to talk about long works. That’s why you see more people critiquing anime and movies, and not so many people critiquing video games.

Let’s say we try to create games that are shorter and cheaper. That’s also not an option for us. Making short, cheap titles creates a lot of stress for our staff. In order to get around this problem, manga and light novels have adopted the strategy of releasing works in serial format, as tankobon. While this would decrease our costs, there’s no way we can adopt this model of production.

Q: In recent years, Akihabara’s experienced a boom of activity. Otaku culture is becoming more and more mainstream. Has the bishoujo game industry seen any increase in activity because of that?

A: Nope. We were hoping for such a boom, but the demographic is completely different. Voice actresses have become idols, more anime are being created and light novels are selling. This is all true. But, otaku are becoming younger and younger. These younger otaku buy goods that are less than 1000 yen. They’ll buy manga and light novels, and if something they like gets animated, they’ll watch it for free on the TV or on the Internet. In comparison, bishoujo games are usually 8,800 yen, and we see games that are 9,800 yen these days as well. A first-press deluxe edition might be more than 10,000 yen. There’s no way younger people will ever buy them. These people are not our target demographic. They might be interested in bishoujo games, but they won’t buy them, which is what we care about.

Q: It’s been pretty bleak talk up to here. How much do people make in the industry on average?

A: On average, I’m thinking about 3 million yen($32k) a year. It’s rare to find people who make 4 million yen. 3 million yen means a monthly salary of 250,000 JPY (~$2,700) without bonuses. Only companies with good sales numbers can afford to pay their workers that much. Of course, if someone makes a blockbuster, everyone on the staff will get more money. If you’re a famous artist, you’ll have other sources of income, too.

In any case, this is an industry without much profit. It’s natural that our salaries are so low. If we produce a game for 300 million yen, we can wholesale them to stores at half price. That means we’ll break even if we sell around 6,819 copies of a full-price (8,800 JPY) game. However, we’re seeing sales numbers below 5,000 for most games. We can try to make up for unsold inventory by producing goods, but for a game that’s sold only a few thousand copies, goods can only make up a small fraction of the shortfall.

Since we’re in this situation, there are plenty of companies that go under. Even if you create a hit, every year for 10 years, you’ll still be in the red and eventually go under. We were seriously considering disbanding after Supipara.

Q: Did Supipara not sell well? It may have been all-ages, but I thought it was a pretty solid game that really reflected minori’s unique qualities…

A: We only sold half of what we had hoped for. Unfortunately, our gamble didn’t pay off. We tried to expand into a new market, but it’s a huge risk for us to take on since our bottom line is already so poor. Obviously there are risks involved when trying something new, but since Supipara, we’ve learned the importance of going back to basics. That’s why we made Natsuzora no Pegasus. We’ve seen a bit of a rally since then, but the fact that one game can make or break your company is the real problem. (Wry laughter.)

The Retreat into a Niche Market

Q: So you’ve said that the market is shrinking and businesses are going under. Where does the industry go from there?

A: I don’t think it’s just us that are going under, but all media-related businesses. The idea of a “professional” is being blurred. Look at Nico Nico Douga. I feel like that’s we’re all headed. In other words, commercial works are expensive, but amateurs can produce works almost as good as pros and people can enjoy them for virtually nothing. In actuality, the quality of production between commercial works and amateur works is shrinking as the world becomes more and more digitized.

There was a time when people thought that piracy was the real problem. I don’t think so. Freeloaders will freeload anywhere. If they can’t get something for free, they’ll look for something else. People who won’t pay won’t pay.

Q: Do you have any countermeasures against this situation?

A: We’ve got a customer base. They’re fans who are truly interested in our work. These are the people we want to target. I hate to say it, but the kind of people who buy multiple copies of the same game are the kind of people we’re looking at. The bishoujo market has been a niche market for a long time now, but this retreat is only accelerating. Look at what’s happened to the music industry, serving only a small portion of the privileged classes. Bishoujo games will face a similar fate. We’ll exist solely to supply entertainment for a very small slice of people. That’s why I think we should stop listening to public opinion at large and only listen to those who actually want to buy our games.

Shops that sell bishoujo games are dying out rapidly. In most smaller cities, these stores are completely gone. We should have been thinking about this problem, as an industry, since long ago. In order to survive our current crisis, I think we have to shift to almost a “patronage” model of business.

Q: So, where will minori go from here?

A: As the company’s president, I’ve been thinking about where we go from here. Do we have a future? Is there any point in continuing to do business? I’m scrutinizing this problem.  I want to make something new, but should we go forwards with the condition that we’ll exit the industry if we don’t sell well? Should we try something completely new? Should we slash costs and create something on a lower budget? These are the kinds of scenarios facing us right now. Of course, as a game creator, I’ve got different views on this subject, but that’s for another interview.

To be honest, I’m always ready to step down from my CEO position. I mean, we’re not making any money. Laughs.

30 responses to “Annual Salary under 3M Yen?! The Truth Behind the Unstoppable Decay of the Bishoujo Game Industry

  1. It’s a very interesting article, in light of the Video I was watching today regarding non-combat Video Games.

    IMO, the Bishoujo Genre is unfortunately probably one of the very few genres where combat is not used to generate a meaningful conflict. Alas, it is a niche – I suspect a Dark Age of VNs will soon come, until technology brings down the cost of CGs even further, and then we’d see a slow rebirth, starting with Amateur stuff, and fringe experimental studios.

    Until the price of doing each CG is only a few times above that of doing a single Manga Panel though (if that is even possible, to begin with), I wonder whether this Industry will remain viable.

    • For some reason the non-combat gaming article reminded me of Princess Maker which is neither a VN/eroge/datingsim/etc and definitely not combat correlated (though a common pathing to take is to increase strength/combat in the game) XD Except Princess Maker is pretty old by now, with 5 I think being the last iteration back in 2007. Then again that series never saw the light of day outside of Asia, ever.

      Although it is indeed interesting but true that the PC screen resolution increases do cause problems. Normally a VN has technically low requirements to run (at least versus many modern graphic intensive games, this would always be true), so in the past it had the advantage of well, effectively utilizing what was available say, prior to year 2000 when computer electronics were booming, but nowhere near the technology today. Of course for the end user you use the best resolution for your monitor, but if the monitor is bigger and stronger, then using 800 x 600 resolution is highly unlikely.

      Whereas nowadays, I know people who get brand new computers built and simply want a game that can like, max out the specs. A VN would never come close to that, and would not fully utilize the new computer. This is actually relevant since if you do have a high powered computer, you do want to utilize a program/game that the high powered computer would flourish under.

      And then yes, the mobile analogy. VNs do fit nicely, but then there is that contrast in price. Not only that but the industry would have to like research to see if their demographic has mobile devices. Access to a PC is likely, but both PC and a mobile will be less likely.

      Also as the article stated, several of the games can go completely unnoticed. On an anime analogy, notice how the four series, while all having similarities, are about as different as you can get among each other. One has a prequel effect, one has a continuation/alternate effect, one’s a recent series, and one I’m not going to talk about.

      In other words, while these aren’t necessarily the best VNs available to be animated for 2012, they were certainly among the most plausible to animate (meaning if there were worse VNs, those were already weeded out). Normally VNs suffered from things like being the same old (high school, plethora of stereotypes, etc), except as far as anime goes, actually very few VNs have been animated recently. (I personally think the Light Novel surge impacted this.)

      I’m not that surprised that the Supipara gamble didn’t pay off, but it’s also unfortunate because the new territory potential didn’t work out at all, meaning the same old stuff still worked better.

      Personally on the mobile notation, while reading on an iPad seems fine, I found it horrid to read on an iPhone given the phone’s vastly smaller size. Reading on PC is preferred.

  2. 100 million yen seems really extreme for something that doesn’t even approach the complexity of a game like Mass Effect 2, but if 2D art costs that much to produce, it’s no wonder why western 2D animation is drying up.

    • 100 million yen doesn’t even approach the budget of a game like Mass Effect 2. Still, I’m legitimately surprised that costs are that high. How can an amateur produce a similar quality product for a fraction of the cost anyway? I feel that the budget has to be grossly inflated somewhere.

      • I’ve always felt that minori spent waaaay too much on CGs for ef. Almost every single scene, no matter how trivial, is accompanied by a highly polished CG. (Example: Contrast, for example, amateur work Umineko no Naku Koro ni, which uses altered photographs (taken by the author) for backgrounds, has no CGs, and has simple sprites (drawn by the author). (Example:

        Though it obviously isn’t any indication of Japanese popularity, on VNDB Umineko is both rated higher and more popular (higher average vote, more votes). Though its graphics are miles away from commercial standards, the great writing, interesting story and amazing soundtrack made Umineko a success despite its low budget. It’s like comparing triple A games to indie games; one caters (and is expected to cater) to the demands of customers, while the other can just rely on its other strengths and isn’t judged for lack of spectacular graphics or anything like that.

        That said, amateur works can sometimes also compete on even ground on some points due to professionals working as amateurs (i.e. not expecting the kind of pay they’d get for commercial titles). Examples are Peco doing the art for the Sono Hanabira series and Nekonekosoft’s Tomo Kataoka doing the writing for Narcissu. If you look at nbkz’s 30 million estimate, the costs are divided like this:
        15 million: Wages
        4 million: Outsourcing (also wages)
        1.5 million: Administrative costs
        3.6 million: Overhead and taxes
        Rest: Physical production costs + extra costs
        ~70% is wages (including the employee benefits). Amateur work cuts most of that away. Then there’s 5 million for administrative and overhead costs and taxes, which don’t or practically don’t apply to amateur work. It’s not at all impossible for amateur works to do the exact same work at a fraction of the cost.

  3. He said that there’s “no way” they can adopt a serial format, but I don’t really buy it. In the west, the video game The Walking Dead was immensely popular. Five episodes spread out over 10 months that managed to both sell well and be critically acclaimed. I could see this working fairly well with at least some VNs.

    • I think it could be successful. They create a content streaming client and supply episodic CG/text/voice/music packs. But this also means content is going to chance inevitably, so the established customer base may not like it.

      I thought it was kind of funny how nbkz said young otaku are not buying their games. Of course they aren’t, they’re under age! Or wait, was he implying they secretly target underage people as well?

      • A large part of VNs have a lower age limit due to not containing sex scenes.

        An episodic model is something that’s definitely worth experimenting with (the issue being that you can’t experiment if every game has to be successful or you go under) – it could help by getting those young otaku in the price range (like selling part 1 at 980 yen to hook them and then the others for more). They seem really averse to anything that might get them disliked by their current fans though, for good reason.

      • I think he might have been referring to “younger” being 18-22 or typical college age people. This age group tends to not have much disposable income. Of COURSE people under 18 would NEVER DREAM of purchasing or playing an R-18 game (*cough*cough*sputter*sorry…)

  4. Wonder how viable a move to mobile platforms would be. That should take care of the growing resolution costs and route around the disappearance of physical specialty stores.

    I know some of the big game companies have experimented with mobile ports, but I’ve no idea how well they’ve sold or how well they were ported. Still, that could be an option for introducing an episodic model and bringing in the younger demographic at new price points.

    • Got a tablet yesterday. About the first thing I’ll do with it is get Clannad working – with their focus on plot, not combat, coupled with low requirements, I’ll go out and say there’s no genre better suited to mobile than the VN.

    • The big issue with mobile is people always expect everything to be $.99 not $9.99 and definitely not $99.99. Even for tablets.

      I did play Juniper’s Knot on the iPad and iPhone and it was great on a touch screen. I am definitely buying Dischan’s next VN, Cradle Song, when it comes out and will be hard pressed to decide on mobile or desktop.

      There are also issues releasing on Android.
      1. Too many screen ratios and varying screen resolutions mean it may look nice on one tablet but complete crap on another.
      2. Piracy is so bad on the platform it could scare off the big players like Midori, while he may not be worried about it (as stated in the article) a company like Key or Nitro+ might be.

      That said; it could be a move that saves the industry in Japan where they are more likely to spend $20+ than Americans on a mobile app.

  5. It took a while for Minori to reach a licensing deal, but the first part of their visual novel Ef – A Fairy Tale of the Two- is currently being sold in English through Mangagamer, and the second part is going through beta. It was discouraging to hear that the first part of Ef did not sell well by Mangagamer’s standards, but hopefully things will turn around, and hopefully a DRM-free physical copy will be made.

    There were worksafe visual novels as far back as 1983, such as The Portopia Serial Murder Case, and Japanese companies still make worksafe VNs today, including but not limited to Virtue’s Last Reward, and the Starry Sky franchise. That said, I get the impression that indie creators are usually the innovators. The Higurashi franchise began as a series of related short independent games / stories, and the creator is still making interesting products such as Rose Guns Days. The Sono Hanabira franchise began as a series of slightly related short VNs, and the creator is moving on to different projects. Hatoful Boyfriend became an internet sensation for its silly premise, but got respect due to an excellent translation and surprisingly genuine writing.

    I’m not entirely sure what platforms are most beneficial for Japanese creators. Indie game makers and NSFW game creators use Windows, but commercial game designers can’t keep using the PSP over and over. Browser games, 3DS, Vita, Android, and iOS all have their drawbacks. What other current platforms are available?

    One last thought. The English speaking visual novel scene is still small, but it’s growing. If you want to get involved, try free programs such as Ren’py, or the Novelty visual novel maker. Get involved with communities such as the /visualnovels/ sub-Reddit, or the Lemma Soft forums.

    • I was involved in the English speaking visual novel scene long before its current iteration. After all, I’m the one who translated a large part of ef before I signed away the rights to my work (which, admittedly, I never held in the first place) to minori and MangaGamer.

      • You did. Your translation is your copyright regardless of whether you can legally distribute it or not. Just because it is illegal for you to distribute your translation of their work does not make it legal for them to distribute your translation – they would be violating your copyright in the same way you were violating their copyright.

      • You did a bang up job. Eh, I’m part of the English speaking visual novel “scene”, but I’m under 18. Piracy really is a problem, because most Americans just… Well, they just don’t care about how a company is performing or not. As long as the thing in front of them works, they’ll never pay money for anything (unless they don’t realize that piracy was possible).

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  7. Thanks for translating the full article/interview.

    I do tend to agree with the point about the desire (in the slightly-wider market) for immediacy and low cost of entry, given the competition with a plethora of other media, including anime, light novels, and mobile gaming. Most people aren’t going to risk 8,800+ yen to pre-order a game that may very well disappoint them, unless they’re collectors. Hence, the appeal of the LE with pre-order bonuses to a small, but rather-dedicated market. And of course, this also creates a secondary effect of people who buy just for the bonus goods, and then turn around and resell the game itself in the used market, which accounts for the general lack of traction after the opening weekend. People who “just want to play the game” are probably not going to buy it new, assuming they buy it at all.

    It’s interesting that he doesn’t see the possibility in serialized work, which is something that the Visual Art’s CEO has been musing about in his AkibaBlog pieces (but perhaps they have a bit more background in this with their Kinetic novels). Then again, you could pretty much argue that Light Novels are pretty close to serialized bishoujo games already in terms of content and style, given the involvement of many of the same illustrators and even writers. I am really curious about how things will shake-out over the next five-to-ten years.

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  9. Two big things really stick out to me.

    1. Get new blood in the industry or something, even better if they’re not an otaku. If you’re just fighting over an ever-shrinking market, then you need to stop looking at the “red ocean” and start thinking about the “blue ocean”. Disruption is key – target an audience that hasn’t been targeted before, which leads to…

    2. Stop marketing these as “plot-heavy, gameplay-lacking games” and start marketing them as “media-rich ebooks with minor plot interaction”. This fits perfectly with the mobile marketplace and is infact exactly what Chunsoft is doing. This also means more focus on the story and content and less on the “moe”. Moe can be nice, but without the actual story and content to back it up, it feels exactly like how they describe them, a “bishoujo game” and not a “visual novel” or “sound novel”. This also means voice acting is NOT a crucial p

    3. Reduce costs with vector-based or even polygon-based art assets! This one is driving me crazy since it seems so obvious to me If it’s taking tons of resources to make content for higher resolutions and you have to even consider a specific resolution for the result, then you’re doing it wrong. There are 3 ways to go about this.

    -Create the originals as vectors and export to a high resolution image. This is the least flexible and the least cost-reducing, but gives a more traditional workflow and experience.

    -Render the actual vectors in real-time via Direct2D or similar. This would allow a multitude of resolutions to be used without a reduction of quality, but at least with Direct2D requires newer-ish GPU hardware.

    -Render using actual 3D polygons for the environment and characters, and use various graphical effects to make it look like typical VN art (assuming you want that type of look). This requires the most work up-front but pays off with massively re-usable art assets, and the final product can be rendered at any available resolution. If you’re attempting to re-create the typical VN look but with polygons, then GPU performance isn’t an issue, even at 1fps. The easiest way to go about it is to use the GPU purely for rendering the character, environment, and the multitude of graphical effects to make it look like a 2D VN and not CGI (effects would include polygon flattening, anti-aliasing, a gentle cel-shading, a bit of HDR, etc). Because VN scenes are usually static, you could even run at 1fps and still be fine, so you can crank up the polygon counts, graphical effects, and texture resolution. In fact scene that do have any movement may even look better artistically at 1fps combined with a CPU-based blur filter between frames (similar to character-sprite transitions in current VNs). In general, anything that needs to be responsive such as UI elements and scene transitions would be done on the CPU so that it’s performance in independent of the GPU.

    • Ah, somebody who knows the red and blue ocean strategy. Still blue oceans are hard to find, as many try to expand their market elsewhere. For a company to be really succesfull in a blue ocean they have to position themselves different from competitors. This concept is mostly fitting for new products or developing markets where there are less companies active.
      It is a tricky product to sell. As the article stated, you have mature content. Meaning the product is not easily labelled with a particular USP, apart from the 18+ content.
      You cannot easily put product placement in the game to get some money back. Maybe for all ages versions of the game.
      Maybe another way to make it more interesting, is to make the game more interactive by combining smartphone technology with the existing software to enhance the experience. It is also a way to make the game run for a longer period.
      Also for this kind of product it is difficult to make a long tail production line where you produce multiple smaller games to get the same profit with one good selling game.
      A very tricky market to keep profitable. Perhaps those companies should do other activities as well within the existing market, the otaku market.

    • “For a full translation of the detailed, behind the scenes look at the industry, read this translation.”
      And it links to this post ._. [insert Sherlock]

  10. Oh gosh thanks for translating this! This post is so glorious XD I’ve used this as a reference so many times, so I came to thank you finally haha

  11. Pingback: New VN localization company: MoeNovel - Page 31·

  12. Pingback: Piracy in the Visual Novel Community, Part 1: Information | Otome Jikan·

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