Behind the Scenes: Today’s VN Industry

Samu-kun Behind the Scenes

Ah, hello again, this is Samu-kun for another monthly blog post… Thanks to Anime Expo and Comic Con taking up so much of my time, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to write a post for this month. Luckily, I’m somehow a few hours ahead of schedule for making Sunrider Liberation Day, so I can spare some time before going back to work. Hah. Hah.

This month, Gamesutra published an article written by Mr. Riva, the head of Winter Wolves about VN development. You should check out the article here.  This article is actually a repost of what Mr. Riva wrote for an interview with another publication three years ago.

Ahem, I don’t mean to dig on Mr. Riva, who operates an obviously successful VN/game company. You can actually check out their Steam listing here and purchase any titles which interest you. What is important though is that the article reflects the VN industry as it was like in 2012, when it was actually written.

Much has occurred in the past of three years which shook the VN market considerably, and which will considerably change the market in the future… 2012 was a long time ago, before these changes, so the article doesn’t mention the latest developments.

So it’s basically no secret that visual novels are now a multi-million dollar industry outside of Japan now, with unprecedented revenue, mega Kickstarters, and Japanese companies rushing to land on our shores to tap into an enormous English consumer base. Ooo yes, it’s nice to be in such a hot industry eh…

In the current market, the best selling visual novels are inextricably anime games, and feature sex over any other feature. This will either be completely obvious to you, or fill you with shocked horror. But the the easiest way for a VN company to maintain reliable cash flow is to make a game with a lot of high quality anime sex. These games can achieve anything from a 10 to 100 times return on developmental costs. Just a single one of these games can essentially operate a VN company for a full year. What a bonanza industry…

These titles flush companies with money, which allows funding less profitable endeavors. In other words, they make developing higher quality products even feasible. Creating a real visual novel costs an enormous amount of money. You may be shocked when you see a Kickstarter make hundreds of thousands of dollars, but making a VN from scratch usually costs multiple times whatever any Kickstarter actually generates.

I am sure the expenses associated with English visual novels will sky rocket in the coming years, and may even surpass visual novels created in Japan.  Kickstarters which make over one hundred thousand dollars may become the norm, and not even those would be sufficient to develop an above market value VN. But a cash printer fan service game made on the cheap could pave the way to securing battle funds for ever greater works because they will make that Kickstarter look like pocket money. Or you can just make cheap fan service games forever, that’s definitely a lucrative option too.

Will the market just saturate with cheap fan service games, reducing the value of those games to VN companies? I don’t know… But throughout the history of mankind, sex has always sold so well…

VN development companies will likely boom and bust in the coming years… Eeek, I should have left out the “bust,” now I’ve made myself nervous… A-ahem, anyways, my point is that things are a bonanza industry and a lot of new companies are gonna form in the coming months to take advantage of the gold rush. Maybe you should quit your life, saddle up a VN company, and head into the great unknown too eh…

Well, I dunno what the point of talking too much about this though, because we’re all slaves to the free market after all! I missed a lot of stuff, but that should be enough for today… I’ll just ride on top of the sea of market trends on the raft I’ve fastened together and hope for the best tomorrow…