Why don’t Japan release certain games outside of their country?

Japan didn’t release Digimon Story: Evolution, Draglade 2, Super Bonk 2, Dragon Quest Monsters 1&2 Remakes for GBA, and for the Nintendo 3DS, Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 3, Luminous Arc 3, Naruto Shippuden: Ninja Destiny 3, Soma Bringer, Dragon Quest X, Dragon Quest I-III Remakes for the Nintendo 3DS, etc.
It seems that Japan doesn’t like to release video game sequels, and certain games outside of Japan.
 
Like it or not, 99% of games exist first and foremost to make money. Any enjoyment from them is entirely secondary. If a game is predicted to not make much money—from the previous game in the series selling very few copies, from reviewing poorly in Japan, from being released years after the next generation console, or whatever reason management comes up with—it won't get released.

It doesn't mean the games are bad or that Japan wants to horde all the good games to themselves. It's just an unfortunate consequence of money making the world go 'round. The same system that can encourage developers to create the best games possible also encourages publishers to drop poor performers like a hot potato.

...slightly off-topic, there were never any remakes of Dragon Quest Monsters for GBA. You may be thinking of Dragon Quest Monsters: Caravan Heart, which has a fan translation available. Or, you might be thinking of the 3DS remakes of DQM1/2, of which the first has had a fan translation for a while and the 2nd just released. Or the PS1 remake, DQM1+2 which... is notorious for having so many dropped fan translation projects.
 

FrostyCat

Member
It seems that Japan doesn’t like to release video game sequels, and certain games outside of Japan.
It seems that you don't have any clue how much effort goes into localizing a Japanese game for foreign audiences.

Hint: It's WAY more complicated than just putting the text through Google Translate.

Edit: I have reworded the statement to point specifically at the original poster, which was my intended target. Sorry.
 
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Samuel Venable

Time Killer
It seems that most non-Asians outside of Japan have no clue how much effort goes into localizing a Japanese game for foreign audiences.

Hint: It's WAY more complicated than just putting the text through Google Translate.
I got banned from a discord for making a generalization like this and was accused of being racist. I just want to warn you, people get butthurt for dumb reasons and will inflict their strange idea of pain on you.

<runs away>
 
Yeah, localization is just too much of a pain to be worth it for games if they don't think they have a good chance of recouping their costs.
 
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Posh Indie

That Guy
Edit: I have reworded the statement to point specifically at the original poster, which was my intended target. Sorry.
The fact that you had to do that exposes how sensitive our world has become... No apology needed for me (Even for the original text) as I was not offended by it, nor do I think it warrants any offense...

In any case, it should have been fine considering the final statement of the original post implies that the entirety of Japan is intentionally withholding games from the rest of the world (Which, when I picture it in my head, is hilarious no matter who is being assumed to do such a thing. Imagine a room full of Game Development Suits discussing how they will not release their games to the rest of the world... just "because".)

Monster Hunter went on a Western World hiatus for a bit (Unfortunately), but not because they did not want us to enjoy it. We did not vote well enough with our wallets over here to make it seem like a worthwhile investment. Interest is a huge driving factor, and if the interest does not seem to be there, why go through all the trouble of localization?
 
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BiTrunade

Member
It seems that you don't have any clue how much effort goes into localizing a Japanese game for foreign audiences.

Hint: It's WAY more complicated than just putting the text through Google Translate.

Edit: I have reworded the statement to point specifically at the original poster, which was my intended target. Sorry.
I agree. And I believe a language is better left untouched rather than spending a huge amount of money on wrong localization.

As a person who speaks and writes Arabic, I've seen many unforgivable mistakes when localizing games into Arabic. Wrong direction of text (left to right, instead of right to left), unconnected letters, left-to-right arrangement of letters (also unconnected), and many many grammatical errors that make the text simply incomprehensible.

For example, they literally wrote "Infinity Ward" using Arabic characters "انفينيتي ورد" which is pronounced "Infinity Ward."

1623926079945.png

There are also some translations that do not make any sense when translated into Arabic. Since you have to modify the entire text to convey the meaning rather than translating the text word by word.

1623926189425.png

Rami Ismail is a big advocate for this, and I believe there is a very good YouTube video on Arabic localization if you look it up.


والله لو يعيفون اللعبة على حطتها ولا يترجموها عربي من دون فهم احسن الهم, هم حريمة فلوس وهم فشلة
 
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Yal

🐧 *penguin noises*
GMC Elder
Japan didn’t release Digimon Story: Evolution, Draglade 2, Super Bonk 2, Dragon Quest Monsters 1&2 Remakes for GBA, and for the Nintendo 3DS, Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 3, Luminous Arc 3, Naruto Shippuden: Ninja Destiny 3, Soma Bringer, Dragon Quest X, Dragon Quest I-III Remakes for the Nintendo 3DS, etc.
It seems that Japan doesn’t like to release video game sequels, and certain games outside of Japan.
All of the games you listed are RPGs, and they're the most difficult to translate due to having more text... while simultaneously being one of the more niche markets (compared to e.g. FPSes). So it's a lot of effort, and not likely to repay localization costs.

Translations also are hard: expressions might not have direct counterparts ("When you talk about the trolls, they're standing in the antechamber" is a swedish expression that makes no sense when transliterated, but "speak of the devil" is a close approximation), certain languages have metadata about the type of person speaking that will not carry over (muddying meaning) or is missing in the source text. For instance gendered constructs are missing when translating from english to japanese (so you can end up with a gruff gangster sounding like a grandma), and the politeness level is not carried over when translating to english from japanese (so you lose the nuance when someone switches over from regular tone of voice to being incredible rude).
 
Monster Hunter went on a Western World hiatus for a bit (Unfortunately), but not because they did not want us to enjoy it. We did not vote well enough with our wallets over here to make it seem like a worthwhile investment. Interest is a huge driving factor, and if the interest does not seem to be there, why go through all the trouble of localization?
I want to talk about this (incorrect) conclusion specifically, because it highlights just how much decision-making goes into picking games for localization.

MHP3rd, P3rdHD, and MH4 were the only mainline games passed on for a western release.

- A slight tangent for context: MHTri sold absolute gangbusters, even outside Japan. According to sales figures, it seems it sold EVEN MORE outside Japan than it did inside. Over 1m western sales on the Wii. Insane numbers for a 3rd party Wii game.

- P3rd came out in Japan towards the end of the PSP's life cycle. If it would've released in the west, it probably would have come out during 2011 or 2012, when the PSP's death was visible over the horizon. Also, by 2010, PSP piracy was rampant and incredibly easy to access--you could literally use an off-the shelf console to pirate games with. Capcom could easily have come to the conclusion that piracy would impact sales to the point where it wouldn't be worth the cost.

- You can blame Sony directly for P3rdHD. That game didn't support trophies. At the time, Sony US required EVERY SINGLE game to have trophies. Add to that the fact that the game wasn't yet localized, and you can almost physically smell the sunk cost.

- No idea why MH3U left Japan so late. It sure as heck isn't because MHTri sold poorly.

- MH4 came out very soon after the western release of MH3U. Capcom US had info about MH4G long before its announcement, and it's very likely they made the decision to skip it and release the expanded version to give 3U time to breathe, save on localization costs by doing it all at once, and help out Nintendo by being the killer app for their New Nintendo 3DS on its launch.
 
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Posh Indie

That Guy
I want to talk about this (incorrect) conclusion specifically, because it highlights just how much decision-making goes into picking games for localization.

MHP3rd, P3rdHD, and MH4 were the only mainline games passed on for a western release.

- A slight tangent for context: MHTri sold absolute gangbusters, even outside Japan. According to sales figures, it seems it sold EVEN MORE outside Japan than it did inside. Over 1m western sales on the Wii. Insane numbers for a 3rd party Wii game.

- P3rd came out in Japan towards the end of the PSP's life cycle. If it would've released in the west, it probably would have come out during 2011 or 2012, when the PSP's death was visible over the horizon. Also, by 2010, PSP piracy was rampant and incredibly easy to access--you could literally use an off-the shelf console to pirate games with. Capcom could easily have come to the conclusion that piracy would impact sales to the point where it wouldn't be worth the cost.

- You can blame Sony directly for P3rdHD. That game didn't support trophies. At the time, Sony US required EVERY SINGLE game to have trophies. Add to that the fact that the game wasn't yet localized, and you can almost physically smell the sunk cost.

- No idea why MH3U left Japan so late. It sure as heck isn't because MHTri sold poorly.

- MH4 came out very soon after the western release of MH3U. Capcom US had info about MH4G long before its announcement, and it's very likely they made the decision to skip it and release the expanded version to give 3U time to breathe, save on localization costs by doing it all at once, and help out Nintendo by being the killer app for their New Nintendo 3DS on its launch.
-Monster Hunter G
-Monster Hunter 2 (Specifically due to poor sales of the previous games in the West)
-Monster Hunter: Frontier Online
-Monster Hunter Online

"For a bit", not "Forever".

Fun Fact: I actually liked the underwater fighting in Tri and wish they would bring it back, even if in a new form.
 
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-Monster Hunter G
-Monster Hunter 2 (Specifically due to poor sales of the previous games in the West)
-Monster Hunter: Frontier Online
-Monster Hunter Online

"For a bit", not "Forever".

Fun Fact: I actually liked the underwater fighting in Tri and wish they would bring it back, even if in a new form.
"Mainline games" excludes Frontier and Online, as well as the zillion Japan-locked Felyne and mobile spinoffs. The only game out in the west before Dos came out in Japan was MH1, which sold poorly for numerous reasons, one of which being how terribly it reviewed because the controls were godawful. Not to mention 1, G, and Dos all relied heavily on the relatively expensive and hard-wired PS2 network adapter. G and Dos, would they have come out in the west, could have dealt even more damage to the franchise than by not being released. Also note that the series was incredibly niche even in Japan at that point. Waiting for the (vastly superior gameplay-wise) PSP titles to try localizing again gave the series the best possible chance to succeed as it should have. The series only really caught its legs on that console, both in the west and Japan.

It's never anywhere near as simple as "region doesn't give money, we don't give game."
 
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Posh Indie

That Guy
"Mainline games" excludes Frontier and Online, as well as the zillion Japan-locked Felyne and mobile spinoffs. The only game out in the west before Dos came out in Japan was MH1, which sold poorly for numerous reasons, one of which being how terribly it reviewed because the controls were godawful. Not to mention 1, G, and Dos all relied heavily on the relatively expensive and hard-wired PS2 network adapter. G and Dos, would they have come out in the west, could have dealt even more damage to the franchise than by not being released. Also note that the series was incredibly niche even in Japan at that point. Waiting for the (vastly superior gameplay-wise) PSP titles to try localizing again gave the series the best possible chance to succeed as it should have. The series only really caught its legs on that console, both in the west and Japan.

It's never anywhere near as simple as "region doesn't give money, we don't give game."
MH1 and MHG are "mainline games", failed in the West, did well in the East, and caused MH2 to be an Eastern-only release. That is all I need to justify "For a bit". Niche in Japan or not, it still survived the market in the East. It did not in the West.

SOCOM: U.S. Navy Seals did really well in the West and utilized an "expensive network adapter". People just did not support Monster Hunter so much at that time.

"Region doesn't give money, we don't give game" is actually real, haha. Not only is that the actual reason MH2 stayed in the East, but nobody would spend more time and money to release to a market that they know is dead to them. It just makes no sense. That actually is pretty simple.

Anyway, this has gone on long enough. Agree to disagree or whatever.
 
Please read more carefully before making a snarky post. I was specifically talking about MH1 and MHG. As a comparison, MH1 and MHG's global sales were worse than Capcom's notoriously poor-selling Okami with a similar budget. The series didn't start selling well until Freedom, which is exactly when it started selling well in the West as well.
 

Posh Indie

That Guy
Please read more carefully before making a snarky post. I was specifically talking about MH1 and MHG. As a comparison, MH1 and MHG's global sales were worse than Capcom's notoriously poor-selling Okami with a similar budget. The series didn't start selling well until Freedom, which is exactly when it started selling well in the West as well.
 
Cut the childish Twitter "GOTTEEM" antics and make the point you want with words.

You're implying I'm saying the same thing you are, "MHG/Dos didn't come out in the west solely because it didn't sell well in the west" all while ignoring my point completely: It wasn't that simple. Yes, it didn't sell well in the west (didn't in Japan either), but that was only one factor of many. Most choices not to localize games are similarly complex and reducing them down to "didn't sell well" leaves out a ton of context--context that is vital to the conversation of "why are games not localized?"

EDIT: Perhaps "incorrect" was too strong a word. I should have said "incomplete assumption."
 
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Posh Indie

That Guy
Cut the childish Twitter "GOTTEEM" antics and make the point you want with words.

You're implying I'm saying the same thing you are, "MHG/Dos didn't come out in the west solely because it didn't sell well in the west" all while ignoring my point completely: It wasn't that simple. Yes, it didn't sell well in the west (didn't in Japan either), but that was only one factor of many. Most choices not to localize games are similarly complex and reducing them down to "didn't sell well" leaves out a ton of context--context that is vital to the conversation of "why are games not localized?"

EDIT: Perhaps "incorrect" was too strong a word. I should have said "incomplete assunption."
Sold well enough in the East to continue getting releases. Tell me how that worked out in the West. You are battling yourself (And getting ridiculously bent out of shape because you still haven't caught the hint that my argument is not what you are trying to prove me wrong on).

The fact that you are even taking the images above personally says you are beyond reasoning with. You said it did not do well in the East, but it didn't fail in the East because of PSP... that is a competing claim considering the context of the initial claim (Which you seem to have forgotten somewhere along the line), hence the "confused image" (That apparently offended and triggered you). Ignore the fact that I am not making claims of "success or failure" (Which is the angle you are obviously coming from).

You are reaching to try to "Win" an argument that is completely tangential to the original claim, hence "Spiderman reaching" (I promise, I would have picked another if I found a decent one. I apologize that Spiderman angers you so much).

I am laughing at your responses (Oh boohoo... they are hilarious because this is a pointless conversation that you are WAY to invested in.) I could have been a jerk, thrown a tantrum, and given them a thumbs down. I swear, I was not taking this as personally as you obviously are.

The fact that you are this personally (emotionally?) attached to Monster Hunter is concerning. It took a hiatus. That was Monster Hunter 2 (Since your definition of "mainstream" conveniently ignores anything else that would take away your psychotic foothold). That is ALL I was claiming. Anything beyond that and you are trolling yourself here.

@Nocturne or @TsukaYuriko, can we get this thread locked? I think @nacho_chicken needs to take a nap.
 
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TsukaYuriko

☄️
Forum Staff
Moderator
I also disagree about locking the topic. I want to believe that the members of this community are mature enough to not derail discussions with belittlement until the point where the only choice left is locking them... or am I wrong? ;)

Keep further posts on topic, please.
 

Yal

🐧 *penguin noises*
GMC Elder
Skimming through this topic be like
Smiley Cogv This Is Fine small.png
Also PSA, it's really easy to add annoying people to the block list so you don't need to bother with them. If someone is fighting for attention, the best karmic punishment is making them vanish from the surface of the planet as far as you're concerned.

Back on topic, translating is costly and difficult (e.g. requires you to throw money at it) so companies are only gonna do it if they expect a return on investment. Sequels are expected to do about as well financially as the previous game in the series, so if that didn't sell, there's little reason to expect another release.

Also protip: videogames are cheaper in Japan due to regional pricing differences, high availability of consumer electronics, and a general expectancy that people play more games and burn through them more quickly rather than sticking with one for thousands of hours. Just learn fluid japanese and move to Japan, problem solved ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 
Also PSA, it's really easy to add annoying people to the block list so you don't need to bother with them. If someone is fighting for attention, the best karmic punishment is making them vanish from the surface of the planet as far as you're concerned.
In most cases, I find that's far too extreme a move. The GMC's a small, close-knit community. Almost always willing to discuss things civilly; even if we may have shared a heated conversation or two in the past. Blocking any one of the handful of regulars on a site primarily for technical help and dev discussion is a self-own as far as I'm concerned.



One trend that's becoming increasingly common lately is companies going to the groups who released fan translations to do an official release by either licensing their translations or using them as a base. It's especially common with Visual Novels, as almost all the big VNs I can think of have done this: Umineko, Muv-Luv, Steins;Gate, Baldr Sky, Dies Irae, Song of Saya, etc. Definitely not exclusive to VNs, though. RPGs like Ys: Oath in Felghana and the recently-announced Trails from Zero/Trails to Azure, Action/Adventure games like Cave Story and La-Mulana, and just about a billion weird Japanese indie games. I really hope it catches on even more in the future. It certainly adds a bit more weight to the choice to localize a game when you can choose [immediately available complete translation of proven quality] instead of [translation of untested quality that might arrive late].

Another thing that I wish more games would support are features like text modding tools and Steam Workshop support. It definitely has its flaws, but I'd imagine especially for a lot of teams—especially for indies—saving yourself the arduous process and cost of scouting and hiring a good localization/translation person/team on a text-heavy project would overwhelmingly outweigh the negatives.
 

ohms

Member
Japan didn’t release Digimon Story: Evolution, Draglade 2, Super Bonk 2, Dragon Quest Monsters 1&2 Remakes for GBA, and for the Nintendo 3DS, Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 3, Luminous Arc 3, Naruto Shippuden: Ninja Destiny 3, Soma Bringer, Dragon Quest X, Dragon Quest I-III Remakes for the Nintendo 3DS, etc.
It seems that Japan doesn’t like to release video game sequels, and certain games outside of Japan.
Ive read in forums the low end to translate a page of manga to english can be as low as $5 and as high as $20. I can only imagine how much it would cost to include in game translations to along with VA costs.
 

Yal

🐧 *penguin noises*
GMC Elder
/.../Action/Adventure games like Cave Story/.../
Cave Story's fan and official translations were separate afaik, there's several notable references where the fan translation interpreted things literally instead of catching the intent ("grasstown", "litagano motoscud") and I've also heard people overall think the official translation is more lifeless. (And supposedly the 3DS version is so bad because it was made without Pixel's blessing, Nicalis basically swindled him out of the rights to the game... not sure if the translation is to blame for it, but if it is I guess that might also explain why people don't want their games translated for a western audience)
 
Cave Story's fan and official translations were separate afaik, there's several notable references where the fan translation interpreted things literally instead of catching the intent ("grasstown", "litagano motoscud") and I've also heard people overall think the official translation is more lifeless. (And supposedly the 3DS version is so bad because it was made without Pixel's blessing, Nicalis basically swindled him out of the rights to the game... not sure if the translation is to blame for it, but if it is I guess that might also explain why people don't want their games translated for a western audience)
Nicalis supposedly used the original translation as a base. "Using a translation as a base" is anything from just doing minor edits for consistency to a complete overhaul like Geofront's work on the original translation of Trails of Azure. The entirety of Aeon Genesis' translation of Cave Story apparently exists, hidden and unused in the Wii version's files. No idea about later versions.

Nobody should want to work with Nicalis, ever 😂 Screwed over Pixel, screwed over Naramura and his team, along with countless other indie devs.
 
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I'm not Asian, never went to Japan, and know 0 people actually from there. But I do know enough of their culture to know for sure it's quite different than in Europe and the Americas. And they have enough people there to have financial success only in their market. RPGs were mentioned, but they have TONS of visual novel-type stuff that would never sell 1000 copies here, but they do amazing over there.
Japanese games are weirder in general, and I'm guessing they have to fit very well within the bracket of what they think is exportable to give themselves the trouble of localization.
 
I'm not Asian, never went to Japan, and know 0 people actually from there. But I do know enough of their culture to know for sure it's quite different than in Europe and the Americas. And they have enough people there to have financial success only in their market. RPGs were mentioned, but they have TONS of visual novel-type stuff that would never sell 1000 copies here, but they do amazing over there.
Japanese games are weirder in general, and I'm guessing they have to fit very well within the bracket of what they think is exportable to give themselves the trouble of localization.
It's not necessarily that Visual Novels wouldn't sell outside Japan. There was a Steam leak a few years ago that revealed a lot of major visual novels sold tens-to-hundreds of thousands of copies. Where the problem lies is the sheer amount of text in a VN. Several of the big ones have more text than the Bible, or the entirety of the Harry Potter series combined. That's an absurd amount of text to localize, and it makes getting a return on the localization investment incredibly difficult. Even some RPGs that are notorious for having a ton of text come out to barely half of the text some VNs have. It takes about as much—perhaps even more—effort (meaning cost) to localize a VN as it does to get it written in the first place.
 
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It's not necessarily that Visual Novels wouldn't sell outside Japan. There was a Steam leak a few years ago that revealed a lot of major visual novels sold tens-to-hundreds of thousands of copies. Where the problem lies is the sheer amount of text in a VN. Several of the big ones have more text than the Bible, or the entirety of the Harry Potter series combined. That's an absurd amount of text to localize, and it makes getting a return on the localization investment incredibly difficult. Even some RPGs that are notorious for having a ton of text come out to barely half of the text some VNs have. It's about as much—perhaps even more—effort (meaning cost) to localize a VN as it does to get it written in the first place.
You have a very good point for sure!
But, really, let's be honest. If these games were to sell generally as well in the west as in Japan, we'd see a lot more of them coming out of western studios, I'd think....
I dunno... Maybe it's an unexplored goldmine, who knows! But my gut feeling is that here we gear more toward action games, and they have a more casual approach in general.
But yeah, those Steam numbers you mentionned... if you were to sell that much as an indie or a small studio, you wouldn't be indie for much longer, these are big numbers!
 
You have a very good point for sure!
But, really, let's be honest. If these games were to sell generally as well in the west as in Japan, we'd see a lot more of them coming out of western studios, I'd think....
I dunno... Maybe it's an unexplored goldmine, who knows! But my gut feeling is that here we gear more toward action games, and they have a more casual approach in general.
But yeah, those Steam numbers you mentionned... if you were to sell that much as an indie or a small studio, you wouldn't be indie for much longer, these are big numbers!
VNs are niche products, inside and outside Japan. Only rarely does one break into mainstream, like with Fate stay/night, Clannad, or Doki Doki Literature Club. Sex sells, and tons of VNs (even the big ones) include terrible hardcore sex scenes just to get people to buy the game in the first place. The best-selling VNs by far (again, in and out of Japan) are very low-effort excuses for porn, and there are a lot of those coming out of the west. The Sakura series sells well over 300k copies per entry. There are countless VNs coming out of the west if you look for them, but I sure as heck am not going to sift through all the weird erotic VNs on Kickstarter and Patreon just so I can list examples.

The big reason you're not seeing a lot of big-budget VNs from the west is that it's a hard sell for the entire market—even your niche—when you're asking $60 for what is effectively an enhanced book. Seeing the relatively modest sales of high-quality VNs is a huge red flag to any serious developer with a passing interest in the genre. It's the same in Japan, where the amount of non-pornographic big-budget VNs in Japan has plummeted sharply in the past decade as major VN publishers have gone out of business. It's just much more cost-effective creating or localizing literally any other genre of video game. Even the previously-miniscule niche for JRPGs has expanded greatly over the same time period. The last 10 localized visual novels I've purchased on Steam were all based off of a fan translation, which is telling about how high-risk/low-reward the genre is.
 
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VNs are niche products, inside and outside Japan. Only rarely does one break into mainstream, like with Fate stay/night, Clannad, or Doki Doki Literature Club. Sex sells, and tons of VNs (even the big ones) include terrible hardcore sex scenes just to get people to buy the game in the first place. The best-selling VNs by far (again, in and out of Japan) are very low-effort excuses for porn, and there are a lot of those coming out of the west.
Gotta admit I'm not familiar with any of these games, but this does not surprise me. Even if I don't get it personally, I know cartoon/anime-porn is quite a big deal.

The big reason you're not seeing a lot of big-budget VNs from the west is that it's a hard sell for the entire market—even your niche—when you're asking $60 for what is effectively an enhanced book.
Yep. As long as people will buy a re-re-re-chewed Call of Duty or Tom Clancy's game for 100$ without blinking, but somehow devalue a game by 75% if it's a 2D indie game, even an amazingly good one.
If they only knew how much work goes into making big 2D games with all the animations, backgrounds, effects, etc, it's incredible. Much more work than uploading a 3D model, some animation and baking the lights for sure!
 
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