Episode 10 – Piracy

Hey, folks! Back for our (almost) one year anniversary! This month we talk about piracy in the visual novel community and how it has affected the medium to date.

Topics Covered

0:00 – Host and Topic Intro

0:54 – When/If should people Ever pirate visual novels?

18:50 – How much piracy affect the market? Positivley or Negatively?

31:52 – Ways VN Community/Companies could prevent piracy

42:18 – News

1:02:08 – Shill segment ft. Rallina v2

1:05:51 Closing

Visuals Novels Discussed

Visual Novels Mentioned

2 thoughts on “Episode 10 – Piracy”

  1. Another excellent podcast! So far they all have been very informative and easy to listen to. Great job guys, you’re one of my favourite podcasts so far in the realm of VNs! (and actually outside of that even) I hope you’ll keep at it!

    I was really impressed with how you guys handled the discussion and touched on what I personally perceive to be the grand issues concerning piracy. I’m not adding much to that discussion per se, just throwing in my experiences with them (I need to vent a bit as well as consider some things since I might want to get into VN-creation myself)

    While accessibility is getting better with the localizations the whole jumping through hoops thing is something one probably only does when already being a fan of the genre or the particular VN (or simply just having more time and a higher starting interest) For me having to go through too many actions to get something to run is just not worth my time or effort (I’m a woman in my thirties, and the chance that a visual novel will disappoint me is extremely high, on many levels, so why even bother?)

    The EVN’s being readily available was something I was initially very excited about, but there are other problems those often have though I think they do have distinct advantages as well (the pro is also often the con) They are mostly by small indie devs. This means lack of financial resources (usually) which shows in the assets (most artwork for EVNs is just mediocre/lacklustre compared to JVNs) and while fans of the VN genre will likely put up with more, wanting to support the medium’s development as well as the community and its creators, the average person who’s not into VNs but knows them vaguely off of JVN images and is used to triple AAA game aesthetics will likely just instantly judge them as unprofessional and therefore ‘bad’ or just ‘low value.’ The first impression is lost, and often with that, the entire battle.

    I think the EVNs have a huge advantage in not necessarily being beholden to Japanese formats and tropes and offering potentially more quality over quantity, which was mentioned in the podcast and a prior one I think, as well and I also wholeheartedly agree with that quantity doesn’t override quality for many people, but it’s easy to see the Western branch of medium is going through growing pains and at this point the quality isn’t prolific enough yet to really jump out and capture newbies (while it’s getting better!)

    As someone coming in from the outside, only having played more well known and/or gamey VNs like the phenomenal Ace Attorney Series, Hotel Dusk & The Last Window (for those gameplay was not necessarily good but I hugely enjoyed the ambience, art, story and especially the dialogues) 9 hours 9 persons 9 doors etc, one of the hardest for me to get around is the ‘perception of value.’
    Having been an avid gamer for most of my life, I must admit that while I’m uncomfortable with the thought (also being a (hobbyist) artist and writer and even getting interested in the creation of VNs) my comparison between a 40,- game and a 40,- VN will by default skew heavily in the favour of the game (certainly there are bad games at that price tag that don’t warrant the money, but I’m speaking general value here) Getting into a few VN recommendations that were on steam and seeing their pricetags made me go ‘nope’ immediately. There was not even a shred of consideration at the time. I felt bad about that, actually, and it made me stop and think how the response itself was also instant. It’s obvious that even as someone who knows how much is involved with creating art and stories my internal judgement concerning the perception of value is that VNs are nowhere near on the same level of value as games are to me.

    Atm I have the battle of ‘I want to try this’ on one side and ‘it’s too expensive and is 80% sure to disappoint me on some level or multiple ones, so why not get a console/pc game I know I will enjoy instead.”

    I’m -not- saying this to tell people how ‘games are better than vns’ at all or to badmouth the medium (there is still so much to gain in the medium itself!) but that for people like me, a potential market share hovering on the periphery, the hurdles to get into VNs are too high. Accessibility is getting less of a problem. So that hurdle is much lower. At least I’m looking up VNs on steam and .io so the first step is more or less accomplished.

    The pricing, however, often actively discourages me to try much, which is why good demos are so important to avoid piracy as well which I think was mentioned but not much. If I have a chance to try a VN prior to buying it the chances go up instantly because it dilutes the price-problem at least a bit.

    A side note on that: several EVN’s had broken or troubled demos ranging from busted Auto to typos, glitches in music etc and it’s really off-putting. It’s fun for the community who’s involved with the developer and follows them to see how far they’ve come and they’ll understand its WIP state, but for a random/newbie not familiar with the occasionally amateurish (but passionate) EVN community coming in ‘oh what is this’ without much prior knowledge the chance of an immediate ‘not going to buy’ is relatively high.

    I think quite a lot of the EVN creator community comes from passionate hobbyists who want to go pro because they cannot play the things they really want (I’d be one of them) so they have to make it themselves, with all of the learning processes and troubles that brings with it.

    Aside from the perception of value there is the lack of content for my demography (straight, woman, 30+ let alone any specific interests in setting/theme/tone/genre etc I may have aside from that) If it even exists in Japan then the chances it has of getting translated, even for FTL’s are just practically nil.
    I’m also theoretically interested in BL but in reality, it often tends to be too immature/smut oriented for me to seriously consider buying it because I no longer belong to the age demography.
    So I’m wondering if there a market out there of people like me who just don’t get catered to period? Could we be tempted into the VN market and add to its value (profit potential for companies) if there was more content for us to consume aside from the outliers like Ace Attorney etc? (On another side note, I am actually truly curious if I’m just an outlier myself or if there are hidden droves of us hovering on the edges) (I’m sorry for that potentially frightening image)

    Also age (oh woe) does become a factor. While I can still potentially read a novel where the characters are much younger if the protagonist is a set and developed entity on their own I can empathize with/relate to if it’s a serious story that doesn’t bank on H-scenes (poignant and well done sex scenes/erotica is absolutely fine and even preferred, but I’m mostly with Rallina on this one where it comes to an excess of pointless, story/character disconnected smut)
    Self-inserts where the romance interests are obviously 10+ years younger than I am irl would just make me feel a range of uncomfortable/disturbed to utter disgust. Either way, the enjoyability would be gone.

    Technically, gleaning from your podcasts, I’d be most interested in The House in Fata Morgana and Umineko. The downside is my gamer attitude and need for meaningful choice/influence/gameplay elements. My biggest interests theme/handling wise are a kinetic novel and a nearly kinetic novel. Since it’s really hard to just find anything that ticks just a few boxes at all for me you can understand why this makes me cry on the inside.

    To echo an earlier sentiment on the gameplay podcast (sorry I forgot who said it, my apologies) ‘If I wanted to have gameplay, I’d play a game.’ Something I can absolutely understand but in a reverse manner. In my case it’s ‘if I just wanted to read a story I’d just read a book’ Even a Choose Your Own Adventure with text only caters to me more in that regard and interestingly enough, for Umineko and THIFM it will be the audio that will be the deciding factor for me to still get it, most likely.

    I’m not trying to counter that statement btw, It’s perfectly valid, I’m just coming in from the opposite angle and I thought it was really interesting to hear more about the core VN audience and how they (can) differ from me in that way 🙂 I’d love to hear about that more.

    I think that VN’s for me are The Great Promise on Which it Seldom Delivers. And that’s a shame. When I think of VN’s my first feeling is excitement, joy, a lingering memory of great ambience, beautiful colours, story etc and while I never really got much wish-fulfilment out of them I can see how it’s a huge factor for many.

    Still I’m looking forward to get into the medium more, and be surprised (in a good way, hopefully)

    Sorry, I know this did not contribute much, but aside from my rambling I wanted to say I am just really appreciative of you guys putting in the effort for this podcast and I really love it as I really learn much from it. Well done.

    My only sidenote would be to occasionally consider whether all of your audience will understand what you’re talking about when it comes to abbreviations etc. Often I have to pause to look up a term, or skim the ‘discussed/mentioned’ VN’s section to find out what you are talking about. I can understand most of it in context or after looking it up but please be a tad mindful to newbies/casuals to the medium as well 🙂

    Thanks for reading (sorry so long)

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