Minisurvey about VN/Dating sims results

Disclaimer: speaking with some friends who knows more about statistics than me, they said that the data collected might be not really reliable. I know, I made it mostly for fun with no intention of providing the “ultimate guide to make visual novels” for game developer :)

However, from my personal experience (I’ve made many VN/Dating Sims in past 3 years) I have to admit was quite surprised by the results, because they match completely my experience regarding which games sells more. The data collected comes mostly from Lemmasoft, Amaranthia, my own twitter, my forums, and indiegamer forums.

The total people who answered is 126, but recently has been progressing of only 1 new person a day, so I guess is time to draw conclusiong and post results.

I’ve made a PNG image of the final result, so anyone can link to it or share it easily, look on the right side of this post for the clickable thumbnail. As you can see, the standard Otome and Bish?jo are the most popular genres (well, no surprise here). As for art-style, detailed manga (I suppose like Heileen, Bionic Heart) wins hands on over all other art genres. People don’t like american comic style and cartoon style (I wish I did this survey before making Vera Blanc, I would have used manga art for that game too!).

As for setting, again no surprise: fantasy settings are always the most popular in any kind of games, not just VN/Dating Sims, so really I expected that. The other settings are more or less equivalent, only the modern drama/slice of life is slightly more popular (and yes, sci-fi isn’t much popular!).

Sexyness in games is a bit surprising, and probably the result less reliable IMHO. From my experience is always safer to go with family friendly (if you’re interested in maximizing revenues) for the simple fact that most big portal/sites wouldn’t accept your game otherwise. If you are making the game just as hobby or with direct sales in mind only, then you can ignore it :) So far most of my games fall into the 2nd category from top, sexy stuff, but I have many family friendly games coming out next. One day I would like to make a very sexy, almost erotic game though. Maybe when I have enough funds to make Bionic Heart 2 as I have in mind of doing it.

The extras question is really a surprise. And I believe is very accurate: Most people don’t want to mix genres. If they want to play a minigame, they can find plenty of them in casual games. I really think VN/dating sims should focus more on typical dating sims elements and statistics. Or just let the players to read the story. You can also argue that if you put too many minigames in a VN, then it isn’t a real VN anymore but a “game with a story” ;) It’s somewhat hybrid territory here.

“What is most important” result is also interesting. The most important thing is WRITING! Not art, as I was always thinking. Also, the starting idea, and I agree completely. If the starting idea is good, and the writing too, you have all the elements needed for a good VN. That’s the reason why I’m not personally writing my future games anymore :D
Also is interesting that most people don’t care about voice overs. I had already given up on that because of too many unreliable voice-artists, and the result somehow comforts me. People don’t seem to care too much about the number of endings as well. Maybe better to make a more linear story, but longer to play ?

Based on the next question, “Do you really replay dating sim/visual novels to see all the possible endings?” it really seems so. Not many people are obsessed about unlocking all endings, apparently. I sort of agree since I do the same. I did the same also for AAA titles like Dragon Age / mass effect 2. I simply went to youtube and looked for videos for the other possible endings :)

About the remaining results, people seems to like game series (after a slow start I am now getting good results with Heileen 1+2 bundles), most people use a PC to play, and they don’t seem too much enthusiast about the idea of having to be connected to play a game.

That’s all! Again, this is not the holy-bible-of-VNs, but I found the results quite interesting and in many cases matching my own experience.

It means that you should all make fantasy based VN with stats and RPG elements? Well no, I believe that any game that is GOOD can sell: is your choice if you want to try to appeal mainstream (but have more competition) or niches (smaller market but much less competition). Personally I’d like to see more horror VNs, for example! :)

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6 Responses to Minisurvey about VN/Dating sims results

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m not surprised about voice overs, actually. Voice actors in America can by no means be compared to Japanese seiyuus in terms of fanbase, and since VNs are so niche, it is hard to get good quality voice acting. So from a fan perspective, it doesn’t really matter. And it certainly is convenient for the developer.

    I think aiming your games at a portal community limits your freedom though. That’s just me. Different philosophies, I suppose.

    In general, I agree. Know the desires of your target audience, but make a good game is key. It’s the balancing of all the elements that so hard. Dating sims/life sims/VN. I’m really glad stats raising is not very far from RPG elements, because I despise creating RPG elements in my VNs/dating sims.

    • admin says:

      Yes if you make a game for casual audience there are definitely some “taboo topics”. It’s a personal choice, it really depends on what you want to do.

  2. Vincent says:

    Hi. I’ve just bought a copy of Vera Blanc episode one… and I must say that if it had featured Manga graphics, I would probably not even have taken a look at it… I really prefer the American comic style above anything else.

    By the way, I’ve never played virtual novels before (to be honest I didn’t really know this genre existed), but as a big fan of adventure games I was blown away by the demo… I knew I’d buy it within 15 minutes. Keep up the good work :)

    Best regards, Vincent

  3. admin says:

    Vincent: thanks, the second episode is being tested right now and will be out very likely next week (or sooner).
    I think my Vera series was geared towards adventure gamers indeed, but most of them didn’t like the long dialogues perhaps?
    I am not sure, but as I said in blog I can’t produce a 3rd episode unless sales pick up a lot (because producing such a game requires much more money than a normal VN).
    I might have a full adventure game coming next year though, if everything goes as planned 8)

  4. rioka says:

    Hey Jack!

    I’m really surprised how people pigeon-hole themselves to equating a certain genre to an art style but I guess that is to be expected when VN’s were practically born with manga-style graphics from the beginning.

    It’s good to hear you’re continue the Vera Blanc series, btw. I think using a different style can open up the market to new people as with Vincent’s case above. Keep it up!

    OT: Here’s something fun in a “it’s so horrible I’ll laugh” kind of way: http://www.siliconera.com/2010/08/25/another-terrible-looking-dating-game-from-silver-dollar/

    • admin says:

      Well it’s either that, or the combo VN+mystery using western style. Probably I attracted western adventure players and most of them are about puzzles / classic adventures, and don’t like to read much. That’s my guess. The silver dollar game looks horrible :D

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