Hi Answerman,… Is there really a market for visual novel adaptions in the West if the concept of a visual novel is largely unknown here? (see full question here which is 14 lines long.)On Visual Novels themselves, I'll say this: I think the rather incredible reception for Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward in the US has really shown that there is indeed a market for visual novels in the West. Now, the Zero Escape games are a bit of an odd duck compared to most other Visual Novels out there, since the game is part Visual Novel, and part "Escape The Room"-style puzzle games. But the interesting concepts and wacky characters and impressively detailed writing for those games is what made them a success here; just look at how many "Best of 2012" awards Virtue's Last Reward racked up from the Western gaming press. Unfortunately, that may not exactly trickle down to other types of Visual Novels. So I'll say this: the future of Visual Novels will largely depend on the platform they're released on, and the quality of the game itself. I don't necessarily think that Visual Novels need to rely on their ties with any anime or manga tie-ins. Coincidentally, there's been some chatter coming from Nitroplus about a Western release of the original Steins;Gate game, which would personally thrill me, as that's a game I've been wanting to play for quite a while. But I wouldn't hold my breath to see that game get released on anything other than on iOS devices, or possibly the Playstation Vita. The Western game console market is too wracked and glutted with expensive content and it's difficult for niche genres to break out, considering the costs involved. No way they'd bother trying to find a publisher willing to put out the original Xbox 360 version, for example. And when I say "quality," I mean that implicitly. The Zero Escape games made a dent in Western gaming fans' eyes because they were basically billed as interesting puzzle games, and to their credit, the puzzle elements of the games actually correspond to, and actually enhance, the narrative. By comparison, Steins;Gate has very little actual "game" elements. I'm a pretty damn huge fan of the Phoenix Wright games also, but even those have a much bigger "video game" function than almost any other Visual Novel you can name. But I'm optimistic, in general. Up until now, the only Visual Novels we've been seeing are the ones that play less like a Visual Novel and more like a traditional video game. Phoenix Wright and Zero Escape may not be million sellers, but they're series that people with passion for gaming for the most part know about. They were a great Trojan Horse to get Westerners a little taste of what Visual Novels are, so now maybe something like Steins;Gate - a purely Visual Novel with only the barest of game-like interaction - can find its audience. The timing is right, and there's no shortage of digital platforms that allow self-publishing. (Except the Xbox!) All that matters now is that whoever wants to do it can afford the right time, hire the right translators, and trust that the audience will show up and pay for it.
^ I agree with everything here. I’m also thinking that, in this age you don’t really need mainstream appeal anymore to survive, the core fanbase will keep you alive. And secondly, that translating games that haven’t already been translated by fans means more core fans will be willing to support you.