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Dies irae Struggling Towards its Kickstarter Goal

Written by Decay

Dies irae has been one of those legendary VNs highly lauded by certain members of the community for years now. It’s among the top rated games on VNDB and EGS. Everywhere you go in the VN community, you see people sporting Dies irae avatars, starting up new discussions on the game, proclaiming their undying love for the writer Masada, and so on. The excitement was palpable when it came out that it was being localized and there would be a Kickstarter. Then the Prefundia page came along with a star cast of translators and every fan-pandering feature you can think of. So this Kickstarter should have been an instant smash success, right? Welp.

Chart generated by statbackr

The Dies irae Kickstarter is almost certainly going to reach its goal, but the journey there has been rougher than anyone expected. The very beginnings were inauspicious. The PR team and the translation team were working together in the early weeks of December to assemble more appealing reward tiers than what was shown in the Prefundia. They were expecting a late December launch when on December 15th Light gave the word: They were launching the Kickstarter that day. They sent out an email to their Prefundia followers (from their own mail servers which triggered many spam filters, instead of going through Prefundia itself), and an hour later the campaign went live.

It wasn’t the campaign launch we had hoped for. They somehow scraped together a decent first day amid all the chaos and confusion of the sudden launch, but it wasn’t the blowout some expected. Then, we were met with long periods of silence from the PR team. Most of the PR actually came courtesy of the translation team (who aren’t being paid for their PR efforts). The biggest question surrounding the rushed launch — what happened to some of the bigger tiers, and will we get good replacements — remains unanswered. The two new tiers they added were primarily aimed at the Japanese audience and are even the only two tiers with Japanese descriptions. A baffling move considering they’ve yet to make the case for why a Japanese person would otherwise back the project.

Things were still doing okay, though. Despite the lackluster PR and the lack of attention from Light, the community was coming together as best they can to fund the game and spread the word. The campaign was hobbling along towards its $160,000 goal. And then the stretch goals happened. I am not exaggerating even a little when I say that they are among the worst stretch goals I’ve ever seen in nearly five years of browsing Kickstarter, and definitely the worst VN stretch goals I’ve seen. The stretch goals they showed us in the Prefundia weren’t amazing, but they were okay. They gave some decent goals to work towards. New ports, fandisc translation, and even a brand new DI story written by Masada.

Instead, we got a 16 page booklet for our first stretch goal. Sixteen pages. The first stretch goal, which is meant to be an addition to the physical versions, amounts to less than what a decent game manual looks like, and they want $40,000 additional dollars for it. This is such an absurdly uninspiring stretch goal that not only did it fail to get people to up their pledges, I actually know of several people who either downgraded or removed their pledges altogether because it is so insultingly insignificant.

The other stretch goals are bad too, of course. The Vita stretch goal was made more expensive, and has an added requirement of a $100 pledge in order to have the option of acquiring the digital version (no physical version announced). This was another source of dropped pledges, as many Vita owners realized that backing for a Vita version was no longer a wise investment. The fan book collection was downgraded to a single fan book, only available at $400 and up. And the Interview with Kaziklu Bey (the fandisc) and new story goals? Those are still hidden away, for whatever reason.

Once people were done revoking pledges, things steadied out again. But that misstep has become emblematic of how poorly run this campaign has been. Neither Light nor their PR company (who supposedly ran Kickstarters before) seem to have any idea of what they’re doing. They have a poor grasp on the intricacies of the western market, and how it differs from the Japanese market. But it’s not all bad. Things are on an upward trend again, and the English world may get their Dies irae yet. I’ll now evaluate this campaign’s current assets, then draw conclusions and make predictions on its future:

The Good

  • They’re on a strong upward trend. It’s not entirely known why numbers have been up the last couple days. It could be that those who dropped their pledges are picking them back up again. Other people also seem to be grabbing the big limited tiers that were abandoned after the stretch goal update. The game also went live on Steam Greenlight a few days ago which could have helped a lot. It’s likely a combination of all three factors. This progress is preventing the campaign from stalling before the finish line, but it’s still not going to carry them very far beyond their initial goal at this pace.
  • Fan passion remains strong. Kickstarter projects already almost never end with funding just barely falling short of the goal. The number of campaigns ending at 90% or more are astonishingly low. At that point, psychological effects kick in that drive people to up their pledges and show stronger support to push the campaigns past the finish line. And DI fans have shown that their passion is stronger than most. This makes it extremely unlikely that it will fail as long as it gets close enough. This is not something you ever want to rely on, however.
  • The holiday season is almost over. This is actually pretty important. The campaign launched at a time that was very bad for big spending. Perhaps Light simply wasn’t aware of how big of a blunder launching a little over a week before Christmas is because of the difference between Japanese and western Christmas traditions. In any case, now that the holiday season is over people are much more willing to spend money on frivolous expenses, which is great news for Dies irae.

The Bad

  • The stretch goals are still abysmal. A good stretch goal is one that really gets people going, something that they really want to see come to fruition. This is easier with in-development games where you can promise new features. With a localization, though, the options are more limited. Still, they have to find something better than a 16 page booklet.
  • The PR is still doing little. I’m not sure we should expect any more cross promotional deals or external coverage. That means it’s up to the fans to get the word out. What little they are doing is highly confusing. After discovering that add-ons exist (they seriously didn’t know what they were until a few days ago), they created a $70 blanket add-on, then called it exclusive to the Kickstarter. Except it’s also currently being sold at Comiket.
  • The tiers are still lackluster. In part of the rush to launch the campaign on Light’s spontaneously accelerated schedule, several stretch goals that were then being workshopped were outright removed, with replacements promised but never delivered.
  • At the current pledge rate of $77 per backer, we need 600 more backers. We will likely need more, as the high-end tiers are already taken up and the current average rate per backer is lower. This number is possible but tricky.

What needs to happen

  • Get some better tiers, add more add-ons. This needed to happen two weeks ago, and it still needs to happen. It’s not too late to open up some cool new high-end rewards. The demand is certainly still there. Getting more backers in the upper hundreds and even thousands will reduce the overall number of backers required quite a bit. This will be especially important in the ending rush, they simply need more ways for people to spend lots of money if they want that ending spike to be as big as it could be.
  • Reveal the last two stretch goals, and explain what the new story will be. They introduced new tiers tailor made for Japanese backers, but they didn’t give Japanese backers a reason to actually back. Telling them that they could get new content would give them the incentive they need to pitch in. These are the fans who contributed $800,000 to the Dies irae anime. They have clearly the money to spend.
  • Fix the Vita situation. They should 1) Work out a deal to produce a physical copy with Limited Run Games and get them to promote it like they did with Sharin no Kuni (that produced a massive boost for them), and 2) Axe the booklet goal and move the Vita up a bit, offer a reasonably priced Vita copy add-on. They likely don’t have the time left in the campaign to work out the details for #1, but #2 is still possible to fix.

This campaign still has hope. The last few days have been quite encouraging. It now seems quite likely that they will indeed reach $160,000. But what about Interview With Kaziklu Bey? Or the new story? Or future Masada games? Dies irae seems like it has its funding secured, but Light’s future in the west looks bleak at this point. It doesn’t have to end with just Dies irae, though. If they make the changes they should make, they can turn things around and have their second half of the campaign be much bigger than the first.

And it needs support from the community, as well. Light and Dies irae coming over to the west is truly a big deal. If we show our support towards their games and make them as successful as they deserve to be here, that will open the doors to many other similar companies. If you were one of many who asked for these games to get licensed, it’s finally happening. It’s time to put your money where your mouth is and show your support.

About the author


Hello, I'm Decay, an avid fan of visual novels and a regular poster on Fuwanovel. Also, I now review and write about VNs officially for Fuwanovel? Yeah, that started happening at some point. You may also see me on VNDB as dk382.


  • It’s gonna get funded, but in a way, I wish it wasn’t. The “fans” clearly show they don’t deserve it. Everyone was hyped for it and they did an amazing job with their Prefundia page and what they were saying they’d deliver in terms of content for the game, restoring censorship, upgraded graphics, etc. But then I see people telling others to not support this because the stretch goals or rewards aren’t good enough. ?????? There’s just so much wrong in the way things are handled in the VN scene, by both fans and publishers, both sides are just spoiled with each other that it becomes hell when a campaign like this comes along, even for a massive title.
    Quite sad honestly.

    • Your reasoning is absurd: those who were hyped mostly pledged from 35 to 100$ since there’s no real incentive to pledge more and you won’t just throw your money into the air even for Dies. But those are not that many, you know. Otherwise the horrible campaign failed to capture a new audience, why should the more casual vn readers be hated (who are the ones that usually fund these kickstarters) when the campaign does nothing to entice them? Or even let them know it exists? Then fans notice this, get angry and of course complain about the obvious shortcomings. The more you pledged, the more bitter you feel, the more you complaign. You are a fan of the game, not a slave to the publishers that can’t even run a decent campaign. Some extreme cases were telling not to support the campaing because they hoped for a good relaunch, like it happened with Sharin. Not because they are dissatisfied with not getting a t-shirt but because they care that much about the game and because with a good relaunch it could finally capture a much bigger audience that it deserves. Telling they “don’t deserve” the game because of it is just as silly as boycotting the game altogether.

      • Sure the PR team wasn’t doing a good job but people are getting mad because of that? All your negativity is doing even more damage than the PR team not doing anything (which is no damage at all). Yeah, better gamble on a restart, maybe we’re extra lucky and they’ll just decide it’s not worth it.
        It’s fine to complain but I really hear people talk about how it’s just not worth it anymore and I can’t just wrap my head around any of that crap. It’s like with the stretch goals, apparently them existing and being bad is actually a bad thing, if they had no goals at all that’d be better.
        But like I said, the fault is both sides, the publisher for exploiting the KS system and the fans for allowing that to happen, and then them getting spoiled by each other. Ask for less money to actually KS your localization and offer what you have to offer, the damn game.

        • As one of those fans who actively called for a complete relaunch (to which I still stand, btw), I want to make my position perfectly clear.

          For one, those saying “it’s just not worth it anymore” are a very small minority; those actually likely to support given the right incentives, but just actively depressed by a below average campaign. Rail against them all you want, but that doesn’t help. These are still fans whom we should be trying to reach out to and we’re not doing that right now.

          Secondly, Dan had it exactly right. This isn’t about a few lackluster rewards or some vendetta against the PR team, and in a way, it’s not solely about DI either. Talk to professionals who worked on the Muv-Luv KS and others and they’ll tell you they think this should’ve been funded on the very first day, or at least not long after. Why should fans settle for just barely getting over the finish line when we could’ve done so much better than that?

          And there are consequences to that kind of lackluster performance, and no, they do not just fall solely on the fans’ shoulders, your assertions to the contrary notwithstanding. This is also about the long-term and seeing that Masada’s other games are brought over to the west. Having Dies Irae just barely make it makes that task a helluva lot tougher.

          If nothing else, maybe this whole farce of a campaign should give serious reconsideration to the idea of just who’s in charge, or at least allow for an easier reshuffling of things when there’s such widespread discontent over how a campaign is being run.

          • Reconsideration on what? Maybe the people being the localization don’t want to go through the trouble of handing out all these rewards for KS, maybe they don’t want to port the game to another system, maybe they just want to fund the base game. But you just can’t do that nowadays, you have to meet all these expectations, because the fans “don’t see the point of giving them money”, that’s what I meant with fans being spoiled, because people apparently just don’t want the game alone anymore. KS used to be a platform for “hey, here’s my idea, if you like it, maybe give me the money for the item now and I’ll give it to you when it’s done, or just give me more money for nothing because you like the idea”. Though the people behind the KS also seem to think they can just get all the money they want, hence my comment on them being spoiled too.
            I think it’s a shitty system, but it won’t change even if this or another big game failed, they’ll just relaunch to meet said expectations and everything stays the exact same and keeps getting worse and worse until the day they start spending over half of the budget on KS rewards that aren’t the game itself (which shouldn’t be very far off), at that point you giving more money isn’t supporting the localization one bit. most of it won’t even be going towards that goal.

          • That’s quite a lot of “maybes” you’ve got going on there, none of which hold much water upon further inspection. It’s a fact that virtually all of the KS rewards are leftovers from the anime KS, which says all you need to know about how much Light is invested in this. No matter how much one loves DI, fans are perfectly right to feel insulted here.

            Secondly, and I can’t find the words to emphasize this enough; you have not even the faintest idea what you’re talking about when you rant against the KS system. Seriously, think about what you’re saying. Your explanation for your assertion that fans are spoiled boils down to the idea that people wanting incentives for their investment is somehow an intrinsically bad thing.

            Tell me. Does anyone just want a computer anymore? Of course not. People expect a whole slew of things to come with it (pre-installed operating system, music/video software, trial versions of anti-virus software, browsers, up-to-date drivers and plugins, etc.) If anyone bought a computer and found it only bare bones with none of that, they’d be on the phone in under a minute to ask what the hell was going on.

            It’s the same story with any number of things: phones, memberships, TVs, gaming systems, iPods, etc. People can and do expect incentives for their money for a plethora of merchandise in today’s world, even for things they want.

            That said, you’re free to decry the system itself all you want, but as you yourself just said, there’s no changing it, so you have to work within it if you want to accomplish something.

        • I’m answering to your last post from December 30, 2016 at 12:54 pm. Let’s be honest here: Light have quite a lot of money for a vn company, they could have easily released the game without Kickstarter and they were going too, if Conjueror is to be believed. But then they looked at all these campaings (and especially RD’s) and decided to make a quick cashgrab to have zero risks at launch.

          They decided to use the KS to make their life easy so they have to play by its rules. You don’t just come out and say “hey, I want money”. They knew what they were going into and they had all the choices in the world not to. It’s not like they had no choice. So why the hell do you blame their obvious greed on the fans who are treated like manure here? All the tiers are literally a few leftover goods from the anime campaing. Yes, the one they actually cared about and the one that was greatly organized. GREATLY. It’s like heaven and hell when you compare that campaign with this KS. Even now they promote this KS more to the japanese than the actual target audience in the west, it’s absurd.

          Light’s incomptence is only their fault, they are the ones who are entitled kids here who wanted people to just give them money without any effort on their side, not the fans. Yes, the game itself was managed great but I’m more than sure that completely different people worked on these things, so those guys are probably pained even more by the inadequacy of the Light executives.

          But yeah, if you are content with barely reaching the base goal and most likey never seeing another Light game localized because of the horrid campaign and their apathy toward the western fans, then sure, you’ll probably be satisfied. Because with how they promote it (or actually don’t) there’s no way common folk is suddenly going to buy it on steam in thousands. Ah, but when you’ll blame the people again when Light won’t localize anything else, please at least remember my post.

        • I’d like to know your reasoning on why the fans are responsible for “letting it happen” and what they should have done differently in order to prevent such exploitation. You can’t bring something like that up without actually explaining yourself.

          Ultimately I don’t think your reasoning holds water. A handful of fans becoming jaded thanks to a poorly run kickstarter is 1) Not indicative of the thoughts of the overall fanbase, and 2) not worth dismissing the entire fanbase over. Your posts reads more like a kneejerk emotional reaction than most of the fan feedback I’ve seen.

  • When I first heard about the Kickstarter, I was very excited. It was a bit disappointing to see them stumble on the stretch goals though…

  • Their not knowing what add-ons are was and is a huge blunder. I have interest in (although now I’m more willing to conserve my money after waiting so long) paying more for a t-shirt or tapestry, but because of the way the tiers are set up I’d have to pay $65 of badges and straps I don’t want just to get to a tier that has them.

    If they want to raise more than the base goal they need to add more add-ons and tiers because there’s little incentive to upgrade as of now.

  • Now. My first thoughts. I just find that the Game looks really really GOOD. Next up. Kickstarter. The campaign that was set up was really really BAD.

    What more is there to explain? Really? Reading PP’s post, it left a bitter taste in my mouth. First of all, the lack of the communication to VN Fans. Why are announcements these scarce? News related to Clannad and Muv-Luv for example, have a huge popularity.

    What can easily be thought of would be that:

    1) Fans are now less willing to put in money into VN (trend fading), which I definitely would hope that it is unlikely.

    2) Fans didn’t even know about the campaign in the first place.

    Now. Whether it was the poor marketing strategy by their end or not, it’s not something we should touch on. Well. We should, but it’s clearly in plain view. If there truly is anyone that really is still clueless, I don’t mind answering as ‘on point’ to the current situation as possible.

    Also. For PP’s post about reward tiers. Okay. Screw it, there’s nothing wrong about Kickstarter of course. Fans expect higher rewards aligning with its higher tiers that were reached. Maybe. Just maybe, that the people that made the campaigns on Kickstarter didn’t do their research properly, then of course what they ‘want’, doesn’t accommodate to what they ‘expect’ from how Kickstarter works.

    Well~ In the end, what is it that I want to say. Hmm. This article is something I appreciate but in regards to PP’s post, some parts in their own rights are justifiable but not in how he/she phrased it. Indeed, fans and developers must work together to accomplish a win-win situation for both parties.

    Ah most importantly, I want to talk about the Vita portion about the $100 amount needed for fans to play the port version. As much hardcore of a fan one is, I truly don’t think they will even hand over their money over a ‘digital’ game with no additional noteworthy implement to that very [$100 Vita] option. I understand that there are licenses and all that complicated stuff and honestly, I don’t understand one bit in the calculations done to their finances and budgets which led to the $100 Vita. It’s just this. What fans value is not about how good of a product it is but about the costs in the value of a product.

    Will $100 be worth the Vita port? What consumers expect are prices that are still acceptable, maybe $40? Affordable. That’s something consumers want and if the product is actually overly priced for something that is not worth the upgrade, then of course there will be upsets. At the end of the day, if Vita port actually amounts to such, they might have removed it unless they want to hear criticisms on the pricing.

    Anyone that are against my opinions can kindly comment. Thank you 🙂

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