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Interview with Developers of Hakuoki and their view of the Western Market

On ANN there is an article where they interview the developers of Hakuoki, Norihisa Kochiwa and Tsunekiyo Fujisawa. I’ve picked out the choice bits:

Q: It’s rare to see a visual-novel "otome" game like Hakuōki released in North America. How do you think the game has done in the U.S.?
Kochiwa: Up until now, visual novel games in the U.S. were not accepted as “games.” The reason why we were able to release Hakuōki in the U.S. is because we had Aksys Games who understood Hakuōki and fans outside of Japan who supported it. As a result, our beautiful illustrations and story got into the users’ hands correctly, and we’ve received great reviews. I would like to express my thanks to those involved, along with the fans.

Q: Looking at Idea Factory’s website, it seems as though games on the Otomate label make up a lot of the company’s current lineup. How do you think the Japanese game market has changed in recent years with regard to female players?
Kochiwa: It’s not just our company, but rather the overall count of the otome game titles as a whole has increased, and I feel like there is a lot of hype in the otome market. There are announcements of new releases almost every month and every title has various themes and they are all so attractive. We strive to respond to the user’s demands and create games that exceed expectations, thus stimulating and creating more hype in the otome game market.

On that note, how do you think the market in North America is changing for Japanese visual novels? Will you consider releasing similar games in North America, such as Norn 9?
Kochiwa: Hakuōki was the first time we released an otome title in the U.S. However, the market is still very small, and I do not think it will be an easy path. For Norn 9, I believe the quality of the art and the story will satisfy U.S. consumers. If there are enough voices that request it, we would like to make your wishes come true. Please continue to support us!

You can support by picking up Bakudan Handan/Sweet Fuse (otome game) on PSP. Like I always say to people, do what your heart tells you to do. And that’s pretty much enough to get people to pull out their wallets. If there is demand for localization, then it is possible for the supply side to provide. $$$ for localization (not for copies). Pretty simple.


I'm the Fuwanovel community admin and a big fan of Visual Novels. The easiest way to get a hold of me is via a PM on the Fuwanovel Forums, by twitter (@ArchmageTay), or by email.

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11 years ago

Quite a while before Hakuouki was confirmed for localization, the company Idea Factory offered a survey for English-speaking fans, asking what they wanted. It was followed up by two different surveys by Aksys Games. After all that, I was surprised to see that the PSP version of Hakuouki was licensed.

By the time it was announced, there was almost no other software slated for release on the console in English. While there is still a market for PSP games in Japan, it seems like nearly all companies currently consider PSP software in English to be financially unsuccessful. And it’s a niche product that was almost the first of its kind to be released in English. It’s kind of amazing to think that more than a few hundred people bought the translated version of Hakuouki.

Also, I thought that the DS version might be licensed, since so many DS games available in English were unusual in terms of console games. (The system had well-known examples of software that did not emphasize gameplay, games meant to be edutainment, and games aimed at people over 25.) But since DS games are sold exclusively as cartridges, that might have resulted in thousands of copies sitting unopened on store shelves, or ending up in bargain bins.

As of this writing, Otomate has two VNs available for Android and iOS devices, and one for 3DS. I realize that those markets are quite competitive, and that it can be difficult to sell more than a few copies of a game for either platform. In the near future, the company needs to sell games for platforms besides the PSP. Should it make Windows or browser games? More products for 3DS, Android, and iOS? These are all good questions to consider.

Finally, I’m not sure why Aksys Games chose to license Bakudan Handan. The company had made statements about choosing Hakuouki for its violent, suspenseful story. Was that a factor for Sweet Fuse as well? Did the company choose it for the meta element of Keiji Inafune as a character? Was the decision based on Sweet Fuse not having voice actors with high fees, an animated adaptation, or other high profile spinoffs?

11 years ago

O.o good points.

I have a feeling it might be because Bakudan Handan has that phoenix wright reference, and maybe theyre trying to draw a slightly larger crowd with the Inafune cameo than the otomege girls?

By the way how did you know only a few hundred bought translated Hakuoki? did they release numbers?