Originally Posted by GUTB_
kj1980, since you have the best aspect on whats going on in the industry in Japan, what's your view of the overall state of the game software industry? We hear little of it from here except for very broad and generalized figures in association with game consoles. Reading the news here you might think there is no industry period outside of Nintendo and Square-Enix in Japan. According your post, there's a huge industry underneath the big boys that gets no play (probably because they don't have market penetration outside of Japan). How much of a factor and a moving force in Japan are these guys?
Well, for one thing, big game software companies such as Square/Enix and Konami who made their bang by releasing Nintendo software in the 1980s are here to say. They provide a multi billion dollar economy into Japan. But, on the other hand, they also face a dillemma of rising production costs. Back in the days of the Famicom, you had many software companies that would try to make their fortunes by creating games for the Famicom. All you needed was a dot picture creator, a gscript of a great story, and a 8 bit programmer. Starting a company was relatively cheap, and if you made it, the fortune lay there. Konami and Square survived. Jaleco and Hudson didn't.
But now, in order to sell, with the power of the new consoles such as the PS2, game software needs to take a different form. Square began to find this out by FF7....and by FF10, they realized: A. production began to rise...B. they NEED to sell over a million copies to stay afloat. New software companies cannot come into such a market....unlike Square of Konami, they do not have the money. And even if they did, unless they have a success, they are going to go bankrupt.
On the other hand, you have PC eroge-. Just like the days of upstart 1980s Famicom software companies, all you need is a good story and a CG genga artist, and a programmer that knows DirectX (as most of them are). For cheap, but once it is a huge success, fortune lay ahead. This is why we have over 200 softhouses now...they are born, they are gone....in order to survive, they must sell. But unlike big software companies like Square, they don't need a huge production to do so.
A success story in the Japanese eroge- world is best described by the game "Tsukihime."
Back in the winter of 2001, a doujin group named TYPE-MOON released the game "Tsukihime" at the 2001 Winter Comic Market. They created their game using a open-source game software called N-Scripter. It was a typical novel-type eroge- in which there are several CG arts along with the novel script. They sold their first press of 10,000 CD-ROMs at 2001 Winter Comike with moderate success. By March 2001, word began to spread among otakus in Japan how Tsukihime was actually a very interesting game with a very great storyline. By Summer 2002 Comike, TYPE-MOON rised from a small doujin game that no one knew about to a doujin circle with an increasing demand for more presses. By then, Tsukihime had a VERY large following even from doujin standards. It became so big that they had a doujin event just for Tsukihime (which in itself was a doujin game) several times.
Like many of you know, Tsukihime is now an anime. THe base? A doujin game. What TYPE-MOON was able to accomplish was the ultimate dream for otakus...starting on the doujin level, achieve fame and fortune, and having your own story becoming a full scale anime. The original two creators of TYPE-MOON made Tsukihime on their home computer. By the end of 2002, the total profits they have made from Tsukihime goods (character dolls, trading figures, etc.) amounted to over $10 million. Judging by the anime production an typical Japanese anime royalty, they are also entitled to 10% royalty from anime DVD sales. It all started from two creators, who held thought up of a good story, in which they succeeded in sales. By end of 2002, they announced they will stop being a doujin circle to become a real company. In order to start a company in Japan, you need a minimum of $30,000 (business license). TYPE-MOON, is one of those companies that knew that they can't compete with Square or Konami, they began as a doujin group, made success, and began to rise fame and fortune through ero game means.