Why Isn’t Steins;Gate Available On Steam?

By Ishaan . December 23, 2014 . 2:01pm

Earlier this year, JAST USA localized and published Nitroplus and Mages’ hit visual novel Steins;Gate in the West. Then, last week, U.K. publisher PQube announced that they would release the game on PlayStation 3 and Vita in both North America and Europe, making it accessible to even more players.


There’s just one thing missing—a Steam release. Despite being one of the most well-known visual novels of the last few years, Steins;Gate isn’t available on Steam, which is surprising given that visual novels have been making headway on that platform, thanks to the efforts of Sekai Project, MangaGamer, and even indie developers that are working on their own visual novel games.


Siliconera got in touch with JAST USA founder Peter Payne to ask if he could share any insight as to why Steins;Gate hasn’t been made available for purchase on Steam. Here’s what he said:


Steins;Gate was developed by several companies, including Mages/5pb and Nitroplus, and the ownership of the title is very complex, to the point that we had to get permission for a lot of minute details on the game, including the official spelling of El Psy Kongroo (not El Psy Congroo, even though some merchandise was accidentally released with that spelling). The company is trying to do some interesting things with the IP in the West, since Steins;Gate is one of their major titles.


We have a license to sell the PC version, which we’re doing in shrink-wrapped package and download form, including the recently released “Steins;Gate The Best” reduce price version, and they’re trying to make a release on PS3 and Vita and do some other interesting things. Obviously we’d like to get permission to put the game on Steam, but we currently don’t have this from them currently.


So, in a nutshell, JAST USA have the license to sell Steins;Gate on PC in the West, but not to sell it on Steam, which counts as a separate platform.

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  • Try your best to ask them in the futur, we need to spread visual novel love on Steam :D

    • Kai2591

      Damn right!

    • ネオフォトン ~ Neo

      I’d buy it again just to have it on Steam.

      • If we have anything to do with a future Steam release, we’ll make sure people who bought our version get Steam keys for free, for what it’s worth. If they do something directly (without our involvement) that might not be possible.

      • Thanks for your support, and Merry (belated) Christmas!

  • Manny Being Manny

    Does 5pb not understand that just saying “Ok” to Steam would make them a lot more money?

    • Letrico

      Nope. Steam is not popular in Japan at all. It is hard to make them understand the western market which is exactly the reason why they pass it to JAST USA for localization and market sales but as the article mentioned, to make it to steam, they have to contact all the owner of the title AND convince all of them to put it up to Steam which most likely will be refused as they do not understand wth is Steam.

      • Manny Being Manny

        I guess they’re ok with just putting it on some obscure 18+ website and selling a couple thousand copies

        • Letrico

          Not sure if you been to JAST USA website, by default it sells normal visual novel and you can choose to go to the 18+ sites to purchase eroge.

          Just because they have the option for people to buy eroge in a separate page does not mean it is some obscure 18+ website.

          Not to mention, it has already sold really well in Japan and they have profit enough and they are just trying to reach to the Western Market.

          But of course you are right, Steam would give them bigger sales but I think their infrastructure doesn’t really work that well with Steam integration? I bought steins gate and the redeem process was weird.

      • dark_ogamiya

        It wasn’t popular few years ago, but recently there’s MANY ports of console games on steam. And in most cases they don’t say “avaible on PC”, but “avaible on Steam” (like MGSV, VC, Neptunia, FFXIII). So, I think that steam is pretty popular among publishers in Japan nowadays.

      • DividedSeraph

        Isn’t the proof in the pudding in regards to Falcom’s success? They can’t be that ignorant.

    • Fox

      Most Japanese companies simply have no idea how to handle digital distribution, and many insist on pretending it does not exist. Like Kodansha.

  • Kai2591


  • David García Abril

    Any word of an English ANDROID version?

    • There is an unofficial patch somewhere on the Internet, but’s that it so far.

  • Kyouraku

    “…including the official spelling of El Psy Kongroo (not El Psy Congroo…”
    I still remember when Peter realized that from a Facebook post. That was classic.

  • Göran Isacson

    El Psy Kongroo is spelled with a “k”. MY LIFE IS A LIE.

    That aside, eesh. I hope they work things out soon and manage to get it on Steam, that really is where the PC market is at in the west and the sooner the various rights holders realize there’s where the money is, the better.

    • ネオフォトン ~ Neo

      I’ve spent years assuming it was “Congroo” as well…

      That bit of information just blew me away.

    • Yep. Among other things “epk” is in in Rintarou’s email address, and the company specifically told us to use that spelling.

      • Göran Isacson

        … That’s really one of those things that you beat yourself up for in hindsight because it feels so logical, and yet you didn’t see it.

  • Your Face

    So even journalists are port begging for Steam?

    Valve fanboyism is amazing.

    • Nicholas Perry

      Excuse people for wanting a deserving title to reach a bigger audience. By large and all, to a very big portion of PC users, Steam IS the PC market and nothing else.

      • Giordan

        Excuse us for not wanting “PC master race” douchebags saying “OH THIS IS ONLY 30FPS!!!!!!!!!”

        • Nicholas Perry

          30FPS is largely irrelevant for a Visual Novel.

          For many other kinds of games it makes a HUGE difference. There’s a REASON why fighting games are all 60FPS for example

          • Giordan

            I’m pretty sure DBZ Budokai isn’t 60fps

        • All right, that’s enough. Knock it off. You won’t be warned again. You did the same thing in the comments of the Neptunia report, too.

          • Giordan

            I’m being serious.

      • Your Face

        And that’s a big problem. This game is already available on PC, and acting like it’s not without a Steam release is just stupid. Allowing (and even wishing for) Valve to monopolize the PC market negates some of the very advantages the PC has over other mediums.

        It’s a product of sheer fanboyism, as is the whole “GabeN” meme, among others. The Valve cult is seriously the worst group of fanboys in gaming right now. Worse than Microsoft fanboys, worse than Sony fanboys, and worse than Nintendo fanboys.

        • Woot Woot

          Get your history right. PC gaming was not only dying, it was dead before steam came into popularity. Remember the early to mid 2000s? I doubt you do. But I remembered those darkest hours for PC gaming. Even the most widely released multiplatform games does not grace the PC platform for it is perceived to be a den of piracy. Remember enslaved being released on PC in 2010? No you don’t, because it never got a PC release until last year when Bandai decided steam was a viable platform. Remember Dynasty warriors being released on PC in the west? No you dont. because it was not until last year KOEI TECMO decided steam and by extension PC was a viable platform. Remember DOA or FF13 or on PC?

          I don’t really care if you don’t like steam and you prefer your games to be DRM free. Option is a always a good thing. I would not be at all upset when a steam games go DRM free.

          But to call white black, and to distort history to support your inflammatory argument is something i cannot stand.

          Also, take a look at your comment and mine and see for yourself who is the fanboy that is harboring malice and ill will on other people’s platform of choice?

          • I couldn’t help but upvote this. I didn’t know any of this info and I personally haven’t PC game’d since the early 2000’s but i remember a time when I would spend hours on certain game(s) for the PC and think nothing of what was posted on here.

            PS2 came out and bam, that was all she wrote.

      • Yes, Steam is huge. It’s funny, from our point of view, to see some people wanting a DRMed game over our DRM-free release. The world can be a strange place. ^^

    • Woot Woot

      Except this “port” takes an intern 2 hours to do with only red tapes being in the way.

      • Your Face

        It’s still shameful begging. Why so many people seemingly want to funnel money towards a company that doesn’t invest any of it back into gaming (other than researching new ways to get their whales to waste money on hats) I’ll never know, but it’s harmful for PC gaming, and gaming as a whole to act like the game isn’t already on PC.

        • Morricane

          Yeah, but Steam would give the game more exposure to random people who don’t know it *is* available.

          • Your Face

            This doesn’t really even apply anymore. Opening up and allowing more games in hurt Steam’s ability to bring attention to interesting, smaller games.

            Nowadays something like PSN is a better place for that.

      • Ouch My Head Said Dionysus

        Work for Steam, do you? You seem to know a lot about what little work this would be for an unskilled employee.

  • NegativeZero

    It’s not and has never been an 18+ game (it was originally developed for Xbox 360!) so there’s no reason content-wise why the PC version JAST licensed couldn’t be on Steam. It’s just probably a case of Nitro+ not wanting to put the work in to get it integrated properly. I don’t know if this applies to JAST specifically, but most localization companies don’t have any programmers on staff, and the localized release has to be developed by the original Japanese developer, so they have to have the time and money to do that.

    I’d be stunned if it doesn’t happen eventually, especially if the Vita & PS3 release does well.

    • Ace Trainer Chris

      They already explained what the issue is – several different Japanese companies involved with the license that have it set so that JAST can only release it physically and on their own site digitally.

    • Mainly, if there’s a way to make business decisions more complex than they have to be, the Japanese will make sure to do it. Among other things, any platform change requires a large payoff to voice actor studios for the rights.

      • Göran Isacson

        I’ve heard that money issues often arise when it comes to Japanese voice tracks and that it’s the reason you don’t always see JRPG’s get a dual-audio release, but this is the first time I hear that voice actor studios demand extra money for platform changes. Is it something you’ve personal experience with, or something you’ve seen happen to others?

    • Skat

      Not sure what being developed for Xbox 360 has to do with being 18+, but if you read the article, it’s because multiple Japanese companies were involved with the development of the game, so it’s not necessarily a licensing issue for JAST as much as they need permission from all the Japanese companies to release on Steam.

  • Blick Winkel

    MAGES. is no stranger to digital distribution.

  • Kornelious

    Well I at least hope they can release it physically for the PS3 and Vita versions….

  • SirRichard

    I’d say it’s just a matter of time; if they’re intent on making something of the IP over here, then Steam’s an obvious platform to aim for.

    Interested in what they’re wanting to do; by the way he puts it, they’ve more plans for it yet. Probably needs the PS3/V release to take off, though.

  • CozyAndWarm

    Why not Nintendo platforms as well?

    And as long as it’s already on PC, I don’t see why port-begging for Steam is needed. What important things would a Steam release add that the regular PC release doesn’t already have?

    • Morricane

      Because the game was never ported to Nintendo platforms?

      …ah now I see what you meant :D nevermind

    • Jeremy Barnes

      being *ON* steam…the largest and most convenient digital marketplace for PC games

    • Skat

      I’m not sure why you’re bringing up Nintendo platforms, these are just English localizations of already existing Japanese ports.

      Considering Steins;Gate has never been on a Nintendo platform in Japan, your request isn’t all that relevant to the article.
      It’d have to be ported by Mages and Nitroplus first

  • Alexandra Cordes

    Biscuits and gravy. This could get a lot more people to become aware of actually good visual novels on Steam being a thing.

  • Greg

    I could have sworn they had announced that it would be coming to Steam, therefore I was waiting for it’s Steam release. I should have noticed it was odd that it wasn’t released yet.

    • Heath Bunch

      You should just get it directly from their site, cause if you got it from Steam, Valve would get a 30% cut of the profits for doing nothing more than adding it to their list.

      • Greg

        True, and if it does release on Steam anyway there would usually be a free Steam key for those who bought it from the site, at least that’s the practice for Mangagamer for persons who want the uncensored visual novels (so I’ve been told).

  • Heath Bunch

    I guess it might get a bit more exposure on Steam, but its already available physically and digitally….For what its worth, I got the L.E. when it released, cause, hey….Its friggin’ Steins;Gate! Much love to JAST for bringing over something I never thought we’d see in the west.

  • Setsu Oh

    yay. what killed star trek strikes again!

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