5pb have been publishing games since 2007, but it wasn’t until the breakout successes of Chaos;Head and Steins;Gate that they really put themselves on the map. Developed in collaboration with Nitroplus, both games have gradually grown into strong brands with anime series, novels, and all the merchandise you’d expect to see associated with a recognizable hit.
We asked 5pb founder and executive director, Chiyomaru Shikura, why he felt the two games have managed to find success when so many other visual novels in Japan have had a hard time getting off the ground the same way in recent years.
Shikura believes this has to do with relatability. “The Japanese may like fantasy, but actually they also love reality,” Shikura said, speaking to Siliconera. “If you can create a story, complete with terror and joy, within the confines of reality, you can make it feel more relatable. The setting and situations are events that can happen in everyday life. “
Shikura says he personally has a hard time buying into fantasy, and he isn’t necessarily convinced that other people can be excited for exaggerated fantasy stories either.
“I don’t believe anyone who says they can become passionate over a super, over-the-top fictional story ‘taking place in Year XXXX, on Planet Y’. (laughs) It just means that there are an unexpectedly large amount of people who share my opinion,” Shikura says.
He added: “Chaos;Head takes place right here [in reality] in Shibuya, and Steins;Gate in Akihabara. I hope these games function as travel guides too!”