There’s a new visual novel publisher on the block, and you may have heard of them. They call themselves MoeNovel, and their first English release is a game titled If My Heart Had Wings, which is one of the few HD visual novels to be translated and released in the west.
MoeNovel even went to the extent of having the game rated by both the ESRB in America and the PEGI in Europe, making a concentrated effort to go through the same channels that regular games do, in order to encourage the image of a more “mainstream” visual novel.
Now that the publisher has released their first game, the question that remains is: will we see more? It’s all too easy to underestimate just how hard it can be to find success in the western visual novel market, and so, we caught up with MoeNovel producer Fujisan to ask what the publisher’s future plans are.
One of the questions I asked Fujisan was about the difficulties of breaking into the western market, and how that affects the company’s future. Is If My Heart Had Wings a one-time deal, or are MoeNovel in this for the long haul?
As it turns out, MoeNovel seem well aware of the difficulties associated with the west.
“In working on this project, of course I discussed this with many industry people, but I was repeatedly told, over and over, that ‘The Western market is difficult’,” Fujisan replied to my question. “Thinking of it business-wise, I’m sure it’s not uncommon to not see any results for a long time, and we have to move projects along somewhat blindly, so I’m sure it won’t be easy.”
“I fully understand that this isn’t going to be an easy ride. But our number one motivation is in wanting people all over the world to know about the Japanese-born game genre known as visual novels. Business is important, too, but that motivation is stronger. Rather than quitting because we hear that the Western market is a difficult, we’re going to give it a try. We at MoeNovel really take this to heart.”
So, why the focus on HD games in particular? Because MoeNovel feel that the west is being deprived of visual novels with high-resolution visuals, and in an age where even smartphones have high-res screens, they feel this is an oversight.
“The reason we’re sticking to high resolution graphic visual novels is because of the changing user environment,” Fujisan explains. “Nowadays even smart phones have high-resolutions, and PC monitor resolutions continue to get better as well. Amidst such circumstances, we thought that customers might feel unfortunate about being stuck with titles in the 800 x 600 size resolution, so we decided to stick to high-resolution visual novels.”
“That’s not to say there aren’t interesting visual novel titles in the 800 x 600 resolution,” he went on to clarify. “MoeNovel runs on the idea that it wants to spread to visual novel genre to people that might not know about it, so it’s not as though we’re only going to release high-resolution visual novels like If My Heart Had Wings. If there are any titles that we really feel we want people from around the world to play, there’s always the possibility that we might release such titles even if they aren’t high-resolution.”
We’ll have more from MoeNovel about their views on the western visual novel market in the near future.