MangaGamer have revealed that they will be stripping their upcoming release of top yuri eroge Koihime Musou of all voicing, in spite of earlier assurances to the contrary – however, they generously offer a 5 euro discount and promise they will add the voices back if enough people happen to buy the game, the release of which they have also delayed by 6 months.
In an astonishing display of commercial incompetence, it appears they did not obtain the rights to the voices at project start, and this coupled with a display of the intractability Japanese eroge companies are notorious for has led to them being forced to strip the game of its extensive character voicing:
Our localization of Koihime Musou has been largely funded by Nexton, the company to which BaseSon themselves belong.
As such, a majority of the money earned by this game will be going directly back to them, the creators themselves. However, this means that they are also shouldering the majority of the costs associated with the release, a key one being voices.
With its large array of around 25 different fully voiced characters, many of which are top-tier voice actors in the Japanese visual novel and anime industries including Norio Wakamoto, Takehito Koyasu, Midorikawa Hikaru, Motoyama Mina, Aoyama Yukari, Hokuto Minami, Maki Izumi, Kazane, and far more (almost all, if not every voice actor for the game went on to play their respect role in the anime, though under a different name) – the costs involved in licensing the voices is great indeed.
Being a partner of our company, Nexton looked at our current sales and made the decision that the cost of the voices was unfortunately too much for them given the prospects. As such, our release of Koihime will initially be sold without the voices, and likewise, the demo unvoiced as well.
MangaGamer is silent as to just why the voice rights were not secured at the start of the project – such an oversight seems only explicable through sheer incompetence or duplicity.
Meanwhile, Nexton apparently believes they will secure more in licensing revenue by ruining the release of the title and receiving nothing than by taking whatever they can get now and hoping a market for their many sequels emerges in future – observers could almost be forgiven for thinking they want the project to fail.
MangaGamer does assure potential buyers that the (“over-18″) loli/shota elements present in the original will be present as in the original, and of course that the game will be free of mosaics for the first time.
In an effort to rescue the release, they do however magnanimously offer a 5 euro price drop, and the promise of restoring the voices – if the game sells well enough:
We realize what a shame this is, and as a show of apology we will be lowering the price of the game from our originally intended 44.95Euro to around 39.95Euro.
However, all is not lost either. We at MangaGamer discussed this issue with Nexton at great length, and Nexton agreed with us that they would like to be able to release the game with voices as well if it’s at all possible.
As such, we negotiated terms with Nexton and reached an agreement: if over 2,000 copies are sold, a patch will be released and the voices WILL be added back in.
It means that if, say, every one of our forum users gets two or three friends to buy the game as well, then despite the original release being unvoiced, the voices will be added back in for everybody, but it all depends on YOU.
We’ve done what we can, now the ball is in your court.
MangaGamer refuse to either disclose sales details of any of their titles or comment on the likelihood of one of their games reaching 2,000 copies sold – with the game now being sold in incomplete form at nearly full price the chances of them reaching even this low threshold are presumably much reduced.
Fans are predictably less than delighted at this treatment:
“This is truly dreadful news.
How much of a chance does Koihime fair in selling over 2000 copies? I don’t want to talk bad about your parent company but they don’t understand how this market works. You have to GIVE in order to create a market. It doesn’t pop up out of thin air.”
“So are you giving the chance to the ppl that don’t buy your games (aka piracy) take the chance to download the game on the net and wait for someone make an unofficial voice patch for free?”
“Without voice acting they don’t have a market at all.”
“Well done Nexton, I hope you enjoy your 100 copy sales.
This is one of the worst ideas I have ever had the displeasure of hearing about. Even if it succeeds, the other MG companies will likely pull this shit as well, making everything worse.
Maybe I’ll buy it once someone makes an unofficial voice patch (which will likely happen within 24 hours of the release).
Also, if the voices are so expensive, why was the price only lowered by 5 euros? I don’t think I’d be getting my money’s worth there.”
“The market isn’t there for 2000 copies whichever way you slice it and you can bet the people who were on the fence about buying it will now just pirate it.
A sad day indeed.”
“Voices are a huge part of the experience of vns, especially of this game where the voices were one of the best parts of it.
2000 sales will most certainly never be reached. What will happen is most people will hold off on their purchase to see if the game ever hits 2000, or they will pirate the game and get the unofficial voice pack.”
“Holy cow. Answer me this seriously, did MangaGamer ever got to sell 2000 copies of ONE game?”
“You’re asking us to take the risk here when for all we know no Mangagamer title has ever sold that much (and Koihime is unlikely to be the first!).
Given that the whole issue is that they looked at your sales and went ‘woah, wait a second, way too low’ doesn’t give me any reason to be hopeful.
I’m not going to buy something in the distant hope that I’ll *eventually* get the desired product, rather than a crippled product.
And the fact that this was not worked out and put into a contract and is only revealed this close to release is just insane. So for your next visual novel, might we find out that a couple routes got cut a month before launch because you weren’t going to sell enough?”
“Well I know 2 people who were looking forward to this bar me, and one of their lines is ‘I’m not paying for an incomplete game – they can —- off.’
The other one was ‘errr I’ll play wow instead.’
I’d expect that to be the response of over 50% of the people that were contemplating buying it.
I think he sums it up best with:
‘The fact of the matter is there’s no market for it, and what little market there is really doesn’t appreciate things like getting a ****** “lite” version of the game’
To be honest I don’t know if I’ll bother buying it now, it’s slipped below playing FFXIV and Recettear for things to do with my time. I rarely play games twice so I either wait and see if the game gets voiced or I don’t play it. It’s a shame, but hey it’s not my loss.”
Voices lost, will not be back,
Cause the Nexton hates us filthy gaijins.”
With MangaGamer originally having made their debut with a series of notoriously bad “Engrish” releases, it would appear their relaunch and astonishing decision to employ actual foreigners when attempting to sell to the barbarian markets has still not overcome the disadvantages of being run by a consortium of clueless Japanese eroge companies.
As if all this were not enough, the release has reportedly been delayed to February 2011 – debugging a silent slideshow is apparently harder than it looks.