Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sekai Project launches Kickstarter preorder store for Chrono Clock

Sekai Project has boldly launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund merchandise for upcoming title Chrono Clock. I discuss my initial reaction.

I've criticized Sekai Project and others in the past for relying on Kickstarter to fund eroge (Crowdfunding visual novel localization: An eroge enthusiast's perspective).  Today Sekai Project has launched its Kickstarter campaign for Chrono Clock by Purple Software (VNDB).

I won't dwell on the merits of the game itself (read the Kickstarter page and Clephas's review series for that).  Instead I'll focus on the points that caught my attention.

My highlights:
  1. Chrono Clock is getting an 18+ release.
  2. The 18+ digital release is being distributed by Nutaku. This may indicate a change in policy, and the Denpasoft digital store may be phased out (edit: Sekai Project denies this).
  3. Sekai Project has repurposed Kickstarter to sell limited edition merchandise. Ironically, this is probably the purest distillation of what VN backers expect from these crowdfunding projects.
  4. The minimum tier for a hardcopy is $125 (wut).
Sekai Project has addressed two of the principled objections I might have had to this campaign: profiting while backers assume all risk and concerns about censorship.

However, accusations have been leveled that the game scenario was designed around excisable ero content to facilitate a non-adult release, despite this running counter to the developer's design philosophy and record, and that this design decision has been harshly criticized by Purple Software's Japanese fans. It appears that the English market may be tainting the very creative process that gives rise to the sorts of erotic games with tightly integrated sexual themes that I appreciate, and that's concerning.

Despite my reservations about this particular title, a hardcopy / LE pre-order campaign is, in principle, superior to MangaGamer's current policy of using digital sales milestones to decide which games get hardcopies and when. It may be an abuse of Kickstarter, but consumers benefit so I don't see a problem.

However, the theoretical advantages of a hardcopy pre-order store are dampened by the minimum tier for a physical copy being $125.  The whole point of setting a campaign goal / volume minimum is to finance a minimum print run, which allows hard copies to be pressed economically without the danger of having a large stash of unsold hard copies that just sit around taking up valuable space.  Sekai Project has an innovative idea here, but the implementation needs improvement.

A Sekai Project spokesperson has posted in a Reddit thread explaining the rationale for the campaign, and may respond to further comments.

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