VNs Now has been operating for eight years. This year, I really took a step back and looked at the bigger picture. It’s so easy to look at some barely functioning, badly written tripe that decided to slap some over-sized tits on itself and rage against it. It is much, much harder to look into the abyss of the culture it came from and not blink. I’m currently working on a story that is an example of how deep the corruption has gone. It isn’t just an individual developer: It is cultural. So many people inside of this small corner of the Internet simply do not know how to make money at best. At worst, they hate themselves for wanting to make money and instead want someone else to just give them something, anything to replace the natural inclinations that come with hard work.
As I write this, over $1 Million has been raised for various visual novels and, until proven others, that money has fallen into an empty hole with nothing to show for it. Once promising partnerships have been devastated. Good actors who see opportunities here are being criticized while bad actors are celebrated even as they mistreat their contractors, lie to their audience and pump out garbage-tier work at best. Statistically, this is the Best of Times and the Worst of Times. For those who know what they’re doing, making a visual novel can be very successful. For those that don’t, the toxicity of their mistakes not only destroys them, but anyone who mistakenly trusted them.
So, where does that place me? How can I best push back against the darkness?
I don’t know.
When I started VNs Now, I was just a kid coming out of college who had the time and the interest to follow this corner of gaming. Eight years have passed. I’ve made a ton of mistakes in how I’ve operated this site and burned people who didn’t deserve it in the name of my own pride. I’ve often called myself the EVN Devil jokingly: but it has a truthfulness behind it. I have been stubborn and foolish, but also naive and childish for a very long time: both on this site and in my personal life.
In 2019, I’ve started paying the costs of my sins and working to be a freakin’ adult. That includes taking a hard look at this site and being honest with myself at what I can realistically do here. For years, this has been a hobby and I’ve used it as an escape from my own responsibilities. Once I’ve stopped running from that, it put the site in a different light for me. I think the visual novel format is brilliant, and most of the developers and workers in this field are genuine and most people who are fans of the format just want a unique experience to have fun with. But, I also think that there is an undercurrent of apathy, corruption and abuse that makes it just as bad as some of the worst actors in AAA gaming. So far, this site has ignored that duality in favor of something much simpler because screaming at some badly written slop with oversized tits on it is much easier than digging into the legal weeds of some of this stuff.
Let me be clear: I currently have no plans to shut down VNs Now. But that is only because I haven’t decided what the next best option is. Between what I feel needs to be done and my current working schedule, my ability to deliver substance is not reliable. Therefore, I am giving myself the remainder of this year to do a honest assessment of what I can do here. As a part of this assessment, all of our operations, including reviews, features, podcasts, etc, are suspended. The sole exception is the news story I am currently working on. That will come out because it is a story that needs to be told. My Patreon campaign is also suspended and will shut down completely at the end of the year. I will come to a final decision around the same time and we’ll discuss it then. In the meantime, if you want good visual novel reviews, please support EVN Chronicles. He does a fantastic job and brings a fresh perspective to this subgenre. I often retweet from them as well as other reviewers from Hardcore Gamer, Nintendo Life and other spaces so please do not forget them as well. This space need more critical voices, not less.
Lastly, thank you to all of you. All of the readers of this site over the years, as well as the motley crew of artists I’ve met over the last eight years. And by ‘artists’ I mean not only the artists, but also the developers, writers, programmers, voice actors, publishers and so many more that I have met and made this part of my life so interesting. I sincerely hope I’ve done some good here and made the VN space a bit more interesting as well. And I hope I can deliver something that will improve the market for developers and readers alike: even a little bit. But if I can’t and these are the last days of VNs Now, I wouldn’t replace the experience I’ve had here for anything. I’ve had one of the best audiences in gaming for one of the best subgenres in gaming. I only wish I could have done more.
Thank you very much. I’ll see you guys around New Years when a decision will be made.