The Mobage Divide

The thought process is this.

The future of gaming in Japan is free-to-play mobile games where monetization model is based on the gacha. Fundamentally, these forms of games are not really being pioneered in the western market to mainstream gamers. These games are the norm for the “casual” segment, as witnessed by the various chart-topping Android and iOS titles, but usually these games fall outside of the “gamer” segment.

Why this is happening and other related notions as to this ongoing development interests me, but it is a side track. The thought continues that, if today’s ever-competitive seiyuu industry now employs a lot of new talents to voice these free-to-play games, eventually there will be a large crop of seiyuu whose most famous works are exclusive to F2P games that never gets localized outside of Asia, or even outside of Japan. There are already some cases where all the notable work for a seiyuu (especially for male seiyuu) are for mobage.

Shipping a localized F2P game overseas is tough for various reasons. For one, localization of F2P games are a major task–localization outfits are supporting platforms, not just another release that will ship and then they can move on to another title. It wouldn’t be far fetched to see a localization company release just one or two platform games across most of its resources for a year or more. There are not a truck load of companies doing it, although if there is money to be made, there will also a case to be made there; such as what’s happening over at Nutaku, the English-language arm of DMM’s ero branch (I guess).

At the same time, F2P titles are good work for seiyuu because they typically don’t end after 12 or 24 or even 52 episodes later. It provides some continuing work and F2P titles generally drive gacha via characters, and to sustain gacha variety, F2P games typically employs a lot of different seiyuu to create a lot of different characters. The games usually also have more flexible demands on voice recording, plus on average the rates are better for games than anime. Perhaps on a pure headcount perspective, anime still hires a lot more seiyuu off the bat, as games tend to start with a dozen or two and grow over time, but generally game jobs are more desirable.

All of this, is just to say, that no wonder Matsui Eriko’s most famous role gets no nod here. On a higher level, it addresses the gap as mentioned here, the social game generation. It’s not to say anime of popular social games don’t get made, and they clearly do, but for fans clamoring for anime seiyuu of a certain variety (especially if you dig a certain dude), it could be very hard to justify it to an oversea con committee, as the male anime voice roles tend to be dominated by a select few, and there aren’t too many of them to go around in the first place.

Maybe this is why all these people are trying the solo debut route.


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