Earlier today I was browsing twitter, and saw Herkz who helped work on Grisaia for Sekai Project post this particular comment about the new release of The Labyrinth of Grisaia which is the sequel to Fruit of Grisaia.
i personally would wait for the 18+ version even if you skip all the porn. a few new CGs isn’t really worth it if you ask me.
— herkz (@herkzzz) June 22, 2016
Now this is a pretty interesting comment as you have one of the primary translators and ultimately someone who is well aware of the kind of content cuts that went into this game essentially telling the over-all populace and fan base that personally they would skip out on their employers own release and wait for the 18+ uncensored version. This stimulated a thought process which had me asking is it honestly really worth it to create a censored version of the game for mass release that prevents the existence of a full uncensored title or comes out significantly earlier than the uncensored version?
As such I’m going to be using the examples of three separate titles with different types of censorship and listing lessons I think can be learned from each particular instance. These titles are Monster Monpiece, If my Heart had Wings, and finally The Fruit of Grisaia.
Starting with Monster Monpiece this was a complete and utter travesty. Idea Factory International who previously had worked with companies such as Nippon Ichi Software America in order to get their games published in the United States and elsewhere attempted to localize and release this particular title on their own. What they did in order to circumvent what they felt would be a potential ban or adults only rating on this title was to change major aspects of the ‘rubbing’ mini-game by removing the monster cards in the game that depicted what was considered or could be perceived as underage characters.
What kind of backlash did removing 40+ cards in a game with only 350+ cards have? Widespread outrage on several forums such as NEOGAF and Gamefaqs. were responded to by explanations and attempts by Idea Factory International in order to placate their fanbase and convince fans that they had no choice but to censor the game if they wanted to achieve a release. However, they censored the game ‘before’ even attempting to get a pass without censorship through the ESRB. Typically game companies make an attempt to get through the ESRB and then make changes as necessary in order to get the rating they desired. Ultimately Monster Monpiece suffered from lackluster sales, and is largely forgotten besides the story about it’s censorship.
If my Heart Had Wings is another example of widespread censorship on a title, and no official response that backed up the problems that came about due to this censorship. The list of censored content includes Sex Scenes, Kissing Scenes, Suggestive scenes, and phrasing was changed to alter and lower the target age of the audience. In addition an entire route (Ageha’s route) for the game was removed and rewritten for the game.
A near immediate response to this was general outrage from the over-all community in terms of the general butchering and total re-purposing of the game where-in it is essentially a totally different game. Soon after came about a content restoration patch that restored the removed and heavily altered content from the game and essentially created what the game should have been. Ultimately this is probably one of the worst examples of what you can do in terms of censorship. This essentially ruins the potential impact of a visual novel or game that is anticipated and then tells the community we don’t really care that you wanted the original incarnation of the visual novel we’re going to take the stock content and mass re-purpose it to create something completely different. Essentially this pushes the burden of ‘fixing’ the title to the community in order to create an actual English version of the game.
The content restoration patch and how to install it for If my Heart Had Wings can be found here: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=501001760
The Fruit of Grisaia was a game that previously had a fan translation and was picked up by Sekai Project who intends to release a full set of translations for all of the Grisaia games. They ended up creating an all ages version of the game for steam that removed the 18+ content from the PC version and replaced it with CGs and content from the PSP release of Fruit of Grisaia in Japan. In addition the official release of the 18+ title was delayed until well after the release of the all ages version of the game. Resulting in the only alternative to getting the 18+ version being waiting or just accepting the all ages version.
Over-all fan reaction seems to be general apathy towards having to wait for the 18+ version, mixed with acceptance towards having an all ages version of the game. This is a more acceptable version of censorship, but would likely have been improved with a simultaneous release of the 18+ version and the all ages version at the same time.
So, when it comes to the topic of censoring it seems that the best approach would be if you’re pushing for an all ages version of an originally 18+ title try and make a translated version of the 18+ title available at around the same time as the All Ages + release.