Note: Most of the links presented in this article on Kimochi will take users to adult-oriented websites. The highly NSFW nature of these links means the reader should exercise caution before clicking. However, this article does not feature graphic NSFW images or descriptions of game content.
The world of video games is always expanding, and one of the most surprising trends over the past few years has been an increasing acceptance of games with adult content. No, I don’t mean violence and gore as that stuff has generally always been deemed acceptable in the gaming context. Instead, this is specifically regarding sexual content within them. Big companies have dipped their toe in the water with sexual romance scenes and are continuing to do so. However, the biggest push is within indie and visual novel communities which are more than willing to fully explore these concepts. The main issue plaguing small teams, of course, is a matter of funding.
Kickstarter has had an on and off relationship with accepting adult content onto their service. At times, 18+ games such as Coming Out on Top have made it through with no issue. In other instances, simply offering 18+ goods for rewards (such as the infamous dakimakura pillow cover for Grisaia) was deemed too hot for Kickstarter. IndieGogo, while more open, simply lacks the attention required to get tons of gamers involved. Fig.co is such an exclusive crowdfunding site that it’s very unlikely any pure visual novel will ever make its way onto the service. Patreon is generally the best bet for some creators but also comes with its own issues such as discoverability and keeping content from leaking out for free.
Enter Kimochi. Instead of offering a confusing stance on adult products such as Kickstarter, or simply allowing them to exist like on Patreon, Kimochi is focused exclusively on adult video games. If you go to the site then you absolutely know what you’re in for. Those who wish to fund their adult games also know that this is a place for them to feel safe about crowdfunding their products. Sure, they do have a few rules about what content is considered too extreme, but these few rules are to be expected so that Kimochi doesn’t wind up in serious legal trouble. Beyond that, there are no fees taken by the website itself (only payment processors) meaning the platform currently has a leg up on any other offering in regards to costs.
— nutakugames (@nutakugames) February 8, 2017
Where it currently falters is in regards to public awareness. Visual novel fans may remember that Kimochi was once the name of a digital distribution site/client primarily for adult video games. It shuttered and was then bought by the ever-expanding Nutaku. Nutaku provides web-based and downloadable adult games for folks to enjoy and has a tremendous fanbase. Despite that, the fanbase has yet to really be alerted as to Kimochi’s existence as a crowdfunding site. Since the soft launch back in January, Nutaku have only explicitly spoken about the crowdfunding site once on Twitter. Every so often they also retweet a post about a campaign, but that alone might not get the Kimochi brand cemented in people’s minds.
It appears the people really into all this are aware of Kimochi, though. Since launch 15 campaigns have made their way onto the site and 10 have since concluded. Some absolutely smashed their funding goals while others failed to do so. However, there’s one more wrinkle in the world of Kimochi. Much like IndieGogo, you can set the funding mode to “all or nothing,” “keep it all,” or “continuous.” The “keep it all” option has so far been used in 87% of projects on Kimochi and definitely saved a few folks in the short term. Of the initial 10 games, 9 opted to play it safe. Perhaps this is due to the site’s newness and a fear that people would not back projects. Or perhaps developers simply love the concept of keeping any money raised, even though it will likely mean a longer development cycle overall.
Who is really raking it in on Kimochi thus far? Perhaps it’s not surprising, but serial Kickstarter user AJ Tilley is utilizing the platform with multiple sub studios (while simultaneously managing multiple Kickstarter campaigns). That includes the games Alexa’s Wild Night by StudioX, Battle Girls – Extended Adult Content by Dharker Studios, and Echo Tokyo: Phoenix – Adult Content by Echo Tokyo Team. This empire simply can’t be stopped apparently as all three of these games were successfully funded over their goal amounts. The most impressive success of the trio is Alexa’s Wild Night, which asked for $5,000 in funding and raised $7,176 by the end. Beyond these, only two other projects actually fully met their funding goals thus far.
Those games include Karmasutra, which raised 268% of its $1,500 goal, and Ecchi Sketch, which raised 124% of its $500 goal. Other projects such as Dimlight City: Brothel Builder, Episicava, GIRLS ON TANKS, Adventure High, and Hellscape – Scelus Empire barely hovered around attaining 20% of their respective goals. TsukiWare’s dual campaign for yuri titles Five Hearts and Virtual Ro:Mance is still funding at the time of this writing but seems it will absolutely make its $3,000 goal in the next week. With that said, it did take a campaign extension to get them to the 98% their funded amount currently sits at. Unfortunately, the other 3 projects ending by April don’t seem to be in such a favorable position right now. Only one project opted for the “continuous” funding method so far – Phantasma Magic: Deluxe with a $30,000 goal. Speaking of goals, that also happens to be the highest goal asked on Kimochi thus far. The lowest, on the other hand, was Ecchi Sketch’s $500.
Of just 15 projects available for analysis at the moment, the average funding goal is $6,700. There’s actually not any standard funding period as it ranges from 12 days up to 61 (ignoring the continuous option). On average, a project runs on Kimochi for 38 days. Looking at backer counts reveals that the site is absolutely still a very niche thing right now. In total, there’s only a potential max participating backer count of 1010. The average backer for finished projects so far is 101, but that ranges from a minuscule 19 to 230 per campaign. Again, this includes those “keep it all” projects which otherwise only attained a small portion of their goal.
There’s a few worrying trends already cropping up early on in the crowdfunding site’s lifespan. When it comes to projects that only raise a small sum, that’s obviously not enough to fully make a game. If so, they wouldn’t have asked for the goals they did! But when this happens, a few developers have jumped back to Kickstarter. For example, Forest Fortress is currently running on Kimochi and Kickstarter now. Whereas it only has 14 backers and $380 currently on Kimochi, it has gained $632 and 45 backers on Kickstarter. There’s no rule against this, but shows that some don’t have faith in the Kimochi community. This makes total sense because the community is still so small.
The other fear is much more critical. Does Kimochi have a future? Initially, it felt like projects were absolutely pouring in after the initial launch batch of 8 titles. However, no new project has arrived on the site since Forest Fortress did on February 15. Come next week, that will be a month with no new projects jumping onto the site. Folks unfamiliar with the realm of adult games may think that’s normal – but there are actually tons of adult projects coming out all the time. They just aren’t hopping on board with Kimochi. Is it due to the fact that folks do not trust the site yet? Or perhaps it is still a matter of having not even heard of it.
No matter what, unless you’re a known quantity with rabid fanbase to begin with, it appears that there is definitely a good deal of uncertainty surrounding this crowdfunding site’s future. For some, it may be more worth the risk of getting kicked off Kickstarter just to utilize that site’s massive inbuilt audience. Everyone already has a Kickstarter account and (mostly) feels safe about it. Far fewer folks are prepared to register on Kimochi and pay for projects through this new site.
So far, Kimochi has helped these successful projects raise $26,480 (before payment processor fees). That’s not a ton when we look at the millions raised on Kickstarter games over the years. With that said, this is the first year and first months of the service. It can’t be expected to compete with the big guys right out of the gate. It’s also unlikely to ever draw in as large of crowds due to the niche nature of explicit adult video games. Hopefully we will see more creators actually utilize the site in the future. If not, then who knows how long Kimochi will survive – especially with their current focus on offering a completely free platform. My hope is that the site grows and thrives. A space like this is needed to allow creative freedom without fear of losing funding because of it.