The creator of Touhou refuses to let anyone localize his games. Selfish or justified?

May 14, 2015
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Calling ZUN selfish is kinda weird when he lets the fanbase do pretty much whatever they want with the characters and setting, with a few tiny exceptions like "don't do anything illegal" and "hey if you want to sell touhou mugs or something tell me first okay". Touhou helped drive the doujin market for a long time, after all.

It would certainly be nice to be able to buy the games on Steam or something, but I can't really begrudge him for wanting to keep it so that only his hands touch the main releases.
 
Oct 17, 2011
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He's entitled to it since he created them.
I'm also entitled to talk shit about his choice to do so.
I mean, pretty much this? It's his, so it doesn't have to let anyone else touch the programming if he doesn't want to. Dick move in my eyes but that's my opinion on something not mine.
 
Feb 20, 2013
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I know, but I prefer the official traditional (well mostly) fighting ones like Scarlet Weather Rhapsody and Urban Legend of Limbo (I always forget the correct name).

And now that I think about it, if ZUN really does not care what fans do with his IP, what ever happened to that one Smash clone game for the Wii U? Wasnt there some controversy with thst one to the point it got cancelled?
There was also that one TCG on kickstarter that he has shut down but then again that was because it wasn't doujin in nature as they were raising money to do it.

I'd love an official release in the west and on multiple platforms but it's his games, let him do what he wants with it.
 
Aug 30, 2014
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If you wrote a long novel, do you think you should be able to prevent it from being translated if you wanted? Or would you be okay with somebody translating it for you, to a completely different language and culture even if you didn't want them to?

This question is pretty much at the crux of IP philosophy in general.

On one hand, from an strong IP perspective, he created it, and he owns it, and so obviously anything he says goes... he's not 'entitled' for limiting his audience, it's -you- that is 'entitled' for even suggesting he is selfish.

One the other hand, we have the idea that once we create something, it's owned by the public. We should be able to do with it as we will -- sample it [music], parody it, steal bits, make murals of Disney characters at preschools, translate it, even edit it [some religious groups want to edit down movies, for example]. Allow culture to easily build upon itself [The Grey Album, for example, but really, anything that samples], rather than locking anything down.

Historically, IP laws were quite loose. More recently [ever since Mickey almost went public domain, really], IP laws get tighter by the decade as corporations secure their franchises for all time. A big reason for this [besides profit, obviously], is that creations used to be associated with people who eventually died, and now creations are generally associated with corporations which want to profit off said IP forever. They lobby for changes which then trickle down to the individual creator.

Where you fall on the line defines your stance on IP laws in general. Tighter IP laws protect the artist at the cost of the public. Looser IP laws ensure creations enrich the public culturally at the potential cost to the artist.
 
Calling ZUN selfish is kinda weird when he lets the fanbase do pretty much whatever they want with the characters and setting, with a few tiny exceptions like "don't do anything illegal" and "hey if you want to sell touhou mugs or something tell me first okay". Touhou helped drive the doujin market for a long time, after all.

It would certainly be nice to be able to buy the games on Steam or something, but I can't really begrudge him for wanting to keep it so that only his hands touch the main releases.
When he has a very vocal fanbase that wants to play his games in English and they can't because he doesn't want them translated?

Selfish sounds about right, yeah.
 
Jan 19, 2010
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One the other hand, we have the idea that once we create something, it's owned by the public. We should be able to do with it as we will -- sample it [music], parody it, steal bits, make murals of Disney characters at preschools, translate it, even edit it [some religious groups want to edit down movies, for example]. Allow culture to easily build upon itself [The Grey Album, for example, but really, anything that samples], rather than locking anything down.
And when it comes down to it, ZUN does actually come closer to this, given how he's been pretty open about letting other people do all that with his stuff.

As a curiosity, since my knowledge of Touhou behind the scenes stuff is admittedly more limited than others in this discussion, while we know his stance on not wanting to arrange for official localizations, how has he been with unofficial translations? As it stands, the fan translations of 7 and 8 are actually how I really found out about the series to begin with, and them still being available make it seem like he's not actively/successfully sought to have them taken down.
 
Jul 7, 2008
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The only games on consoles in the west are lackluster fan-made spinoffs. The main series games are PC shmups that can be imported. I think one of them is for sale in the West though.
Yeah that's what my googling showed me. Just wanted to make sure though since I don't have a working PC currently :/

It's definitely his right, but I'd love to play these more easily.
 
Jul 10, 2013
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As a curiosity, since my knowledge of Touhou behind the scenes stuff is admittedly more limited than others in this discussion, while we know his stance on not wanting to arrange for official localizations, how has he been with unofficial translations? As it stands, the fan translations of 7 and 8 are actually how I really found out about the series to begin with, and them still being available make it seem like he's not actively/successfully sought to have them taken down.
A: There was a Touhou game brought to America by Playism titled Touhou 14: Double Dealing Character. However, this game didn’t receive an English translation, was this intentional?

Z: I’ve been very busy, so I think that’s the way it’s going to stay. There are fan-made patches though.

A: Do you support fan-made patches?

Z: As a rule, I would say, “no touching original stuff!” But on the other hand it makes it more accessible to more people. So I guess I’m okay with it. Yea, I know about it, but I wont go out of my way to do something about it.
 
May 17, 2014
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When he has a very vocal fanbase that wants to play his games in English and they can't because he doesn't want them translated?

Selfish sounds about right, yeah.
Well there's the catch.
1. Only a fraction of the Touhou fanbase actually cares about the games themselves.
2. The game fans aren't as vocal about localization as you think, because of the language barrier and because...
3. the games are already playable in English using unofficial patches that range from exceptionally high-quality to good enough.
A: There was a Touhou game brought to America by Playism titled Touhou 14: Double Dealing Character. However, this game didn't receive an English translation, was this intentional?

Z: I've been very busy, so I think that's the way it's going to stay. There are fan-made patches though.

A: Do you support fan-made patches?

Z: As a rule, I would say, ”no touching original stuff!" But on the other hand it makes it more accessible to more people. So I guess I'm okay with it. Yea, I know about it, but I wont go out of my way to do something about it.
Why should it even matter if Touhou is popular in the west anyways? Why does it matter if the series is misrepresented by fangames? Why does it matter that ZUN's leaving money on the table? Why doesn't ZUN hire a better artist? ZUN simply doesn't care about that stuff when he'd rather do other things like make games and other Touhou works.
I posted the below quotes in the touhou / switch thread yesterday but thought they should be here too...

"A: Would you ever be up for returning to older titles you've created and re-release them?

Z: There's a lot of requests for me to do this. However, I would rather spend my time creating something brand new instead of remaking something.

A: In the past you've had offers to have your games brought to digital download platforms, but You've refused up to this point, why is that?

Z: Making the game for me is funnest part, if I had to talk to people and tweak this and that for a digital download version, it would be a hassle for me and I would rather be making more games."
Is ZUN selfish when it comes to his games? Sure, whatever. Might as well ask why Toby Fox won't localize Undertale for Eastern audiences. bad analogy.
ZUN's one of the few game devs in the world who can claim to make games single-handedly without worrying about money, and I personally think that's commendable in this day and age.
 
Jan 19, 2010
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A: There was a Touhou game brought to America by Playism titled Touhou 14: Double Dealing Character. However, this game didn't receive an English translation, was this intentional?

Z: I've been very busy, so I think that's the way it's going to stay. There are fan-made patches though.

A: Do you support fan-made patches?

Z: As a rule, I would say, ”no touching original stuff!" But on the other hand it makes it more accessible to more people. So I guess I'm okay with it. Yea, I know about it, but I wont go out of my way to do something about it.
So basically, he wishes people wouldn't do fan translations, but won't do anything about it and is ultimately fine with it as long as it makes it more accessible to people outside of japan.

At which point, it seems like the only issue here is that he's just against his games being localized and sold by an outside party.
 
Aug 22, 2014
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Well there's the catch.
1. Only a fraction of the Touhou fanbase actually cares about the games themselves.
2. The game fans aren't as vocal about localization as you think, because of the language barrier and because...
3. the games are already playable in English using unofficial patches that range from exceptionally high-quality to good enough.
I just wanna say that first point hurts me because it's true. Not many people can even get into bullet hells in the first place, regardless of how easy they are relative to other offerings in the genre. It's unfortunate because I have so much fun playing them, but it is what it is.

And yeah, the fanbase has been doing just fine translating the works themselves for the last 15 years at least. Heck, people translated the bios in the readme.txt with the demo for the upcoming Touhou 16 within hours of release, and the majority of the fanbase was perfectly satisfied with that alone.

If you're that hungry for Touhou lore, if anything you should be campaigning for the localization of the Touhou print works. That's where like 85% of the lore comes from.
 
Is ZUN selfish when it comes to his games? Sure, whatever. Might as well ask why Toby Fox won't localize Undertale for Eastern audiences.
ZUN's one of the few game devs in the world who can claim to make games single-handedly without worrying about money, and I personally think that's commendable in this day and age.
You might have a good example if Toby notoriously shot every localization
company down who offered and Undertale fan works were being localized instead of the real thing.
 
May 17, 2014
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You might have a good example if Toby notoriously shot every localization
company down who offered and Undertale fan works were being localized instead of the real thing.
fair enough on the "shooting down" thing.

You titled the thread as if "selfish" and "justified" were mutually exclusive. I think it's both at the same time; "justified selfishness" if you will.
I wrote a book for fun and oh boy it got really popular somehow and oh gosh there's a fanbase in Russia and now publishers are knocking at my door but I really don't want to deal with them when all I wanted to do was write books for fun.

also what do the fanworks have to do with anything? They're fanworks, the people who make them can and do whatever they want (under ZUN's terms of use anyways).
If anything, the fanworks and terms of use demonstrate just how much ZUN just wants to make games and not have to deal with IP enforcement. At the same time, he has restrictions because he wants to keep his IP and stuff.

there's also the whole "keeping the doujin spirit alive" or something that's muddled in here as well.
 
Jan 6, 2005
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Several have, Playism namely. And they gave The Silver Case a fantastic localization. ZUN doesn't trust anyone.

And I agree with the sentiment that people releasing these awful doujin knockoffs is doing more harm than good, that's part of what I'm getting at. It's hurting the western image, because people think these fan games are Touhou, and the publishers don't do much to dissuade that impression because they want the brand recognition.
also what do the fanworks have to do with anything? They're fanworks, the people who make them can and do whatever they want (under ZUN's terms of use anyways).
If anything, the fanworks and terms of use demonstrate just how much ZUN just wants to make games and not have to deal with IP enforcement. At the same time, he has restrictions because he wants to keep his IP and stuff.

there's also the whole "keeping the doujin spirit alive" or something that's muddled in here as well.
Put another way, the pubs want the brand recognition of it being 2hu, but is this really Zun's problem if he agrees?
 
Dec 19, 2013
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He is completely fine in doing that. It's his work, so he can do whatever he wants with it. I just don't get those whiny entitled gamers, that want every medium they are interested in translated into their own language and released in their region. The OP goes even beyond that...
 
Feb 6, 2016
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He's obviously in his right to do whatever he pleases with his franchise, but that doesn't make it any less childish and selfish that he decides to handle it that way.

You could have a debate on IP owning and all that, but at the end of the day seeking to make your work avaible to as many people as possible is the standard and most obvious thing to do with you are a creator, and ZUN does the exact opposite, even when his work's popularity overseas has become such that companies like Playism approach him to offer their service.

As someone who used to be really into his games and got tired of having to resort to piracy to enjoy them, I got seriously pissed when Playism announced their release wasn't going to be translated, and finding out it was ZUN's fault and he had super petty motives only made it worse.

Calling ZUN selfish is kinda weird when he lets the fanbase do pretty much whatever they want with the characters and setting, with a few tiny exceptions like "don't do anything illegal" and "hey if you want to sell touhou mugs or something tell me first okay". Touhou helped drive the doujin market for a long time, after all.

It would certainly be nice to be able to buy the games on Steam or something, but I can't really begrudge him for wanting to keep it so that only his hands touch the main releases.
Correct me if I'm wrong (this is mostly from some article I read long ago about it), but isn't allowing fanworks to exist or to even be sold a pretty standard thing in Japan? I believe that's the reason doujinshis, unofficial porn games of popular japanese franchises and regular fangames are such a popular thing in Japan, so in that sense this isn't really a big deal... I mean I don't think /every/ IP holder allows this over there, but it isn't particularly strange when even companies like Capcom are okay with it. But I don't know, maybe I'm missing something.

Is ZUN selfish when it comes to his games? Sure, whatever. Might as well ask why Toby Fox won't localize Undertale for Eastern audiences.
ZUN's one of the few game devs in the world who can claim to make games single-handedly without worrying about money, and I personally think that's commendable in this day and age.
It's kinda ironic that you use Undertale especifically as an example because an official japanese localization is due this year, and it's being handled by Playism, the very same company that had to publish a Touhou game overseas untranslated because Zun didn't let them do it and he didn't want to oversee it either lol.

Still, even if that wasn't the case, it'd still not be the same because Undertale is already avaible in a lot of regions in a language that far more people speak than japanese, and Toby isn't actively turning companies down when they offer him to do the job. One thing is to not seek to localize your work and another is to avoid letting others do it.

He is completely fine in doing that. It's his work, so he can do whatever he wants with it. I just don't get those whiny entitled gamers, that want every medium they are interested in translated into their own language and released in their region. The OP goes even beyond that...
Yeah fans wanting him to say "sure" when Playism offer him to translate his games and pay him royalties for it while he can keep doing his own thing are absolutely out of their minds, what idiots, honestly...
 
Dec 19, 2013
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Yeah fans wanting him to say "sure" when Playism offer him to translate his games and pay him royalties for it while he can keep doing his own thing are absolutely out of their minds, what idiots, honestly...
And that is relevant in what way? For starters, it was a general statement I made, using this instance as a starting point. Second, I don't care how little or how much he needs to do to release a game of his as it has nothing to do with what I said. Third, trying to put words into my mouth won't help.
 
May 17, 2014
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You could have a debate on IP owning and all that, but at the end of the day seeking to make your work avaible to as many people as possible is the standard and most obvious thing to do with you are a creator, and ZUN does the exact opposite, even when his work's popularity overseas has become such that companies like Playism approach him to offer their service.
ZUN's priority as a creator is, uh, creating. He claims that he'll keep making Touhou games even if the fandom dies. Once you wrap your mind around the fact that "availability" is very low on ZUN's list of priorities, everything else about his decisions makes (more) sense.
It's kinda ironic that you use Undertale especifically as an example because an official japanese localization is due this year, and it's being handled by Playism, the very same company that had to publish a Touhou game overseas untranslated because Zun didn't let them do it and he didn't want to oversee it either lol.

Still, even if that wasn't the case, it'd still not be the same because Undertale is already avaible in a lot of regions in a language that far more people speak than japanese, and Toby isn't actively turning companies down when they offer him to do the job. One thing is to not seek to localize your work and another is to avoid letting others do it.
oops. Analogy retracted.

Remember, localization = more work and oversight. Toby Fox agreed to put in the work, and his tweet even says as much. ZUN doesn't want to when he'd rather be creating stuff. Sucks for us.
But if ZUN's weird decisions are what enable him to make games (and other official works), then whatever let him do what he wants.