I've seen a few questions so far that are very probably off topic (at least in wording and maybe even in what the OP wants to know).

An example here is: "How much do VNs cost in production and how much profit do they give" (as that is way too general for someone to be able to answer I take it that this formulation in the least is unanswerable. And I THINK also the question itself as long as profit is asked for (not for a specific VN but generally) is also off topic / unanswerable.

Now my own question is: What is the correct way to handle such a question when you stumble upon it? Just point out to the OP that his question can't be answered / is probably off topic (with a possible minus vote).

Or should you also point him/her into the direction of specific forums (not via links, but via search words for google) where he/she could get an answer from? (all in comments not answers naturally).

  • 2
    The question you cite is certainly difficult to answer, but I do not see why we should consider a question to be off-topic for this reason alone. It might be "too broad", but it is conceivable that an informed person could provide a useful statistical answer along the lines of "n% of visual novels turn a profit according to report X; industry source Y claims that a visual novel requires k hours of development per hour of play time".
    – senshin
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 20:22
  • I'm thinking that currently it is too broad (as the costs itself depend on the artist in question and thus vary greatly even so much that not a real default price can be said there :/ ). The off topic like mentioned I'm not sure about if it is or not (that is why I said "probable/probably") as the profit is based on the costs, the marketing, ... and thus can also only be said for specific cases and not on a general base. As I'm not sure there if it is off topic or notI abstained from trying to answer (I have some experience when it comes to the cost). Thus my question about how to handle it.
    – Thomas
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 20:29
  • I feel that such questions when obvious individual answers are too varied, it might be possible to give an answer which is more aggregated, ie per studio, or industry-wide average. To generalise difficulty into unanswerable might be a stretch.
    – Tyhja
    Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 3:36

1 Answer 1


You should try to distinguish between "this can't be answered even in principle" and "this may be very difficult to answer, and require information that is obscure or not public". The former is almost always a bad question (and should be downvoted and closed if it can't be improved), but the latter is often a good question, and some of the most interesting questions on the site are of this form. Indeed, if every question on this site were very easy to answer, we would not have much reason to have a site in the first place. It is difficult to draw a fine line between the two cases, but if you can reasonably imagine that some answer (even an incomplete one) could be present, even if only in some obscure (possibly untranslated) source or only to people working close to the industry, then if it is within our scope and of general interest to anime/manga/etc. fans it is probably a good question for this site.

For the question you are asking about, I think it falls in the latter category. I don't think the OP wants to know exactly how much everything on https://vndb.org/ cost to produce and how much profit they made; this would indeed be unreasonable. Just like with anime, this information will not be public for most VNs, but that doesn't preclude giving an approximate range with a few examples. And it wouldn't be very surprising if there are a few examples are publicly available. Certainly, more of these figures are private than not, but just 2 or 3 would be enough to write a good answer to that question.

Actually, some numbers must be known to a fair number of people, because somebody has to fund these projects. Even if the funding all comes from internally, there's presumably someone knowledgeable about the budget on the staff of every major VN studio. That's actually a fair number of people overall, and only a few of them would have needed to say anything public to get a pretty good idea. In fact, I think I have even read interviews directly addressing this issue (as I stated in a comment on the question) and it would not surprise me if there were more. And even if we can't find any examples, we can certainly put bounds on the cost by finding VNs which did turn a profit (e.g. pretty much anything with an anime adaptation) and looking at their sales numbers.

So ultimately, just because a question can not be answered totally does not mean it can not be answered well. I think the question you have linked to is quite a good example of this. Answering it is likely to be fairly difficult, but a good answer to it would be quite helpful. You might think of this as a "high risk, high reward", but actually, because space on this site is of no shortage and the question is not likely to attract many spam or low-quality answers, it is low risk and high reward. If you still don't think the question is good, you can downvote it and suggest improvements in the comments, but personally I think this question is actually quite good and interesting. I could probably even give an okay answer myself, but I'd rather leave it for someone more ambitious to answer.

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