Giving Digital Visual Novels and RPGs a Physical Home: An Interview With Limited Run Games

Monday, June 27th, 2016

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Limited Run Games | Limited Run Games

Limited Run Games is a company that prides themselves on preserving digital-only games onto physical media. Operation Rainfall had a chance to sit down with the company at E3 2016 to talk about what they have planned for the future and why preserving these games is so important. Additionally, we talked about the relationship they’ve created with developers like Sekai Project and Koei Tecmo.

How big is Limited Run Games?

[Douglas Bogart and Josh Fairhurst look at each other.]

Just us.

Where did the idea originally come from?

Josh – We’ve been developing games at Mighty Rabbit for quiet some times. I really hated the idea that my games were just available digitally because I know that in 20 or 30 years when those servers that are storing my games get shut off, I will lose them. They wouldn’t exist or have a legacy; that didn’t sit right with me. I started talking with Sony after I saw the success of Retro City Rampage. I told them that I wanted to release more games in this format. Also, I let them know that I wanted to bring Breach and Clear and Saturday Morning RPG to disc or cartridge. I asked them, “Can we do that?” After sending emails to 12 different people over eight months, we were finally able to do it.

We tested the waters with Breach and Clear. If it didn’t work out we’ll just go out of business. If it does work out we can say, “Cool, we’ve proved the market.” Thankfully, we put the game out and it sold out in a few hours. 108 minutes is the exact number, Bill at Zeboyd games told me that.

Douglas – If they didn’t sell out he was just going to steamroller what was left.

Josh – We had so much money tied up into producing it. That, if it didn’t sell out that wouldn’t have been good. But it did and the rest is history. From there we were able to do Saturday Morning RPG, Oddworld, Futuridium, Ocotodad, and more.

Limited Run Games | Limited Run Games

Recently it was announced that you’d be releasing some Sekai Project games. How did this come about?

Josh – I like visual novels, specifically like, Danganronpa and Steins;Gate. So, Sekai Project’s stuff is exciting for me cause I want more visual novels on Vita. I’m not one to sit in front of my computer and play visual novels. I wanna sit on my bed with a Vita and read one. I think they fit the system so well.

You are currently releasing Rabi-Ribi and Fault-Milestone, how were these games chosen?

Josh – They chose them. They were games that they were looking to bring to PS4 and Vita. They actually hired our studio, Mighty Rabbit, to work on the Fault-Milestone PlayStation ports.

Is it difficult to port visual novels to physical media?

Josh – The engine they use is Renpi, which doesn’t support consoles out of the box. So we had to come up with some kind of solution to take those games and bring them into Unity. Which is a very multi-platform friendly engine.


Do you see this partnership continuing?

Josh – Yes, it’s our hope that we can get to some of the bigger titles like Clannad and Grisaia on physical media.

What do you say to the crowd of people that are pro-digital media?

Josh – Sorry, but you’re you’re going to get burned in ten-fifteen years. However long it takes for the next generation of gaming to come out and PSN shuts down.

Douglas – We’ll have people argue with us on Twitter asking why we are making physical games when they can just play their digital games no matter what. I’ll ask, “What if the servers shut down?” and they’ll say, “That’s not a problem.” That’s when I’ll reply, “Well, you’re not playing it legally.”

Josh – I don’t want to ever have to go to Piratebay or mod my systems to play games.

Limited Run Games is very transparent on their Twitter and with fans; is that what you guys aim for?

Josh –  For us, we just want to be authentic. Also, as consumers we like to know that the people we are buying stuff from are authentic.

Shipping nightmares happen sometimes and we are very quick to let our customers know that we are looking out for them.

Limited run games

As of now, it seems your prices for games are super low when it’s released. However, after the game sells out, it appears on eBay for 4 times as much. So what makes you keep it at a low price?

Douglas – It’s a fair price to us. We don’t want people to be scared of the price. We don’t want to put a game out at $60 and get the argument that the game is $15 digitally.

Josh – At $60, how many people are we losing that actually want the game? We want to have an attractive price for the people that really want to own the game.

As you gain popularity, are more companies approaching you guys to make games?

Josh – The vast majority of developers have come to us. Except for like “dream projects”, such as, Nuclear Throne, Octodad, and Cosmic Star Heroine.

Do you think there will be other companies that try to make their own Limited Run type of business?

Josh – I think their are people that are going to take note. I’m not too worried because I will try to buy all the limited releases that come out. Whether their competitors or not. I know that our costumers are just like me and there’s room for competition. If it gets oversaturated, I feel like since we’re doing it first, people would have already started their Limited Run Games collection and they’ll keep coming back.

Limited Run Games | Limited Run Games

Is it hard for indie developers to get their games onto physical media?

Josh – No, it seriously takes a couple hours. On Vita, it’s literally like ticking a check box and it’s ready for physical media. On PS4 they have to make a disc image and tick another check box. Overall, it’s just a couple hours of work.

Douglas – If we talk to them before the game’s release, it’s even easier. Sometimes developers have DLC planned, we’ll all agree to wait till all the DLC is released before the physical version. We don’t want to preserve the game, without all the extras. A good example is: you’ll have Saints Row come out and a year later the complete edition will come out.

Josh – We have been running into an issue on one game that we haven’t announced yet. The code base is so old that they don’t know how to get the DLC added in with the main game. So that be a special case where we can’t release it with the DLC.

Do you have a set number of releases that Limited Run Games is aiming for?

Josh – The ideal amount of game releases a month is two. The max, I think we’ll ever do is four. We don’t want to oversaturate our own market. There might be a month that has more than four, but that’s not something we plan on doing often.

There’s been some talk that that you guys are looking to work with Koei Tecmo?

Douglas – I can say, “Yes, we’ve talked.” It’s just a matter of figuring out the logistics of it. Can’t go into further detail, but they’re interested in the idea.

Josh – Our goal is to start with the Arland trilogy for Vita.

How do you feel about physical media? Do you prefer digital content? Let us know in the comments below.

  • Mr0303

    I really like what LRG are doing – physical releases for niche titles is something hardcore console gamers are surely interested in. I wish we had someone like them in Europe.

    I also can’t believe that there are people who are arguing against having physical versions – it is true ownership and gives people more options.

    • Daymon

      THANK YOU. It’s fine for the people who want to own an entirely digital library, but for the love of gah, do NOT actively try to get companies to switch to it entirely.

      The day the industry goes digital-only is probably the day I stop buying new games.

    • Mr0303

      Same here. If digital-only comes to past I’ll turn into a retro gamer (which is not bad considering my monstrous backlog).

    • Daymon

      I’ll just try to look for the silver lining if that does happen – my backlog is so absurd I don’t even know if I could finish it before I die at this point, but that might make it possible.

    • j0eeyy_p

      I’ll personally just wait for mega-sales, or become a full time importer from Japan if they continue to resist the trend like they do with CDs,

  • DizzyGear

    I admire their do or die trying attitude when they started this and i’m glad to hear they talked with Tecmo-Koei about the Atelier series (now if only we can find someone to localize Ciel nosurge).
    I do kinda hope they’ll switch to a pre-order system and press whatever amount pre-ordered in the future. Spamming F5 waiting for the orders to open up hoping to score a copy before their sold out in 5 minutes kinda sucks. Especially if I fail to order a copy for whatever reason and i’m stuck with having to buy it off an eBay scalper.

    • azariosays

      i believe that’s the excitement of it all. Waking up early and getting to your computer just in time to get a video game. I love the feeling.

    • DizzyGear

      It’s less fun if the opening hour ends up being in the middle of the night of my time-zone and only to get an error because the server craps it self under the traffic spike and all copies are gone somehow by the time I get through.
      Been there with certain black Friday sales. I’d hate to see it happen if the Arland trilogy get a run.

    • azariosays

      Yea, honestly, any time i’ve ordered from their store i’ve been on my cell phone and it was an easy process. Even within the first five minutes.

      For Arland, I think you’ll be good on getting a copy for sure 🙂

    • Ging

      They seem to be pretty against switching to a pre-order system on their forum. I think they said part of the reason they do it is because the demand would be less if compared more set in stone quantity. Also, when they asked their fans, most of them seemed to prefer the way it is set up now. Considering they’re a small business taking a big risk, “if it ain’t broken don’t fix it”.

  • Anon

    Wow. I didn´t know it was this easy to start up your own physical distribution company. Even talking with some big developers like Koei Tecmo. I was already disappointed that there are no physical Vita editions of the new Atelier game so this is great news.

  • j0eeyy_p

    I appreciate the work LRG put out with their releases. It’s also why I buy all their releases, in the hope of them getting bigger ones. I’d like to see the Atelier games go physical, as well as Ray Gigant and more Sekai Project titles. I hope these limited physical firms get more promiment, it could do the industry a world of good.

    What they’ve said about a digital-only future is spot on. And the piracy comments will be controversial, but he’s right. If an all-digital future happens, you may as well become a pirate as the officially released good becomes on par with the pirated version. If there’s DRM involved, it becomes inferior to the legal copy.

  • Panpopo

    Nice interview, always like hearing from this company.

    I understand why people want to go digital only. However the majority of games I have always been attracted are niche. For example, you cannot find Shadow Hearts via a legal channel anymore – physical is the only other option.

    And what if more companies go the way of Konami? Suikoden 1 – 3 are currently on the PSN, but what about the next generation? Will they just disappear, as Konami is only interested in FIFA for consoles? Digital is fine but it feels more finite than physical – like it could be gone in an instant.

    Sorry if that sounded a bit over dramatic, but it is hard not think about sometimes.

  • ThatFeelWhenPhysical

    >Our Goal is to start with the Arland Trilogy on Vita.