Doujin soft (同人ソフト, dōjin sofuto) is software created by Japanese hobbyists or hobbyist groups (referred to as "circles"), more for fun than for profit. The term includes digital doujin games (同人ゲーム), which are essentially the Japanese equivalent of independent video games or fangames (the term "doujin game" also includes things like doujin-made board games and card games).[1][2][3]

Doujin soft is considered part of doujin katsudou, for which it accounts for 5% of all doujin works altogether (as of 2015).[4] Doujin soft began with microcomputers in Japan, and spread to platforms such as the MSX and X68000. Since the 1990s, however, they have primarily been made for Microsoft Windows.

Most doujin soft sales occur at doujin conventions such as Comiket, with several that deal with doujin soft or doujin games exclusively such as Freedom Game (which further only allows games distributed for free)[5] and Digital Games Expo.[6][7] There is also a growing number of specialized internet sites that sell doujin soft. Additionally, more doujin games have been sold as downloads on consoles and PC stores such as Steam in recent years, through game publishers such as Mediascape picking them up.[8]

Digital doujin games

Doujin video games, like doujin soft, began with microcomputers in Japan, such as the PC-98 and PC-88, and spread to platforms such as the MSX, FM Towns and X68000. From the 90's to 00's however, they were primarily exclusive to Microsoft Windows. In recent years, more doujin games have been released on mobile platforms and home consoles, as well as other operating systems like macOS and Linux.[7] Though doujin games used to primarily be for home computers, more doujin games have been made available on gaming consoles in recent years.[8] There are also doujin groups that develop software for retro consoles such as the Game Boy and Game Gear.[7]

Like fangames, doujin games frequently use characters from existing games, anime, or manga ("niji sousaku"). These unauthorized uses of characters are generally ignored and accepted by the copyright holders, and many copyright holders also issue guidelines stating that they allow niji sousaku as long as their guidelines are adhered to. There are also many doujin game titles which are completely original. While there are no statistics on the ratio of niji sousaku to original titles for doujin games specifically, as of 2015 88% of doujin altogether (including doujin games) was niji sousaku to some extent, with 63% being purely niji sousaku and only 12% being completely original. [4] Example is Rockman Ciel,[9] later release in form as novelize[10] by PrejectRCL.

Doujin games typically did not get released outside Japan due to language barriers. Recently, Western publishers have been picking up these games for release in other markets, with one of the first known successful examples being Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale, developed originally by EasyGameStation in 2007, and then localized and released by Carpe Fulgur in 2010 for English audiences, which had a modest success with over 300,000 units sold in these markets.[11][12][13] Recettear's release on the digital storefront Steam, which at the time had begun opening its catalog to third-party developers, further helped to introduce doujin to the West.[14] This approach has been used to bring other doujin games, particularly visual novels and dating sims, to the West.[15][16]

Some titles sell well enough that their creators can make a full-time job out of what is typically an amateur hobby: For example TYPE-MOON and 07th Expansion originally released games as doujin games. One game, French-Bread's brawler Ragnarok Battle Offline, a homage/spoof of the MMORPG Ragnarok Online so impressed Gravity Corp., the original game's designers, that it has been given an official release outside Japan.

Notable digital doujin game companies

See also


  1. ^ "同人ボードゲーム・ゲームマーケット出展作品の委託販売コーナー".
  2. ^ "インディーズ(同人ゲーム)".
  3. ^ "『ゲームマーケット』公式サイト | 国内最大規模のアナログゲーム・ テーブルゲーム・ボードゲーム イベント". 『ゲームマーケット』公式サイト | 国内最大規模のアナログゲーム・ テーブルゲーム・ボードゲーム イベント.
  4. ^ a b Comic Market Committee (November 4, 2015). "日本の創作を支える二次創作と草の根活動" (PDF). Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan. Retrieved September 21, 2021.
  5. ^ "PCフリーゲームオンリーイベント【Freedom Game】".
  6. ^ "デジゲー博 | 同人&インディーゲームオンリー展示・即売会".
  7. ^ a b c "Digital Games Expo 2021 Event Report - A celebration of indie & doujin games". 15 November 2021.
  8. ^ a b Co, Ltd, Mediascape. ""Play, Doujin!" - 創る、遊ぶはもっとひろがる。家庭用ゲーム機向け同人・インディゲームパブリッシング。". Play, Doujin!.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Alexander, Leigh (2011-01-03). "Carpe Fulghur Talks Sales Reality As Promos Lead Recettear Over 100,000 Units". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2011-01-03.
  12. ^ Webster, Andrew (2010-12-21). "Low prices, low expectations? Ars looks at indie game pricing". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2011-01-04.
  13. ^ Meer, Alec (2011-01-17). "Post Mortem: Recettear". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 2011-01-17.
  14. ^ Brunskill, Kerry (18 July 2022). "How Steam changed Japan's doujin games from elusive treasures to international hits". PC Gamer.
  15. ^ Riva, Celso (July 13, 2015). "Making and selling visual novels and dating sims". Gamasutra. Retrieved November 11, 2015.
  16. ^ Sanchez, Miranda (June 6, 2014). "Hatoful Boyfriend Coming to US This Summer". IGN.