An in-depth look at what otome players want

I posted about an otome survey I created, hoping people would answer and fill out the many questions. I did not expect to get as many as 800 responses, but it’s crazy how many people wanted to show the world what they like.

This article is a study of those results (rounding up/down percentages), figuring out the common threads between these otome fans. Hopefully it will be clear to otome developers what their target audience really wants.

Because one thing is for sure after seeing the results of this study; people play otome for a lot of different reasons.

Onto the results!

Who plays otome?

This is a no-brainer, otome is aimed at women. 93% identifies as a woman, 2% identifies as a man and 4% non-binary. The rest are other.

Since this is an English survey, it is no surprise that 52% of the respondents came from North-America. Europe was the second biggest group with 24%, trailed by Asia with 16%. Australia, South-America, Africa and Oceania were pretty small.

The age demographics are pretty split, though the majority are age 24 and below with 59% otome players. The biggest age group is 21-24 with 29% otome players and 25-30 with 26% otome players, followed by 18-20 with 22%.

The older the otome player is, the more likely it is that they have been playing otome games for years. With otome players age 25 and up, almost half of them have been playing otome games for longer than 5 years, compared to the average, which is at 40%. One thing is for sure; otome players are usually veterans of the genre.

The most important aspect in otome

Here’s where the data will get interesting. When it comes to the most important thing about an otome, the majority agrees that the story is what really counts.

With 48% saying the story is the most important part in an otome, it seems players don’t mind a rather lackluster romance, as long as the story is really good. However, we can’t ignore the 25% of otome players who think romance is the most important thing in an otome.

So, let’s compare them a bit… what do otome players who picked story as their #1 think the second most important aspect is?

Here we’re comparing Story otome players and Romance otome players. Those that think story is the most important aspect of an otome, think romance is the second most important aspect, and vice versa. There’s a small difference between the groups that Story otome players also value art a little more, and Romance Otome players that value romance, are more inclined to find adult content important (story otome players don’t find this important at all).

The results for those that picked available love interests as their #1 is very similar to those that picked romance as their #1.

The bottom line is; otome players want a well written story with a lot of romance. To ignore either one them means to alienate quite a lot of otome players.

An interesting note to make is those that picked art as their most important aspect. It seems there’s quite a lot of otome players from Asia who think the art is most important!

Adult content

Now, here’s some of the interesting stuff.

What do you know, otome players are thirsty. 39% want detailed and graphic sex in their otome. That’s quite a sizable portion of players who unfortunately, do not have many adult otome available to them. A huge market left untapped! The second biggest group is at 34% who prefer more flowery language and no graphic sex, but they definitely want to read about things going hump in the night.

That makes up 73% of otome players who enjoy having sex be part of their otome experience. With 20% saying no opinion, you can be rest assured; adding sexiness to your otome won’t make players shy away from your game. They’ll just love it even more.

Those that didn’t like any adult content, they mentioned in some comments that they would prefer an option to toggle the adult content.

Let’s start comparing regions and age! Who is the most starved of adult content?

Surprisingly, there’s not that much difference among age (though 40+ otome players repeatedly cite no opinion on graphic sex). The age 25 and up group has slightly more otome players who want graphic sex (42%) compared to below 25 (36%). The younger the target audience, the less likely they would be interested in graphic sex (they prefer nothing too descriptive). The older the target audience, the more likely they want to see some hot and sexy scenes.

North-America comes out on top with 44% wanting to see graphic sex. The rest of the continents are pretty much the same. Across regions, players want some sexiness in their otome.

However, when you filter out players who are age 20 and below, suddenly Asia bumps up! Europe is the least likely region to prefer graphic sex.

Players 21 and above:
North America: 46% prefers graphic sex, 26% nothing too descriptive
Europe: 35% prefers graphic sex, 36% nothing too descriptive
Asia: 42% prefers graphic sex, 30% nothing too descriptive

Players who said romance is the most important factor in otome, 48% of them want graphic sex. Those that say story is more important, only a low 31% want graphic sex. Filtering it to those that self-insert, the group with the biggest amount of players that want graphic sex are those that find characters the most important and self-insert (52%!). Players who find story the most important and don’t self-insert find graphic sex unimportant with only 21%.

So here we have two kinds of people; if they’re playing the game for the story, they don’t really want to have gratuitous sex scenes in the way of plot. On the other hand, if they’re playing it for the romance and self-insert, then yes please, give the sex!

However, going back to those that want graphic sex in their otome, the majority with 37% say they still think story is the most important, followed by romance with 30%. This is mostly due to the fact that the majority of players in general picked story as most important factor.

The deal with rape in otome

Speaking of adult content – what about the other, grittier side? Do people enjoy violence and rape? With as many outspoken people about disliking the amount of rape in otome, what do the statistics say?

The majority (43%) says no to rape, yes to violence. However, 28% does enjoy reading about rape! But exactly, how many of them enjoy reading about rape when it’s being done to the MC? It’s one thing to be confronted about the gritty reality that people can get raped, it’s an entirely different matter when you’re reading a first person perspective of the MC being raped.

And 35% say no, they don’t want to read about the MC being raped. 18% are okay with the MC’s being raped in the past (part of her backstory), which is way less traumatic than reading about it in first person. Still, a sizable number of 18% players are okay with the MC being raped.

It’s not all black and white with otome players. They are okay with rape and sexual assault in some circumstances, especially if the theme of the story allows it. But the majority clearly does not want to read about MC getting sexually assaulted or raped.

Pretty boys forcing themselves on the MC? Only 18% are okay with that. The majority of otome players are not okay with that.

Now, a good point to consider are bad endings.

When it comes to bad endings, 51% like having them included in their games. When you filter out by those that are okay with rape and violence inflicted upon the MC – that bad ending preference jumps up by 14% to 65%.

We can most likely deduce that people who are okay with the MC being raped – are probably interested in it from a mild curiosity point of view. Thinking “How much can things go horribly wrong in the bad endings?”

But what about those that genuinely enjoy reading about it?

Let’s compare to the preference to have a dominant or submissive love interest (dominant = take what he wants, submissive = prefers if MC makes a move first)

Now there’s a stark difference. Otome players who are not okay with the MC being raped say they want a mix of both, with 64%. Only 22% prefer fully dominant love interests. When you filter out for those that are okay with the MC being raped, this number jumps up to a staggering 57% dominant preference.

Otome players who prefer dominant love interests are more likely to prefer “rape fantasies” in their otome.

After all, this is all just a fantasy and it’s being read from the safety of their own home. No harm will personally be done to player, they are free to explore the gritty bad endings otome have to offer.

Genre

Everyone wants to live in a fantasy world.

With the majority of otome players picking fantasy at 46%, it is split between Medieval/otherworld (26%) and Modern (19%). This explains why the “isekai” genre (transported to another world) is so popular among otome players. They want to be whisked away to a world unlike our own and experience an otherworldly romance.

This is why in otome, we see a lot of Japanese girls being transported to the Sengoku period, or to the Edo period to meet the Shinsengumi. Or the many, many number of otome games set in Alice in Wonderland. Of course, there’s plenty who enjoy fantasy set in the modern world, or who don’t enjoy isekai at all and just your plain ol’ fantasy variety.

Let’s remove fantasy from this graph to see what else is popular.

The 2nd biggest genre is mystery. Mystery can be anything, really, but it means a lot of otome players enjoy a good story. The 3rd biggest genre is slice of life. Now here’s an interesting comparison:

Otome players who said mystery is their most favourite genre, a whopping 58% think story is the most important aspect. They’re also the only group who don’t value romance much at all, with a low 12% of otome players who think romance is the most important aspect. Compared to people whose favourite genre is slice of life, where there’s a little less importance on story (38%), followed closely by romance at 33%.

There you have it, when it comes to genre, players expect a certain amount of focus on plot or romance. If you’re curious about those that prefer fantasy – that’s pretty much the same as the average (most prefer story, with romance second).

A shoutout to the 16 otome players who like idols and celebrities games. It seems that despite the saturation of this genre in otome – most prefer other genres a lot more.

A big shock is to see sci-fi scoring so low. Out of 800 people, only 20 preferred sci-fi. I believe quite a lot of people do still enjoy sci-fi elements if it’s paired up with mystery or fantasy.

Why do people play otome

Sadly, this was my mistake in allowing multiple choice, so you can’t really focus on the most important reason. Pretty much everyone ticked every answer.

The biggest lead is “to meet interesting characters” followed very closely by “the pretty boys” as well as “the pretty art”. Which is then followed by “to experience romance”.

We can determine that otome players turn to otome games to meet interesting pretty boys who will sweep them off their feet.

The Main Character

Oh boy, here we go. The one thing that gets complained about the most; the main character. A lot of otome players are burned out by having to play an MC that doesn’t have any agency and makes dumb decisions.

So let’s see the results; what did people hate about the main character?

As you can see, the top most hated trait in the MC is “making dumb decisions” (72%) followed very closely with “no agency” (71%). Players loathe it when the MC is unable to make any decisions regarding her own life in the story, being dragged around by other characters. Then, when she’s finally able to make a decision – it’s a dumb one. One that usually brings her life in jeopardy.

Otome players hate not having the choice to be smart. They don’t want to play as an MC that is dumb and naïve. This is universal among the entire results. Then there’s not being smart enough, being naïve and clueless about sex and relationships. All traits the majority of players dislike.

There has been some talk among the otome community that because players are jaded by MCs that are naïve and shy, that games now try to go to the complete opposite; a fierce and bold MC that is ready to slap some people at a moment’s notice. The MC in Ikemen Sengoku gets a lot of flack for being too outspoken and bold.

Surprisingly, these people are simply a vocal minority; only 16% dislikes it when the MC is too prone to fight back (129 votes), and 11% (88 votes) dislikes it when the MC is being sassy. Let’s delve into the players who dislike MCs that are too forward.

The majority with 80% who dislike a sassy and too prone to fight MC are below the age of 25. With most of them being below 20 (56%). The younger the player is, the more likely it is that they will dislike an MC that fights back.

This is especially apparent when you check to see whether these players like a dominant or submissive LI, with more players choosing dominant compared to the average. Basically, these players don’t seem to like it when the MC talks back because they prefer their LI to be dominant instead. None of these players selected the submissive LI.

However, what do they enjoy about the MC?

As a backlash of being forced to play as an incompetent and naïve MC, the majority wishes to play as an MC that is capable, bold and mature. The 2nd most popular is to be sarcastic, witty and serious. Otome players want to play as someone who’s got their life act together and who isn’t afraid to be a little witty and bold, but knows when to be serious and mature.

Happy, hardworking and kind are the 3rd most favourable traits, followed by being feisty, hotheaded and sassy.

A lot of otome players voted “no opinion” (12%) and cited in the comments that it really depends on the story.

Blank or generic – meant for self-insertion – is the least voted trait along with an MCs that are naive, innocent and clueless. Seems like otome players definitely prefer an MC with a personality versus a blank one!

Speaking of self-insertion…

The majority of 56% self-inserts when playing otome, 44% doesn’t. The group that likes to self-insert is split when it comes to the MC being customizable. This is surprising, because it’s more common to see people mention they don’t self-insert. I’d call this the silent majority; not a lot of otome players admit they self-insert.

Let’s split this up among what is most important to them, and what genre (excluding fantasy) they prefer.

Those that don’t self-insert widely prefer the focus to be on the story (56%). It makes sense, they just want to read an interesting story. Otome players that like to self-insert still prefer a good story (39%), but romance is followed closely (33%). I’d like to point out that for many users who took the survey, the available love interests is similar to thinking romance is most important.

When filtering it out to genre, those that don’t self-insert and prefer mystery are even less likely to be interested in romance (only 12%!), with story being at 62%. Those that do self-insert and prefer slice of life, romance (39%) wins out over story (31%), with available love interests also increasing to 23%.

So there you have it; those that self-insert prefer more focus on the romance, especially if it’s a slice of life genre. Those that don’t self-insert heavily prefer more focus on the story.

People enjoy being able to customize the MC! A majority of 42% of players wishes to not only change the MC’s name, but also her appearance. Then there’s 23% of players who likes it when there’s a default MC. Now let’s filter this.

Players who think story is the most important and prefer the mystery genre, 41% of them likes it when there’s a default MC. They’re definitely in it for the story. In contrast, players who think romance is the most important and prefer a slice of life genre, 57% of them prefer to customize the MC’s appearance.

Among those that self-insert and those that don’t, the difference is like night and day; otome players want to change the MC’s appearance when they like to self-insert. A little self-explanatory. Those that don’t self-insert enjoy reading about a default MC.

The majority of players want to see and hear the MC during the game, with 40% in favour. A sizable portion of 29% simply want the option to toggle the MC on and off. Only 18% wants to see the sprite, but not hear the MC.

When we compare those who self-insert and those who don’t, then there’s a clear difference whether or not people want to see the MC on screen. When otome players self-insert, they prefer to have the option to toggle the MC on and off with 40%. Those that don’t self-insert would like to see and hear the MC with 56%.

What with recent western otome games allowing the player to choose their pronouns, it seems to be a popular feature. However, the majority (35%) really doesn’t have an opinion (most likely because 92% of the players identify as female after all). The second biggest group (27%) only would like to change pronouns as long as the gender affects the actual story of the game. 19% actually don’t want that option at all, with 18% saying they do. Seems like most players are okay not changing pronouns.

When it comes to the MC’s age, the majority (53%) prefers her in her early twenties (21-25). There’s a sizable portion that voted 18-20 (34%), but pretty much only the otome players aged 18-20 voted for that group. Basically, the younger otome players are, the more they want the MC to be their own age. Very few people wanted the MC to be age 15-17 or 30+ though. Even otome players who are 35+ preferred to play an MC that is in her twenties.

This is most likely due to the fact that the older the MC is, the more backstory and baggage she has. MCs in their twenties are basically a fresh start, some can still be completely new to romance.

Depending on the player’s age, they prefer MC to be working (with 55%), or for those below age 25 tend to not really care (43%). The below 25 age group also slightly prefers the MC to be in college, with 24%. The consensus seems to be whatever works for the story.

The popularity of otome games having eyeless MCs, seems to be entirely disliked in this survey, regardless of where they’re from. Only 11 players said they prefer MC with no eyes. The bottom line: otome players prefer to see the MC’s eyes!

It is interesting to note that those who said they prefer to see the MC out of frame, or the back of her head, the majority self-inserts. That’s a whopping 93%! When filtering out those that self-inserts, 70% want to see the eyes. It is interesting to note that the eleven players who voted no eyes, are also the people who self-insert!

With that said… the most popular kind of CG features the MC! Basically, kissing scenes where you can see the MC and with the love interest blushing would be the cream of the crop.

The Love Interests

After a lengthy section about the MC, it’s time to focus our attention on the characters of otome. Just how many love interests do otome players want?

More is, well – more! The majority of players prefer to have at least 5 love interests. Very few prefer games that only feature 3 love interests or less. Want to attract players? Then you’ve got to present a varied cast.

What kind of cast do otome players prefer? Traditionally, an otome game means playing as a female MC that can have a romance with a male love interest. Nowadays, developers try to be inclusive and add female love interests as well. What do players think?

Almost one-third (30%) still prefers a traditional all-male cast. Followed closely with 27% who prefer the majority of the cast to be male, with some female or other to be included. Then there’s 15% who prefer to have both equal amounts of male and female LI, with 14% saying they only prefer at least one female LI. The rest has no opinion.

While 30% want an all-male cast, 57% want at least one female option to be included. The majority enjoys having some diversity!

When it comes to the age of the LI, Players prefer the age of the cast to be a mixture of young and old with 53%, followed by 32% who prefers the cast to be around the same age as the MC. 11% prefers them to be older than the MC, the rest have no opinion.

Here’s what most people would be interested to find out; what type of character do otome players prefer? Because of the multiple choice, many players picked a lot of options so the data isn’t very reliable in what the most popular is.

With 73% of votes, mature and caring is the most popular character type. Followed by sweet and kind with 63%. Out of the dere types, kuudere wins with 63%, tsundere is not far behind with 60%, and yandere – a very controversial type – has 30%. That makes almost 1 in 3 otome players interested in the yandere type.

Note that many people picked sweet and kind, however I believe players want these traits to be in present in all characters. For example, the character type that is sweet and kind is usually overlooked and unpopular in otome, but when they’re traits that another character type can have (for example, a tsundere being sweet and kind), then players will totally love it.

Least popular is… crude and mean! Imagine that. As much as otome players get flack for liking asshole characters, they don’t actually like these traits (compared to 63% who want their LI to be sweet and kind). Otome players are okay with the character being arrogant and cocky (37%), but being downright crude and mean towards the MC is a line you shouldn’t cross.

Second least popular type is loud and dumb! Sorry genki boys, only 16% loves you.

When it comes to the love interest, there’s several things players hate. But what players hate the most, is an LI that hates women (70%) and belittles the MC’s appearance (65%). Followed very closely by attempted sexual assault/rape (63%) and incest (60%). Those are the top 4 tropes of “Pls, no, not in my game.”

There’s also a sizable portion that is tired of the fangirl club that are rivals towards the MC, and a lot of players disliking the dead girlfriend/wife cliché. Players also tend to dislike it when the LI treats the MC like a child. The Shouta type is also disliked a lot.

Dominant or submissive character types, what do people generally go for?

Otome players find a mixture of both the best of both worlds. Now, it’s important to note this is not in a sexual context, but more in a way of a dominant LI taking what he wants, and a submissive LI being hesitant about pursuing the MC. 29% however, still prefer more dominant characters. A small percentage prefers submissive characters.

Of the players who said they prefer submissive men, interestingly enough, the majority hails from Europe! I guess Europeans lean slightly more towards submissive characters. Of the players who prefer dominant characters, they’re also the people who prefer to read about mature themes such as violence, death and rape (which ties in before that the players who prefer the MC to be raped enjoy dominant men).

When it comes to being pursued or doing the pursuing, the majority with 62% says it depends on the character. 18% likes it when both the LI and MC are interested in each other, flirting back and forth. Followed by 17% who likes being chased. A minority (4%) likes to do the chasing.

For those that like being chased there seems to be a slight uptick in North American players. These players also think romance is the most important aspect of an otome. They are also the same group who enjoys the LI being dominant with 62% (and no, none of them voted for submissive!).

The group that likes to do the chasing was too small to gather much data on (other than, this is the same group that votes for liking submissive LIs).

The Love Interests’ appearance

When it comes to men and their weird missing nipples in otome – 57% want to see nipples! 38% says no opinion (the image above has an error, where it says 38.4% for no nipples, but that’s meant to be “no opinion”), with only a small percentage (5%) saying they don’t like to see nipples. The no-nipple party mostly seems to hail from Asia (44%) where the origin of nippless-men started. Otome players who prefer graphic sex in their otome, vastly prefer their men to have nipples with a staggering 84%.

The bottom line; otome players want to see nipples on their men.

Now here’s a list of most popular hair and eye colour, plus skin tone. The vast majority, in all categories, said they prefer all or have no preference. The ones that do have a preference, here’s what won:

Most Popular:

  1. Black hair (white 2nd)
  2. Blue eyes (green 2nd)
  3. Light skin tone (tanned 2nd)

Least popular:

  1. Yellow hair (green 2nd least popular)
  2. Orange eyes (pink 2nd least popular)
  3. Ebony skin tone (dark 2nd least popular)

Hair length, the majority prefers medium length hair (79%), followed by short (63%). Least liked is buzzcut short (16%)! Out of the 18 men in this survey, 11 of them voted for buzzcut short. The longer the hair, the more appealing it is for women.

Glasses! People always seem to be very vocal about glasses, but otome players who like glasses seem to be a vocal minority. Only a small 9% prefer glasses, with 8% who likes it only when there’s a one-time scene where the character wears glasses. The majority (42%) says it depends on the character, and the rest likes both.

The gameplay

Now that we have the MC and LI out of the way, how do otome players prefer their games? Do they want something with minigames, or an epic story that lasts for hours?

The majority of players (41%) want each character route (from start to finish) to last between 3 to 4 hours. Followed closely with 38% who want the route to last at least 5 hours!

Otome players who selected 1-2 hours per route also have more users who prefer to game on mobile (though PC is still the most popular). They are also slightly less interested in bad endings versus players who prefer their routes to be at least 5 hours long. This can most likely be explained by the fact that mobile otome feature short routes (average 2 hours), where there are no bad endings.

Do players prefer a true end? With talks of players being frustrated that the ending they got and prefer is not really considered the true ending… what does the majority think of true routes?

The majority (45%) is undecided, saying they sometimes like a true route. For them, it depends on the game and the characters themselves. 37% says they don’t enjoy true ends. Only 12% can say they fully enjoy otome games with true routes.

Otome players who think the available love interests are the most important aspect of the game, definitely don’t enjoy true routes. A good 48% don’t enjoy them.

Basically if you’re playing it for the characters, then obviously the player is not going to like it when the character they love isn’t the true route.

What if routes are locked and you have to follow a certain order to read the next route? The majority, much like true routes, sometimes prefer locked routes with 47%. However, 24% say they do enjoy following a certain order.

Bad endings! The cruel or twisted, or simply having the LI reject you at the very end. Do otome players enjoy bad endings in their game? The majority at 51% says yes, they do! 27% has no opinion and a small 21% says they don’t prefer bad endings.

Otome players who think story is the most important and prefer the mystery genre seem to like bad endings (61%) a lot more than the average. The same goes for those that enjoy reading about mature themes such as violence, death and rape (this was shown earlier when people who enjoy reading about rape enjoy bad endings).

On the other hand, otome players who enjoy the slice of life genre are slightly more averse to bad endings, with only 37% saying they enjoy bad endings and 33% saying they don’t. The same people who don’t like bad endings are also the same people who are less likely to read about violence, death and rape (32%) compared to the average (15%).

It seems otome players who want to read about a nice slice of life otome, don’t really care much for bad endings. Those that are really into story and mystery, but also violence, death and rape – they definitely enjoy bad endings a lot more!

68% can’t accurately say whether or not they like minigames in otome games. This is most likely due to the fact that minigames can differ quite a lot. Some can be enjoyable, some can be downright frustrating. 19% are determined to dislike any minigame in their otome it seems.

Now, stat raisers on the other hand…

The majority at 41% says they dislike stat raisers. Followed by 39% who says they sometimes like it. Only 14% always like stat raisers.

However, some groups dislike them even more…

Otome players who don’t like stat raisers think story is the most important aspect of the game. The group who doesn’t self-insert also dislikes stat raisers at 51%.

Otome players who are in it for the story don’t want to be slowed down by stat raisers. But universally, stat raisers don’t seem to be very loved.

The players who do enjoy stat raisers tend to enjoy slice-of-life more (if you exclude fantasy), are more likely to self-insert and prefer to customize the MC. They also skew a little older with the majority being above 25.

Common routes in otome games are a staple, and to be expected. But how many players enjoy having to sit through a common route before it splits off into a character route?

Turns out, 44% say they only sometimes prefer common routes. However, a large group still prefer common routes with 42%. A small minority of 9% says they don’t enjoy common routes.

Otome players who don’t enjoy common routes are more inclined to think romance is the most important aspect. They’re also one of the largest groups to enjoy graphic sex. Most likely, this group prefers to jump straight into the romance without having to go through the common route first.

Those that do enjoy common routes tend to prefer story more, and are also slightly more inclined to like it when the MC has a default look and name.

The majority (58%) still prefers to go through the traditional common route and land on a character specific route, compared to those that don’t (23%). The ones who prefer to choose a route straight way slightly favour mobile gaming more than the average.

When it comes to choices made in otome games, the majority (38%) wants around 10 to 15 choices. Followed closely by those that want more than 20 choices, with 35%. A small group of players (8%) is alright with less than 10 choices. It seems around 15 choices is the sweet spot.

On a small sidenote; the players who picked 20+ choices prefer to have routes lasting more than 5+ hours. The players who picked 10-15 choices prefer routes that last 3-4 hours. It seems they’re mostly basing it on how long the route is. The longer the route lasts, the more choices players seem to want.

Speaking of choices – what about being punished for picking the wrong one? Despite it being a staple in otome, where you have to pick the right choice, the majority (46%) want choices to equally matter. Then there’s the 36% of players who do enjoy having to find the right choice.

Unsurprisingly, players who enjoy having to pick the right choice also enjoy bad endings. For them, it’s like figuring out a puzzle to solve the story and to avoid the bad ending (or try and get the bad ending!). Because of that, they also think story is the most important factor in otome.

Those that prefer their choices to be equally valid are slightly more likely to self-insert (60%) than average (55%). They also dislike it more when there are true routes in the game. Otome players who are going to self-insert would prefer to pick choices more in line with themselves, so they don’t want certain choices to be the correct one.

An interesting question; do otome players like to read in the point of view of the love interest? It seems quite a lot do; 50% would like to read bonus content or a side story in the LI’s PoV. A surprising 33% would prefer to read the entire route in the LI’s PoV! 8% wouldn’t like to read in their PoV. However, that’s still quite a lot of players who would like to know what the LI was thinking and feeling.

Voice acting

Some otome games are silent, but a lot of them feature voice acting. What do players prefer?

A large 78% prefers voice acting in otome! However, half of those (38%) only like it when it’s Japanese voice acting. There seems to be a bias towards Japanese voice actors, and many players will simply play an otome game because it contains their favourite voice actor. English voice acting isn’t popular at all, with only 2% preferring English voice acting. Then there’s 4% of players who prefer no voice acting at all.

In another, smaller survey I made, I asked players if they preferred if the MC would be voiced as well.

With 57%, people would like to hear the MC as long as they had the option to turn off her voice. 18% would love to hear her regardless whether or not you can toggle it. With 16% saying they don’t want to hear the MC.

While this was done in a different survey, I can deduce that the group that heavily prefers story and doesn’t self-insert are totally okay with a voiced MC. The group that self-inserts and enjoys romance more are the kind to prefer to have the toggle to turn her voice off.

As reflected here, 23% would definitely turn the MC off if they were given the option. The majority at 44% would definitely listen to her though!

It seems as long as you give the players the option to toggle the MC’s voice on/off, you’ll please most players.

The age-old question; do you let the voice actors finish their lines, or do you speed through the text, skipping the voice acting? For a majority – it depends! With 59%, they sometimes let the voice run all the way, or they skip. 30% will let the voice file run all the way through before proceeding.

Tropes and clichés players hate

Otome is rifled with tropes, sometimes even uniquely to them (kabedon anyone?). So which ones grate the player’s nerves the most?

Number one otome players hate (68%) is seeing sexism, racism and homophobia in their games. With 66%, they don’t like it when there’s not enough focus on the characters. 54% don’t like rape or sexual assault in their games.

Visual representation and platform

A sizable portion of otome players think the art of an otome is a pretty important factor. In fact, the player that did pick art as most important, the vast majority preferred the standard otome art style such as that of Collar x Malice or 7s’Carlet.

Anyways, the rest isn’t much different, here’s how art styles rank!

All in all, the vast majority prefers their art style to be soft and pale, with characters to be slender and very anime-like. Games such as Collar x Malice, Hakuoki and Code: Realize all have similar art styles and that is what is most popular.

The art style preference probably also explains the following:

A sizable portion only prefers Eastern otome games with 44%. 40% prefers both. Only 7% prefer Western otome.

How many otome players try out indie otome games? A good portion (75%) says they do. 17% says they never tried and 8% simply don’t play indie otome.

Due to 44% of otome players preferring Eastern otome, it’s no surprise that they don’t really try out indie otome games (23%), or simply just don’t play them (18%). No worries indie otome developers whose art style doesn’t match the most popular one – those players are less inclined to play your game in the first place!

Last question; what platform does the player prefer to play on?

Of course, the majority prefers to play on their PC with 78% (can’t complete the survey without a PC after all). There’s still plenty of fans left for the PSP/Vita console, with 45% preferring to play on it. 39% prefer mobile, which is still nothing to scoff at. Then a small portion (18%) also seems to like the Nintendo Switch, an emerging otome gaming platform.

Conclusion

Those were all the questions, I hope I did a thorough job going through all of them.

It’s clear there’s several groups of otome players that play otome games for various different reasons. The biggest difference is those that self-insert and those that don’t, because when you filter based on that, you suddenly get different genre preferences, wanting graphic sex or not, liking choices to matter equally etc.

There’s also a big group that plays otome just for the pretty boys, they don’t much care for the story, as long as you focus on the characters.

Otome players who enjoy bad endings are more likely to prefer violence, death and rape in their story – including liking the ‘yandere’ type. These players want to explore the weird and twisted from the safety of their own home.

Then there are the casual romance loving players who just want to pick a route and jump straight into romance. Or perhaps they just want to create their MC and read something sexy.

Contrasted by the players who want to read about a griping story and don’t mind having a little less focus on romance. They also don’t want to get bogged down by minigames or stat raisers, as that takes away from the story.

A dumb MC is universally disliked across all ages, regions, and story or romance loving players.

In the end, what all otome players can agree on; you’ve got to have some romance in your otome game.

11 thoughts on “An in-depth look at what otome players want

  1. This is phenomenal! I’m currently working on a study on the globalization of otome games and posted a survey recently on the reddit but, your thorough analysis is just remarkable and has collected all the information I needed from my own much less comprehensive survey. It’s a very well constructed study that, in my opinion, can really serve to support studies of otome games as fandom, their consumption and global cultural production. I feel like what I said sounded super stiff but I’m just amazed, and your work here is so thorough, the only thing I was wondering is if you could state your methodology (outside of a survey)/ when the study was conducted (especially since interpreting information takes forever).

  2. Thanks for sharing. A lot of the results are similar to what I’ve seen in articles/surveys done in the past, but there’s some details that are new to me.

    I would argue that the issue about Ikemen Sengoku is not because the MC is bold and sassy per se. It’s because she originally ISN’T as aggressive in the original Japanese as the English text made her out to be.

    This makes the issue more about adaptation/presentation rather than the MC’s personality. What I’ve seen is thay Asian fans accuse that kind of presentation to be “intrusive American/Western ideals imposed on Japanese product”. And “Western” conservative players accuse it of being “too liberal”.

    I’m hoping you could perhaps rephrase that. Including the Ikesen issue in the “vocal minority” comment sounds like handwaving away a genuine concern. Debates about how to properly adapt/localize narrative and dialogue from Japanese games is an issue not limited to Otome.

    It’s entirely possible that the same unhappy players would have been accepting of an MC who can fight if it’s an original product (not localized/translated from Japanese games).

  3. Thanks so much for this detailed survey you’ve done! It helped lots in knowing what other fellow gamers thought about the otome games and will certainly help the creators out as well.
    One question though: How do gamers feel about different art styles in a game? For the more popular games I know it tends to be quite constant but there are other cases where, eg, the art of the sprite differ from the CGs or the side character sprites are done by different artists or you can tell that the CGs are not drawn/colored in a constant artstyle. This kind of things does not seem to matter to some people and working together as a team of artists is good and all but somehow these kind of small art inconsistencies irked me greatly when playing a game. I was wondering if there are gamers out there whom doesn’t mind these ‘inconsistencies in the art’ or does some of them gets bothered by it as well?

  4. I had a blast reading the entirety of this analysis! I was intrigued to see that the people who preferred darker themes also preferred dominant LI’s whereas the ones who had no preference also had no preference as to whether their LI is dominant or submissive. Seems like we have very different preferences for otomes. :^)

  5. Good work on doing this survey and going through it! I’m sure it was a tough and long work. It was fun answering it before because I get to discover new things about what I actually like and reading this was a lot of fun, made me laugh a few times too haha. Thanks for the hard work! <3

  6. Um this is amazing. There is so much work and thought put into this, I loved reading this. You should be so proud of yourself because this is seriously the best. Thank you so much!! <33333

  7. There’s also an unsettling amount of Japanese-translated otome games where the “sunshine” character can be predicted to have a dual personality, and that personality almost always hates the MC for some reason. The only exception I’ve seen is Chinese game called Love And Producer, where the alleged “sunshine” boy does not have a split personality. He loves the MC, and when he ignores her, it’s of his own will.

  8. Just like I said on the otome reddit: thank you so much for taking your time to do this!! This was a very interesting read and it’s certainly helpful for those who want to make otome games themselves :D

    Great job!!

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