Mark Antoon: ‘We Want to Break the Stigma Around Adult Gaming’ with Nutaku

Considering that many people experience the average AAA or indie title on a regular basis, there is an entire branch of gaming that most would simply overlook or disregard. To talk about the idea of adult gaming with the average person would be enough to raise their eyebrow at the seriousness of the conversation. It’s for that reason, however, why adult gaming is attempting to shatter the stigma that it is all too familiar with its name and reputation. In fact, adult gaming is not aimed towards a small audience. While hentai isn’t something new, it’s making a much bigger impact in the Western market. There are platforms that are taking on this role to make adult gaming not seem as alien as some people would expect. Nutaku is one such place where adult gaming is thriving.

Mark Antoon

Mark Antoon, president of Nutaku. Credit: Mark Antoon

Nutaku prides itself as a platform that hosts an abundant of hentai-themed titles. Owned and operated by MindGeek, who’s responsible for its work on pornographic websites like Pornhub and RedTube, the Canadian-based Nutaku provides titles to experience on the browser, to be downloaded or be accessible for mobile devices. Since it was founded in 2015, Nutaku has built a powerhouse reputation in adult gaming and even expanded to hold pornographic titles in its collection. Nutaku shows little sign of slowing down. The platform established an all-ages website in 2015, as well as launching Kimochi Red Light in 2017 to be adult gaming’s Kickstarter equivalent. But above all of the aforementioned achievements, Nutaku’s biggest milestone came in the form of reaching 50 million unique users per month. For Nutaku, it only reiterates the important role it plays in advocating adult gaming to the masses and its continued success over the years.

Hardcore Gamer had the opportunity to sit down with Mark Antoon, the president of Nutaku, for an exclusive interview. We chatted to Mr. Antoon about Nutaku’s mission to ‘sexify’ gaming, the platform’s 50-million-user milestone, how the website could be seen as a way to promote sexism and misogyny and his thoughts on hentai’s impact outside of the Asian territory.

[Hardcore Gamer] Tell us more about this idea of Nutaku getting out there to ‘sexify’ gaming. Does everything really need to be sexy?

For players looking to enjoy their favorite games, the added artwork and adult scenes takes their experience to the next level. Of course, not every Nutaku game is equal on the ‘sexy scale.’ Many of our games have entertaining commentary and unique storylines that offer a whole range of gameplay interaction, but [they] aren’t necessarily as explicit as other games.

The most important thing is that the games on Nutaku are high quality and fun to play, but it’s vital to remember that offering the adult content in our games is what makes our platform so unique.

Armor Blitz

Armor Blitz is “where you assemble a squad of anime-style tank girls from the WWII era and lead them to battle.” Credit: Nutaku

Nutaku has previously put out $10 million for developers that choose to sexify its titles. That’s a lot of money for a specific request. Was it a difficult decision to make in the first place and has Nutaku seen success from this scheme?

We started in the world of game development and struggled as much as any studio to hit a home run in the traditional app stores, so our experience allows us to empathize with small studios. It’s near impossible, with less than one percent of apps/games becoming financially successful. Nutaku was the answer to these oversaturated app stores. And if it weren’t for the studios we work with, we wouldn’t have over 150 games on our platform.

So for us, it was an easy decision to invest the $10 million, which allows these smaller studios to see their hard work come to life and become a financial success, while at the same time [it] grows the adult gaming industry. There’s been lots of success arising from our investments, and with over 20 studio contracts in the making on top of the games already launched on the platform, we’re off to a great start!

What kind of message does it send about a website like Nutaku when it reaches over 50 million unique users per month? Did you ever expect that you’d reach that milestone?

I think people are starting to notice the interest and demand for adult games, and at the same time, people recognize that the games on our platform are not just sex games, but they’re also high-quality games featuring adult content — a big distinction. 50 million is a huge milestone for us and we’re incredibly proud of our humble beginnings in game development to where we are today.

It was hard to imagine the platform reaching 50 million, but I think, as a team, we were just so dedicated to making the platform a success that the growth was kind of inevitable. It’s hard to imagine where Nutaku will be once we break the stigma surrounding adult gaming and the industry continues to grow.

Galaxy Girls

Developed by Dharker Studio and Brightly Studios, Galaxy Girls was released on Nutaku last month. Credit: Nutaku

Considering that you say that over 30 percent of Nutaku’s traffic comes from the U.S. now, were you shocked in any way to see this statistic? Or did you expect it to be much higher than it is right now?

We weren’t shocked. What really differentiates us from the competition in the Asian market is that our games are in English, so it’s no surprise the majority of our traffic comes from top English-speaking markets around the world. Our efforts are global, so we are definitely right around where we expected to be.

Do you think hentai is only beginning to make a bigger impact in gaming outside of the Asian market?

Hentai gaming is definitely a little behind compared to the Asian market, but I believe the interest of hentai gaming has long been there outside of Asia. I think it was more a matter of the awareness and, as discussed, the stigma surrounding it. It’s definitely in its early stages, though, and we expect the impact to grow in 2018.

Kamihime Project

Kamihime Project, a turn-based RPG title. Credit: Nutaku

Nutaku hosts numerous browser-based titles and provides options to download them. Meanwhile, there are only a few titles on Nutaku that are compatible with mobile devices. Is the next big push going to be getting titles out on both iOS and Android devices?

Yes, absolutely! We’ve been working extremely hard to expand our titles, so gamers can save their progress in their favorite games and play across multiple devices. Everything is trending towards mobile these days, so a big focus of ours in 2018 is to encourage existing games to build [a] mobile browser or app versions of their titles, bringing in new titles exclusive for mobile. I’m excited to say that we have over 20 mobile games currently in the Nutaku pipeline.

Despite figures suggesting that there has been a surge in women on Nutaku, do you not feel the entire idea of the website and, for that matter, the gaming titles on offer do more to deter women away from Nutaku? There would be many critics that would label Nutaku as a platform that promotes sexism and misogyny. How would you respond to that?

I would definitely have to disagree with that sentiment. Many of our users are women and are hentai fans, or they appreciate the artwork and storylines that games offer. I think the fact that people think Nutaku isn’t a place where women can play games, read visual novels, etc. plays into that narrative when it’s not the case at all.

Unfortunately, as the industry is still very young, there haven’t been many games that are targeted towards women, but we do have plans to work with developers to create and distribute titles that cater to the female audiences on Nutaku.

This interview continues on page two, as Mark Antoon talks about Kimochi Red Light, Nutaku’s all-ages website and what the future holds for the adult gaming platform.

Continue to Page 2 →