Downloads (the primary metric by which groups measure their success) are down across the board even as anime itself keeps gaining steam in the English-speaking world.
Hell, even when fansubs can release their subs before official options, they will invariably get fewer downloads. No asterisk needed; it always happens.
FFF released a full two days before Crunchyroll, yet HorribleSubs is nearly tripling their numbers.
The saddest part? This is observable on fansubbing’s “last bastion”: nyaa.se. Fansubbers decided to circlejerk the wagons and go all-in on Nyaa torrents to the point where they organized fucking boycotts of all other sites.
Really guys, there are cuter ways to commit suicide.
If you go outside of Nyaa and look at the streaming sites (you know, where people actually go to get their anime fix), officialsubs dominate. With a few exceptions, the illegal streaming sites have no interest in making their bed with fansubs. And for the success of legal options… well, when was the last time you saw a fansub group sponsoring an anime con?
Some argue that even if downloads are down, as long as fansub releases still get downloads at all, they’re successful. Everybody wins, right?
You pranking me right now?
Assuming these people are serious, If you aren’t playing to win, you might as well not be playing at all.
Groups are quick to complain about how it’s not “fair” that HorribleSubs gets more attention than they do, the brainless fucks. Here, let me clue you in on something:
Fansubs are not the fucking product. People do not fucking care about typesetting. They do not care about encode quality. They do not care about editing, karaoke, or timing. All the people want is anime. And they want to get it reliably. What you’re selling is the distribution of anime via your subtitles.
Fansubs have forgotten this shit as insularity became their primary goal.
Let’s just take a look at a few of the decisions the fansub scene has made in the past few years that pushed people away:
Changing encoding standards from a strongly supported format (8-bit) to an unstable, unproven one (10-bit) was as boneheaded a move as you can make. Mac and mobile users were completely shut out for a long time. And it’s still not handled perfectly across all platforms.
Whatever benefit was gained from adopting this standard was lost when people jumped ship for releases that actually catered to them. Short-sighted stupidity.
One-site, torrent-based distribution was a stupid fucking idea. Compared to streaming sites’ click-and-play functionality, the standard process fansubbing recommends is entirely “cost”-prohibitive. Not only do people need to acquire specific software to watch shows, they need to either pay for a seedbox or use a local torrent client and hope they don’t get used as an example by some company’s legal department.
XDCC’s even worse and more convoluted, so don’t even come at me with that fucking bullshit, fansubbers. Nobody should be surprised that people don’t want to jump through hoops for their entertainment. This shit ain’t supposed to be an obstacle course.
Take-it-or-leave it release options
You can’t win where you don’t compete. And fansubbers don’t compete at the high-end (1080p) or low-end (480p, hardsubs) anymore. Humorously, the audience of those release types (as seen with HorribleSubs numbers), when consolidated, is often larger than the standard, 720p audience fansub releases are scrambling for.
While hindsight is 20/20, I already called the scene out on some of this bullshit back in 2012. My sagacity is clearly unparalleled.