In Japan, eroge are also referred to as ..
Early eroge had simple stories, often involving rape. It made the PC-8801 popular, but customers quickly tired of paying 8800 yen ($85) for such simple games. Soon, new genres were invented: ASCII's Chaos Angels, a role-playing-based eroge, inspired Dragon Knight by Elf and Rance by AliceSoft.
In 1992, Elf released Dōkyūsei. In it, before any eroticism, the user has to first win the affection of one of a number of female characters, making the story into an interactive romance novel. Thus, the love simulation genre was invented.
Soon afterwards, the video game Otogirisou on the Super Famicom attracted the attention of many Japanese gamers. Otogirisou was a standard adventure game but had multiple endings. This concept was called a "sound novel."
In 1996, the new software publisher Leaf expanded on this idea, calling it a visual novel and releasing their first successful game, Shizuku, a horror story starring a rapist high school student, with very highly reviewed writing and music. Their next game, Kizuato, was almost as dark. However, in 1997, they released To Heart, a sweetly sentimental story of high school love that became one of the most famous and trendsetting eroge ever. To Heart's music was so popular it was added to karaoke machines throughout Japan—a first for eroge.
After a similar game by Tactics, One: Kagayaku Kisetsu e, became a hit in 1998, Visual Art's scouted main creative staff of One to form a new brand under them, which became Key. In 1999, Key released Kanon. It contains only about 7 brief erotic scenes in a sentimental story the size of a long novel (an all-ages version was also released afterward), but the enthusiasm of the response was unprecedented, and Kanon sold over 300,000 copies. In 2002 a 13-episode anime series was produced, as well as another 24-episode anime series in 2006. According to Satoshi TODOME's A History of Eroge, Kanon is still the standard for modern eroge and is referred to as a "baptism" for young otakus in Japan.
Although many eroge still market themselves primarily on sex, eroge that focus on story are now a major established part of Japanese otaku culture.
Only a few small companies, such as Peach Princess, translate eroge into English. Most of the games they release are obscure in Japan, although Kana: Little Sister is moderately well known among Japanese eroge fans.
Recently, there have also been plenty of fan translators of these games. They prioritize on translating high-profile visual novel, mostly eroge that are unlikely to be translated into English due to the heavy translation works and small market. Most of these fan translation groups shunned piracy and only release the translation patches while encouraging people to buy to use the patch with the original copy of the game.
One problem English localization faces is that eroge, like manga and anime, overwhelmingly tend to be about middle school and high school students, but the sexual portrayal of characters under 18 faces greater legal concern and public disapproval in English-speaking markets. To address this, localizers usually change the script so that the characters are over 18 and go to college (e.g. Come see me Tonight and its sequel).