It's taken awhile for dating sims and visual novels to really gain ground in the mainstream western gaming market. Previously the loving work of dedicated fansubbers and translators, North America is finally started to get the games localization it deserves, thanks to the efforts of companies like Idea Factory International.
After all, it's hard to deny that the process is time-consuming at best, since it means translating a novel-sized amount of dialogue (sometimes more depending on the number of branched storylines and endings)... and all of that has to happen after a company casts the eye of judgment on the market it's selling to.
Some of the games that made it huge in Japan (e.g. AMNESIA and Diabolik Lovers) have had to take second stage to game series like Hakuoki (which has enjoyed several years of popularity and game appearances on various Western consoles, handhelds, and mobile devices).
But even niche is winning out as these games really start to rake in the user reviews from fans who just can't get enough. And while Steam has gotten more than its fair share of awful-quality dating sims and visual novels (many of which are available for free), here are some of the best of the best!