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A possible reason for this is that VNs straddle two unlike mediums—video games and novels—in a way that does not always appeal to fans of either.
Those who prefer novels may rather read a book without having to stop to physically interact with the story, and those who prefer video games may rather play something more fast-paced that requires less reading.
Many are dating sims, in which players try to win over characters by choosing certain dialogue or action options, and many others are puzzle-based mystery games (referred to as “adventure games” in Japan) in which players must complete minigames in order to progress the story.
Although countless VNs, especially those made in Japan, have been brought back as animated films or TV series, there is often a sense of loss in those adaptations.
Players are made to feel a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the game, possibly so that they will feel more attached to the story and its characters.
The developers of (2007 onwards) also deserve mention (though the latter is not considered a VN due to its lack of narration).
However, there are some similarities that can be seen across much of the most popular VNs such that it is not too difficult to visualise a stereotypical VN.
You might picture a dating simulator featuring anime-style art and tropes, or a murder mystery featuring interactive puzzles.