A Few Notes about Shiny Festa iOS…

Posted by DiGiKerot in Gaming, idolmaster at April 23, 2013 on 6:06 pm

Not that I’ve been able to play it, since BaNam haven’t seen fit to grace these good shores with it’s availability – some joke referencing “The World Is All One” and telling them to stuff their “Unity Mind” would likely be appropriate here, were I feeling up to the necessary level of witticism. I’d be curious to know if there’s any specific reason for it’s lack of local availability, but I wouldn’t like to speculate on that specific point.

Anyway, the Internet exploded with a whole load of annoyed shouting and a whole boatload of misinformation when the games surfaced in the US AppStore yesterday. This, mostly, comes down to the fact that it’s three games priced at $55 a piece, which even I admit is a little on the steep side.

Don’t conflate this with me thinking that it’s ludicrously overpriced, though – I think the “race to the bottom” pricing on iOS apps has created a highly toxic market and massively unrealistic expectations in terms of game pricing. You really shouldn’t be expecting to get a game of the degree of polish of a Shiny Festa for the sub-$10 pricing that people seem to expect on the platform (well, sub-$1 in a lot of cases) without the introduction of some really skeezy business practices.

Speaking of skeezy business practices, the DLC bogieman has been rearing it’s head here as well, in so much as the games apparently, as they download, have less material in that the equivalent PSP title. I’ll just say that, as far as I’ve been able to ascertain from trawling forums and the inter webs (again, I can’t even buy the bloody game here!), all the presently released DLC, which will take you up to the same level of content as the PSP game, is available for free. This isn’t to say that there won’t be paid DLC in the future, obviously, but if there is, it’ll not be previously released content.

As for why they’ve chosen to split the game up like that, well, these are big games – aside from the 24 minute OAV (at four times the resolution of the PSP version!), every song in the game features two different videos which the game switches between dependant on your performance. It’s a pretty bloaty game in terms of file space – with everything installed, it’s over the region of three GB in size, which is a pretty big ask for a lot of iOS users. This at least permits the release of a smaller footprint base download, with the other content available on an adhoc basis for those with the space. One could argue that a cheaper base download, with charges for DLC, would have caused fewer arguments, but I don’t think they’d be willing to cut the price so low that they’d avert them.

So, basically, what BaNam have released is an iOS game based on a six-month old (not five year old, as some news sources reported!) PSP game, at the same price as the PSP game, with the same content (in higher fidelity) as the PSP game in, Japan – that $55 price point is a direct conversion of how much they’re flogging this for on it’s home turf. The games availability is opened up for specific regions, but the price is set once and applies to all regions in which it’s available, hence they’ve set the pricing for the local market.

Here’s the thing – Japanese games look really, really expensive to foreigners these days. This is what happens when a platforms price points are set a levels which were more or less globally equal ten years ago, only for several of the foreign currencies to crash in comparative value. This is why Persona Punchmans (still not out in Europe, by the way) was region-locked on PS3, because changes in exchange rate means the prices what US and Japanese PS3 and 360 games are expected to release at now are wildly disproportionate. You can’t expect a Japanese game, made mainly for the Japanese market, by Japanese staff being paid Japanese wages to be released at prices which reflect a modern foreign, rather than Japanese, market. Shiny Festa is an even more extreme example of this than Persona, being even more niche in both Japan and the US.

As for why they’ve set the price at the level they have, which, again, even I agree is probably $15 too steep, and most of Japan would likely agree with too? Well, it’s become increasingly obvious to me in recent times that Japanese soft-houses are really concerned with maintaining the perceived value of a products worth. Launching something at $20 would probably bag them extra sales in the short term, but it’s not a very long-tailed view to take for the iM@S franchise, particularly for their first legitimate foray (excluding the US stream of the anime, and Xenoglossia, obviously) into the West. Releasing what is essentially still a new iM@S title at a lower price sets an expectation as to what the price of an iM@S game is actually worth – it’ll start to make people expect that the next game they release in the series will also be at that price, even if it wasn’t a port of an existing title (and how long after the initial launch you can get away with charging full price for a port of is another discussion entirely).

It might have been a different case if this was clearly an iOS-only mini-game or something less feature rich (which didn’t, say, include an OAV), but it’s literally a feature-equivalent version of a relatively recent PSP game. They’ve got no choice but to release it at the same price as the PSP version without damaging the perceived value of the brand. Now, they can half the price in six months time without any issue, and they probably will, but the important thing here is that the game is available at this release price for a reasonable window of time, because it sets the expectation as to what the franchise is worth.

It’s pretty much the same tact that Aniplex have started taking with many of their anime titles in the US – it’s a balancing game between reducing the price to a level more acceptable to more people against how much additional profit that’ll immediately bring in, also against how that’ll damage the perceived value in the future.

Funny thing is that, if the game is literally a direct port of the PSP version, there’s soooo much they could be nickel-and-dime-ing the player on if they had chosen to release the game at a lower price. There’s all sorts of aesthetic and performance-enhancing things they could be charging for, and many iOS games do, should they have chosen to. You want to change all your audio cues to Azusa saying “Ara”? That’s five bucks… or not, since they’re all still unlocks with in-game currency.

As for why the first English version is on iOS rather than PSP, well, it’s probably mostly down to the fact that they were doing the iOS port anyway and figured it wouldn’t be too much work to include multiple language support in the executable whilst they were at it. By the looks of things the effort was something that was undertaken entirely by the Japanese staff (hence HOOBIES and a few other translation SNAFU’s), but by coming to iOS, it’s something that’s allowed them to almost completely bypass the US part of the company, where there was likely to be more resistance to a PSP release were it to take any actual effort. I mean, they needed none of their localisation staff, and didn’t have to go through Sony concept approval or certification on the product, and didn’t have to re-engineer existing code – even the website is hanging off the Japanese one.

It’s possibly not the thing to say when I’m trying to partially justify the cost, but this likely wasn’t an expensive product to throw together – it’s not a complicated game engine, given that it’s mostly just a relatively simply game running over a (pair of) videostreams, and probably didn’t cost them that much to port over. It’s an exercise I doubt they’d have done if it was going to cost them any significant monies, given that the PSP is prevalent enough of a platform in Japan that there is likely a 100% intersection for iM@S fanboys and PSP owners. Most people particularly interested in this game likely have their preferred PSP editions already. Things like having to pay for certification through Sony or Microsoft would likely have made it prohibitively expensive an effort for what’s likely a small market even in Japan – the fact that not that many people will pick it up on iOS likely isn’t that much of an issue because it probably wasn’t that much of a development outlay. The uber-fans – the 10% who make the franchise popular buy picking up all the DLC on the main titles – will likely continue to be milked through new songs in the future, and the exercise will ultimately make it’s development costs back.

If anything, I have to wonder if it’s the Japanese iM@S staff trying to prove that, even at a crazy price, that there is actually some degree of interest in the property outside of Japan, and it might actually be worth porting one of the actual main console games over at some point. I wouldn’t confuse this, however, with a serious effort to push the title outside Japan, or much other than a curious afterthought. Japan is the main audience, so they’ll price the game for Japan.

TL;DR – Sorry, but if you’re complaining about the cost, than you probably aren’t the market for this..

As for the game, there’s a limited amount I can actually say about it given I’ve not been able to play the iOS port, but it’s pretty much the same as the PSP game as far as I can see. The game only used two inputs anyway – left presses and right presses. These were mapped to the d-pad and left shoulder buttons for left presses, and the other buttons for right presses. For the iOS version, these have been intuitively mapped to, well, tapping on the left or right sides of the screens. I’d imagine it works well enough. From what I’ve seen, it looks like the rest of the games content is all there – the one video I’ve seen of the menu had the anime and Star of Festa modes in there, at least. The games, basically, look to have PSP content parity.

As for which game to get, well… a lot of that depends on your preferred characters, I guess, though purely on the list of songs available, I’d give Melodic Disc the nod for having the highest average song quality, though Harmonic Score’s Vault that Borderline is my favourite new game-specific song, and Rhythmic Record has LOBM. Just bear in mind that six of the twenty songs available in each version are in all three of them.


I have to kind of disagree with your point about market.

I think a lot of people are interested in im@s, and Shiny Festa is a great entry game (rather, games) especially for casuals (which probably explains why it’s ported to iOS). They could make the pricing work. The framework is there for them to sell it for $20 or $40 with only 2/3 of the content and let you pay extra for the rest, or something. Maybe there’s a reason why they couldn’t.

Most people who complain about the price just aren’t thinking it through in terms of why things are priced that way. But I think there’s definitely room for people to get into this game at a lower price point. Bamco’s hands are probably tied in this case, though.

FWIW, I’m totally getting Rhythmic Record first (as the owner of Groovy Tune). If I have a true complaint, it would be that now i have 3 more sets of English terms to get confused over. How hard is it for them to keep using the same terms?


FWIW, I’m totally getting Rhythmic Record first (as the owner of Groovy Tune). If I have a true complaint, it would be that now i have 3 more sets of English terms to get confused over. How hard is it for them to keep using the same terms?

Yeah, I’ve got no idea why they went and changed the names either. Seems like the kind of random thing that, perhaps, a proper localisation team would have stopped them from doing.

I don’t entirely disagree with there having been a more sensible way for them to price it, though I think they’d probably have to drop those OAVs, at least, to make it workable.

Steven Den Beste

The dollar has risen about 50% relative to the yen in the last six months. I assume the exchange rate with the pound has been similar.

The Bank of Japan is trying to drive down the yen, especially relative to the renminbi.

Leave a Comment