Sunday, 28 April 2013

BLOG -- My Beef With The Idolm@ster Shiny Festa in North America... PART 2

So... I'm going to be blogging about this... again. My reason for it is this:

After my last blog, one of my friends contacted me, telling me he was in favour of Namco Bandai's choice of localizing Idolm@ster Shiny Festa on iOS (yes, I'm revealing the company -- dun dun duuuun! Well, it's not really a surprise -- anybody can find out by looking up the game anyway). Well, I responded, going into more detail about why it was the wrong choice. Then we went back and forth for a while -- sometimes my text responses were as long as six pages. And then I realized something: I could just write another blog about it, hahaha. That way, I'll have a record of it, and well, everybody else can see it, too. So... another rant we go!

By the way, we both were in agreement to the $54.99 price being a ridiculous decision by Namco, but just to fully elaborate on everything wrong with Idolm@ster Shiny Festa being released the way it is, I will go over it again.

Releasing Idolm@ster Shiny Festa on iOS
There are multiple things wrong with this decision. When I think about it, my head sometimes hurt because of everything that floats through my mind. Let me try to list it out:

-iOS is a different platform from the PSP, the original platform it was released on.
-This is released for the iOS but not for the android (or PSP digitally)
-iOS owners are not PSP owners
-iOS owners do not equal to Idolm@ster players

The main issues here revolve around fan expectations, poor public relations, accessibility, and... well... guessing Namco's motivation behind their decision, but knowing that it won't be fulfilled. And I have to say... all of these factors are inter-connected.

Being originally released on the PSP, current fans were expecting a PSP release with this game. Some could have been saving up just to buy a PSP. Some could have already purchased a PSP in anticipation to play the game. For those who already own a PSP, imagine their reaction at finding out that Idolm@ster Shiny Festa was released for the iOS -- a device that they might not already own. I'm in that group. I already own a PSP, so I was only expecting to buy the game -- not the game PLUS another device. Those who don't own a PSP was expecting to buy the game and the PSP, which isn't a surprise for them.

When I think about iOS, I think about the iPhone. I've never had plans to own an iPhone, and I definitely wouldn't make that investment just to play one game. But Idolm@ster Shiny Festa is also available for the iPad 2 (or higher) or the iPod Touch. When I think about those other two, I think of this: expensive and not really needed. The iPad 2 is costly -- end of discussion. As for the iPod Touch: I already have an MP3 player. I don't need an iPod Touch. In the end, owning an i-device is just an extra expense for me -- an extra expensive expense.

Now, I don't think fans would be so outraged as they are now if Namco handled the release of this in a more acceptable way. They could have given more notice about the decision. You know -- so the fans could at least prepare for it and have more time to get used to the idea. What kind of notice did we get? Nothing. 

They also could have -- and this is super important -- given us a reason for the decision. Why is Idolm@ster Shiny Festa released for iOS instead of the PSP? If it is because the PSP is truly dead -- and it is not digitally compatible with the PSVita (no idea if this is true) -- and releasing it on the iOS would ensure the game's longevity and reaching a wider audience -- then why not just say so? Believe it or not, fans deserve to know this kind of stuff, especially since the game is so niche (thus the fans are also niche). This kinda ties in with my next thing: Namco's motivation behind releasing Idolm@ster Shiny Festa on the iOS.

I think anybody can imagine why Namco did what they did. I mentioned my guess in the above paragraph: to ensure the game's longevity, and to reach a wider audience. While those are valid points, there are still issues with this. I think they needed to ponder a few more things before making this decision:

1. Who are we really trying to reach with this release?
2. How many current fans own an i-device?
3. How many current fans own a PSP?

I'm stressing so much about the current fanbase, because, well, since Idolm@ster Shiny Festa is a niche title, I believe that their target market has to be the current fans first -- and then i-device owners. It will be the current fans who will spread the awareness to everybody else. And I still don't believe that Namco could really be targeting anybody else (because of the horrible pricing -- will be explained later). 

Right now, these are the fans Namco is reaching:

-Fans of Idolm@ster games who own a compatible i-device

They are not reaching:

-Fans of Idolm@ster games who don't own a compatible i-device.

Here are the fans they could have reached by releasing it on the PSP:

-Every Idolm@ster fan who were planning to purchase the game from the beginning. Those who had no plans wouldn't have complained (because a release on this platform is what they expected).

Now, if they released it on the iOS, and PSP (digitally), and android, Namco would reach:

-Everybody who were planning to buy it, and those who wanted it but didn't have a PSP.

Idolm@ster Shiny Festa is $54.99
I'm not going to go into much detail for what's wrong with this. The pricetag just says it all. I mean, how many people would purchase an iOS game for $54.99? A PSP game, at most, would be $50. So $54.99 is kinda like a super-premium pricepoint. This is also why I refuse to believe that Namco is targeting anybody else besides the current fanbase. Also, purchasing it would imply support for the game and also the possibility of future games to be released on the iOS. Those who don't want to send the latter message, will definitely NOT get it.

But... do you know who would purchase this specific game for $54.99 (some with hesitation, but would still get it)? The current fanbase. You know who would tell others that this game is worth the price? The current fanbase.

Then... this goes full circle to: who are they really reaching with releasing Idolm@ster Shiny Festa on the iOS? Only part of the current fanbase. Without the PR notifications and explanation about why they decided to go this route instead of releasing it on the PSP, the other part of the current fanbase is alienated and cut off. The iOS becomes a barrier to purchasing the game -- a barrier that never had to exist in the first place! The expensive $54.99 pricepoint becomes a barrier to everybody else, deterring fanbase growth.

And this is why Namco's decision to release Idolm@ster Shiny Festa on iOS only (and for $54.99) was the wrong move. I believe that for a niche title like Idolm@ster Shiny Festa, the current fanbase has to be reached, because they will be the ones to buy the product. Sadly, if this game doesn't sell well, it could mean an ax on future Idolm@ster localizations, with them blaming it on the game instead of this thought: well, it might have sold well if we released it on a platform that reached the people who wanted to play it.

To anybody who read all this, thank you (for reading it and putting up with my rant)! Have a great week! :)

1 comment:

  1. LOL! My reply is too long for a comment. So check out me blog!