“Love Live! School Idol Festival 2 Miracle Live!” to launch in February, shut down in May
It’s a bad day to be a Western Love Live fan, as Klabs has announced that School Idol Festival 2 Miracle Live (try saying that three times fast) will be launching globally in February…and then shutting down in May. The Japanese version is also set to shutter in March. Yes, you’ve read that right, they’ve announced that they’re launching the game globally…and that it’ll also be shutting down in only a few months anyway.
For those not familiar, the Love Live franchise is a series comprising books, manga, games and anime that focuses on the careers of high-school idols. Many of the games focus on the management and development of the careers of both solo idols and entire groups. It’s also hugely successful, bringing in millions of dollars from the revenue of its multimedia products for owners Bandai Namco, Kadokawa and Sunrise.
So why is this massively popular Japanese franchise, which also has a large international fanbase, making such a strange move? We know that it wasn't one of the best mobile anime games, but still...
Aside from the bizarre messaging involved, the decision to launch despite this vanishingly short timeframe of service is excessive even by the standards of Japanese studios. Square Enix at least waited for close to a year before shuttering some of their newly released games last year after all.
Is it REALLY worth it?Now, School Idol Festival 2 Miracle Live has been out in Japan for a lot longer, and that’s the primary market for franchises like Love Live. Idol culture is a relatively small part of the international audience, after all (aside from hardcore otakus). We are, in fact, looking at a game that has clearly been localised and ported at great effort by the developers involved. But clearly, it hasn’t done enough to build up staying power, with the game having only launched in April last year for Japanese players.
Is this a further sign of layoffs and cutbacks reaching deeper into the market? So much so that it was set for cancellation before launch? We’d suspect so, or at least that this played some part in it. Whatever the actual reason for this is, it does send a very, very strange message. And that message is “We’re not sure what we’re doing.” Especially when the previous entry closed only last year.
Love, live, dieIt’d probably be excessive to read too much into this as a broader issue with the mobile gaming world. And probably unfair on the hundreds of studios that have managed to maintain long-term support with recently released games. But it does represent a worrying decision on the part of developers Klabs. Are other studios going to do the same?
There’s a thing in business called ‘consumer confidence’, and it’s the faith that paying customers have in your product to deliver. For example, if you make baked beans and these beans were found to, say, cause explosions, in 1% of customers then your consumer confidence is likely to drop sharply. If you say “Our games may release for only three months before shutting down”, that’s worrying, if you say “Our game is only releasing for three months, and that’s a fact”, then it’s disastrous.
Of course, you might just be dismissive of the whole thing. After all, if one game from a relatively niche franchise decides to fleece its players for their hard-earned cash, what’s the issue for other gamers? Well, it’s important to remember that big games like this can serve as a litmus test, and if this proves successful - if the studio is able to turn a profit in even this brief release window - we may see other developers and corporations start making similar decisions. But there’s the rub, who - even the most dedicated Love Live enthusiast - would spend either money, or indeed time, knowing this game is only around for a brief window?
Moment of ZenNow, stepping back for a moment, we're not about to imply this is some kind of canary in the proverbial coal mine and that this will become standard practice for all studios in the future. But we are certainly saying it’s an incredibly bizarre story and decision to make. It’s not great for players, and it’s not even great for people who cover games - what kind of game can you justify dedicating pages of coverage to if it’s only around for three months?
It’s especially ironic that, right as a multimedia franchise is stumbling, we've also seen other groups like Cygames who are also strong in mobile expanding into anime and multimedia efforts that have been well-received. It’s a strange reversal of the trend, and there’s something to be said for the idea of market oversaturation.
We’re still confident that this could remain exactly what it is right now, a weird outlying story that we can all have a good chuckle about. But that doesn’t change the fact that any gaming market where this CAN happen is certainly not in the healthiest of states…
What do you think? Do you care? Do you not? Leave us a comment and let us know!
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