My heart is seriously breaking here. I love The Idolmaster series. I’m crazy like that, and have been excited ever since Namco Bandai trademarked The Idolmaster Shiny Festa outside of Japan. I expected localized versions of the three PSP games on the PlayStation Store, which I could then buy and enjoy on my Vita for a reasonable price. Say, around $30 each.
That didn’t happen.
Oh, The Idolmaster Shiny Festa games are now in North America. You can immediately grab The Idolmaster Shiny Festa: Melodic Disc, The Idolmaster Shiny Festa: Harmonic Score and The Idolmaster Shiny Festa Rhythmic Record right now. However, you’ll need $54.99 and an iOS device to do it. Bump that purchase price up to $164.97, if you want all three.
Give me a moment, let me clear my throat. Okay. I’m ready.
Namco Bandai, what the hell are you thinking?! Yes, I know this game is part of an established, beloved series in Japan and isn’t even a year old there yet, but still! This will be most people’s first exposure to the series! No one will pay $54.99 for one of these games. I don’t think even PSP and Vita owners would have paid $54.99 a pop if these had shown up on the PlayStation Store! And you’re releasing them on iTunes, land of the $0.99 and $1.99 games! Do you like wasting money? Because that’s what the release of The Idolmaster Shiny Festa trio is for you right now.
Of course, this situation gets even more ridiculous. Brace yourselves, because you could IMPORT a PSP copy of The Idolmaster Shiny Festa: Honey Sound from Play-Asia for $49.90! That price would include free shipping, by the way. Don’t let the name fool you, that’s just what The Idolmaster Shiny Festa: Harmonic Score is called in Japan. I bet many people would even argue that’s the best of the three, since it has Haruka, Chihaya, Azusa and Ritsuko in it. At the very least, it could be considered the one with the three best singers. The Idolmaster Shiny Festa: Rhythmic Record is pretty awesome as well, since it has Miki, Makoto, Takane and Yukiho. It’s mainly The Idolmaster Shiny Festa: Melodic Disc that could kill eardrums with Yayoi, Iori, Hibiki and Ami & Mami.
Really, the whole release is just tainted now. Instead of using The Idolmaster Shiny Festa as a genuine opportunity to gauge interest in the series outside of Japan, Namco Bandai is setting it up to fail. The series is known for its console installments, having most of its main releases appearing on the Xbox 360 and PS3. Even when it did appear on handhelds, it was limited to the PSP and DSi. Yes, The Idolmaster Shiny Festa is the easiest in the series since it’s just about tapping along to music and removes the idol raising simulation elements, but still. That doesn’t mean you stick it on iTunes and hope the casual market picks it up.
Of course, there’s no way that would happen with that price. A $55 iTunes game doesn’t fly in this economic market. It doesn’t even happen on the 3DS and Vita. It’s ridiculous. Seeing that kind of price leads people to assume either one of two things. Either Namco Bandai has gotten greedy or it doesn’t want the game to sell.
The Idolmaster is a great series of games and I would recommend The Idolmaster 2 and The Idolmaster SP, the two installments I’ve played, to anyone with a PS3, Xbox 360 or PSP. It deserves better than this. People should actually have a chance to play it and see if they’d enjoy the series. Plopping The Idolmaster Shiny Festa on iTunes at $55 isn’t going to make that happen. Namco Bandai’s got to drop the price. Oh, and since the company seems to be okay with frivolously spending money, put them on the Vita PlayStation Store too.