Liber Entertainment just announced today the service shutdown of I★Chu Étoile Stage (Japanese writing: アイ★チュウ Étoile Stage), an idol-raising mobile game. The service will officially end on June 30th in Japan.
The game launched on April 30, 2020, only in Japan as a successor to I★CHU, a rhythm game released in the summer of 2015 in Japan. Its predecessor maintained an offline version but has been discontinued as of December 2020.
It was estimated that even during the app’s 1 year and 2 months of service, the game made minimal amounts compared to Liber’s most popular title, A3! (which we previewed).
The game played a lot like A3! but tried to set itself apart by adding new training regimens and unique stories for each character. Instead of a theater director, you are a producer. Instead of a theater, you help in a school. Those are just some of the differences.
Unlike A3!, however, it never made its way westward. While an anime adaptation was aired until recently, the game didn’t have any signs of ever getting an overseas release.
It’s hard to accurately say what could have caused Liber to pull the plug on the game, but I think the low sales are a big factor in this, in my opinion. While A3! keeps hitting the Top 10 in the “directed for women (or josei-muke, as it is known in Japanese)” category, Étoile Stage barely made that.
In fact, at the time of this writing, A3!’s Japanese version, according to Game-i (A Japanese website that focuses on measuring the revenue for Japanese mobile games), has over 200 million yen in revenue just this month. In contrast, during iChu’s service, the highest amount in a single month barely scratched the 30 million yen revenue.
While 30 million can look like a lot of money, it doesn’t even scratch the surface of the costs required to maintain servers and, especially, to develop new content for a free mobile game.
Still, I hope this doesn’t mean Liber will kill the iChu franchise. I have hopes that they might make it have a comeback down the line.
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