DJMax May Be 2014’s First Game Franchise Casualty

We have sad news for rhythm game fans, as evidence is mounting that the modern hit DJMax might be done  as a franchise.

Coming from South Korean developer Pentavision, DJ Max is a timing based rhythm game, based on hitting buttons that represent song notes. The game also boasted a combo and meter system based on hitting said buttons correctly one after another.

The franchise began in 2004 with DJMax Online, a web-only game for Windows playable only in Korea, Japan, and China. Subsequent ports grew a fanbase in PSP and the arcade. The game became largely popular with DJMax Technika, a spinoff which eschews traditional controls for gloriously gigantic touch screens.

2013 was to be the franchise’s biggest year yet, but bit by bit, the bad news came trickling in. DJMax Technika Tune for the Vita faced distribution problems, releasing behind schedule and failing to get stocked in major retailers like GameStop and Amazon.

And then, the franchise’s first mobile installment, DJMax Technika Q for Kakao, is announced for iOS and Android. At this point in time Pentavision had been acquired by NeoWiz, and Pentavision’s logo is conspicuously absent from its release. Technika Q is only released in South Korea, and barely makes a blip in the radar.

Hardcore fans see troubling signs behind the scenes. Pentavision community manager Eddie leaves the company after Technika Tune, and dev Planetboom reveals in November he has also already left. This December, Japanese publisher Cyberfront is dissolved without warning, and then NeoWiz announces they are taking DJMax Technika’s features offline, meaning arcade machines no longer have access to as much as 80 % of the game’s content.

To cap things off, after a long silence on Facebook, the official DJMax  page is taken over by Jinho, a South Korean fan, and turned into a fan page. He explains that the only game seeing active development is South Korea exclusive DJMax Technika Q.

Elaborating further, he explains that the status of Technika Tune DLC is unclear, but at the moment, the Vita game has no developers. Apparently, he has found evidence that Neowiz might still be interested in bringing Technika Q globally, but lacking official word, this is highly unlikely.

And so, a relatively new hit arcade franchise meets an unceremonious end after merely a decade. I personally found Technika in a local arcade only recently, and was worried when I saw the machine temporarily removed, but now I’m just saddened to discover this news myself. I’m sure others will better assess if this is a sign of the short term popularity of music games, or take something else out of it, but as for me, I’m making sure to check the machine I play with as soon as I can.