This anime girl derby mobile game is invading Japan

Pretty Derby Uma Musume, which translates to “Horse Girl Pretty Derby, ” is a racing game inspired by real racehorses played by anime-style girls (yes, that’s… one thing). Sure, the concept may raise a few eyebrows, but the overwhelming popularity of this game is not to be mocked.

Since its release on February 24, 2021, the game Pretty Derby Uma Musume, or just Uma Museum, quickly gained momentum and exceeded 9 million downloads as of July 20. Last month the game celebrated its six-month anniversary, and it was a hot topic, not least because there were some surprise giveaways for users, such as jewelry and the Silence Suzuka character as a login bonus.

In Uma Musume Pretty Derby, the anime girls are your runners. Image courtesy of Cygames via Headline Asia.

Whenever new information is announced, the associated keywords instantly become hot topics on Twitter in Japan. There has even been an increase in the number of people using the game’s soundtrack on TikTok. Even if you’ve never played the game itself, there are probably a lot of people who have seen the word “Uma Musume” on social media sites. In this article, we take a close look at the success factors of Uma Museum.

In the training simulation game, you work as a trainer with your “horse” to win races. At first glance, Uma Museum is your standard free mobile app, but in fact, Uma Museum is a multimedia entity that has been developed through anime, manga, and other media. Of course, the goal of these other mediums was always to bring attention back to the gaming app, which monetizes gameplay through gachas. In the manga and the anime, the universe is the same but the plots are different. This allows the Uma Museum fandom to access the different facets of the universe.

But success did not come overnight. The Uma Museum project launched in March 2016. It was announced at AnimeJapan 2016 held in Tokyo Big Sight. The manga was then published on Cygames’ webcomic Saikomi from May to September 2016. A 13-episode animated television series adaptation by PA Works ran from April to June 2018. It was followed by a second season of Studio Kai which ran from January to March 2021. An adaptation of the animated television series from the manga spin-off Umayon aired from July to September 2020. Another second season of the animated television series aired in the summer of 2020.

Initially, the game was scheduled for release in winter 2018, but after a nearly three-year delay, it was finally released on February 24, 2021. The explanation behind the extended wait was to improve the quality of the game, and to in all respects the postponement has paid off. For fans who enjoyed Uma Museum in comics and cartoons it was a long awaited game app version.

Presentation of the game

The gist of the game is training your “horse” (or rather, an animated avatar girl with ears and a ponytail) to win races. The training sessions distinguish Uma Museum other gacha games. If you’ve ever played a simulation game, you’ll be in familiar territory.

There are more than 70 unique Uma Museum characters. Each of them has different characteristics, such as “ease of training” and “appropriate distance”. The key to winning races is to train each of the avatars with these characteristics in mind. Practice mode is at the heart of the gameplay. However, raising a bunch of characters without any other possibility would almost certainly be a bit empty. That’s why there are a few other modes where you can show off your characters.

The racing part is where you can enjoy the powerful races of the avatars you have trained. The results of the race are decided by the AI, so once the race begins you have no choice but to trust the character you have trained. Sometimes the results depend on luck. After each race, a “Winning Live” is organized where the winners perform a dance.

The more races you win, the more songs you can watch, and once a song is played you can watch it as many times as you want. The main content of the game covers training, racing and watching live performances, but you can also use the “support card” system to improve your rider’s abilities, or the horseback training system. friendship to interact with and go out with other riders. Using this type of content will not only strengthen the character, but also make the game more enjoyable for the users.

What makes Uma Musume unique?

# 1. A tribute to the real horses of history

History buffs will love this fact. One of the main reasons why Uma Museum became a success because its characters are based on real famous horses that have lived. There’s Tokai Teio, Daiwa Scarlet, and Special Week, whose heart-wrenching, real-life story is actually part of the character’s story.

A photo of Special Week (left) and its corresponding character in Uma Musume. Image courtesy of Cygames and Headline Asia.

Special Week’s mother, who was also a racehorse, died shortly after giving birth to Special Week. However, Special Week broke all records, as evidenced by his first place in the 1998 Japanese Derby (Tokyo Yushun), his back-to-back wins at the 1999 Tennou-sho (Spring and Fall), and missing the once among the first three in 17 career races in the Kyoto Taisho-sen at the age of five. According to the official website, Uma MuseumThe week’s special is “honest, cheerful and hardworking.” Her mother passed away shortly after her birth and she was placed in the care of her mother’s best friend, a human woman. Even the way the character is drawn is a tribute to the animal. The white toupee on Uma Musume’s The Special Week head is believed to be a faithful reflection of the elongated white star in the middle of the horse’s forehead.

The history of famous horses, their appearances, their personalities and all of that plays into the high level of achievement of their characters in the game. This respect for history fascinates players.

Of course, not all of them are realistic reflections of actual stories, like Silence Suzuka. She was also an excellent horse, but suffered a breakdown in the 118th Tennou-sho (fall) race in 1998 – when she was the overwhelming favorite – and was ultimately euthanized. However, in the game, Silence Suzuka is a very strong character. In other words, through the Uma Museum game, you can experience the alternate story that never happened in the real world, and this is what makes horse racing fans so passionate about the game. Horse racing fans will also be fascinated by the game. realism of live coverage during races.

Uma Musume races are sprints involving the anime girls from the game. Screenshot by Headline Asia.

# 2. A simulation structure that keeps players coming back

Uma Museum has complex play structure for training simulation game. As mentioned earlier, this is not a simple game as you have to develop each of your characters based on their individuality and characteristics.

In addition, there is a trait called “Inheritance” which allows you to impart the abilities of a Uma Museum who has been inducted into the Hall of Fame, or whose training has been completed, to another character that you will train in the future. This is a very attractive feature that encourages users to keep training and raising different “horse girls”, in order to combine them for even more advanced abilities.

# 3. Extremely powerful graphics for a mobile game

The three-year deadline for the game’s release was intended to improve the quality of its graphics and gameplay, and it certainly shows. We were pleasantly surprised with the quality of the graphics for a mobile game. During races and live performances, users can actually change the camera angle as they like for a different view.

Uma Musume in figures

According to a financial report by CyberAgent, the parent company of Cygames, which manages Pretty Derby Uma Musume, the company reported sales of JPY 192.2 billion (US $ 1.75 billion) and operating income of JPY 44.5 billion (US $ 405 million) for the quarter from April to June 2021.

This amount would represent a 70.3% increase in sales and a 540% increase in operating profit compared to the previous year, which represents a phenomenal growth rate. CyberAgent is engaged in three main activities: games, advertising and media. Although its media business is in the red, the advertising and gaming businesses are extremely profitable.

Since the release of Uma Museum started, the gaming industry’s profit margin has been huge. Between October and December 2020, before the launch of Pretty Derby Uma Musume, sales were JPY 29.9 billion (USD 272 million), down 15% year-on-year, and operating income at JPY 1.1 billion (USD 10 million), down 77, 8% year-on-year, both down from the previous year.

In February 2021, afterUma Musume, January to March 2021, sales jumped to JPY 63.9 billion (USD 581 million), up 42.7% year-on-year, while operating income rose to JPY 23.2 billion (USD 211 million), up 122.3% year-on-year. The operating margin was around 36%.

In the third quarter of April to June 2021, sales were JPY 92.3 billion ($ 840 million), up 151.7% year-on-year. Operating income was JPY 44.2 billion (US $ 402 billion), up 483.5% year-on-year. The operating margin was around 47%.

CyberAgent’s media business reported revenue of JPY 19.9 billion (USD 181 billion) for the period April to June 2021, up 48.7% from the previous year, but an operating loss of 3.8 billion JPY (34.6 million USD). However, the number of downloads from ABEMA, which is the central support of this media activity, has steadily increased since its release on April 11, 2016, exceeding 68 million downloads in five years and three months of operation. operation.

The television animation of Pretty Derby Uma Musume is also broadcast on ABEMA. However, as experienced investors know, if we only focus on profiting from a certain company, things can look negative. In order to generate continuous profits in the medium and long term, it is necessary to have a big picture of the company and to examine the interrelationships between these companies, whether they are in the red or in the black. . The point is that one cannot ignore the media mix aspect of Uma Museum as a primary factor in its success.

We are excited to see how Uma Musume will continue to attract users and grow its business in the future.

This item was originally published on Headline Asia’s Medium site. It is republished here with permission from Asia Title.

About Bernice D. Brewer

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