Anime streaming site Crunchyroll is publishing its first mobile game, Memoria Freese. It’s based on the popular anime series Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, otherwise known as “Dan-Machi,” which is an abbreviation of the Japanese title. The original Memoria Freese debuted in Japan in 2017, and Crunchyroll has teamed up with developer Gree to localize and distribute it in English. Starting today, it’s available to play on iOS and Android devices for free.
Dan-Machi started out as an illustrated novel series by author Fujino Ōmori and illustrator Suzuhito Yasuda. It follows teenaged protagonist Bell Cranel as he goes on adventures and searches for treasure in dungeons in a fantasy world. It takes its cue from fantasy role-playing games, as its characters level up within the story and gain new skills.
The books have been adapted into manga and anime series, which proved to be popular. And the Japanese version of the mobile game Memoria Freese (which fans refer to as “Dan-Memo”) sold over three million copies in the first month, according to Gree. The game is an RPG that features turn-based combat, and players can choose to play as one of four characters.
Joellen Ferrer is the vice president of communications at Ellation, Crunchyroll’s parent company. She says that it’s been interested in exploring games for a while, and one reason it decided to take on Memoria Freese as its first project is because a new season of the anime is coming out soon. Another reason is because of the Crunchyroll audience.
“The other part, you may have heard this already, but 90 percent of our community — this is about 35 million registered users and more than a million subscribers — 90 percent of them self-identify as gamers,” said Ferrer in a phone call with GamesBeat.
Crunchyroll has flirted with the gaming community in other ways before. It has teamed up with the broadcasting platform Twitch for anime marathons, and it also livestreamed its annual anime awards show on that site.
“It’s an ongoing conversation and an audience we think is definitely ripe for anime,” said Ferrer. “It’s a natural fit. It’s something we’re continuing to work together — not only with Twitch, but to figure out other ways to try to reach the gaming audience and see, A, if they already are fans they may want a bit of nudging into some of our content; but B, if there’s also a way for us to introduce them to new shows they may realize they love and can’t live without.”
It’s not the only anime-focused company that’s experimenting with games. Manga publisher Viz Media announced last month that it will begin publishing indie games. It inked a deal with developer What Pumpkin Games for Hiveswap, which is inspired by the cult hit webcomic Homestuck. And it’s partnered with developer Rose City Games to publish the studio’s next three games, including its upcoming title The World Next Door.
Crunchyroll isn’t sharing any details about what’s next, and it sounds like it hasn’t committed yet to a “full blown Crunchyroll games unit.” Depending on how Memoria Freese’s launch goes, though, it has a few avenues it could explore, whether that’s localizing more games into English or perhaps working with developers on original IP. The latter is something that will become “a bigger part of [its] content mix” in the future, at least in terms of the shows it offers on its site.
“As part of that we recently hired a new head of studio based out in Los Angeles to be thinking about what kind of content, what types of things we want to be able to create moving forward,” said Ferrer. “I think that’s very much of a conversation to be continued, but I think that will start to evolve as we start to produce some of these original shows.”