Back in January of this year, Bandai Namco released an iOS version of their 16-bit era RPG Tales of Phantasia [Free]. Well, apparently this mobile version of the game is going bye bye. An update to the game's description in the App Store that was noticed by a member of our forums states that Bandai Namco is terminating the distribution of Tales of Phantasia and that as of August 28th, the app and all in-app purchase content will become unusable. Here's the full notice from the App Store:

◆Notice of Termination of Distribution◆
We regret to inform you that we will cease distribution of this app on 08/28/2014 (Thursday).
On this date, the app and all associated services will become unusable. This includes In-App Purchase items already purchased and save data.
Furthermore, sale of In-App Purchase items will conclude on 07/29/2014 (Tuesday).
We apologize sincerely to all of our customers for this inconvenience, and hope you continue to enjoy our products and services in the future.

Here's the thing: Tales of Phantasia on iOS is pretty terrible. They shoehorned the original game into a free to play model that basically ruined it, so giving it the Old Yeller treatment isn't exactly a big loss. But for the people who did enjoy it and even spent some money on the IAP, this really sucks. The game's online requirement for saving means that existing players will be stuck with an unusable game, and one that only released six months ago. That is a lot different than say shutting down the servers for a years-old online multiplayer game whose popularity has tailed off or something. Tales of Phantasia for iOS came out this year.

There's an ever-growing contingent of people who are vocally against always-online requirements in games, enough so that Gameloft actually reversed course on the online requirement for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (though they're sticking with it for Modern Combat 5). Those peoples' concerns mostly revolve around not being able to play a game if they don't have service or wi-fi, or eating up precious bandwidth of a limited data plan. But there's also concerns just like what's happening with Tales of Phantasia, where an app can literally become unusable at some point down the line. They're all valid concerns.

So, uh, I guess if you're into collecting apps that get removed from the App Store, you better download Tales of Phantasia before August 28th. You also have until the end of this month to buy IAP in the game, but I can't imagine why you'd want to do that. Perhaps Apple will honor refunds for those who have spent money on the game, or Bandai Namco will find a way to make good to its customers, but right now this just plain looks like a crappy situation for Tales of Phantasia players on iOS.

  • somedumbgamer

    Blarg

  • Atomos

    Maybe they'll bring it back with a more classic balance, with no IAP or online?

    • Intendro

      Hopefully.
      It seems like such a waste not to take the game and un-screw it up...
      Seriously, never require online when it isn't actually required! It just ticks off people who can't play it where they want, connection issues prevent it from working right all the time, and it causes the game to cease working at some point like this case!
      "What the heck is that?"

    • Veoren

      I'm hoping for this too. That they just rectify their mistake and release it at least without the online requirement. I'd be willing to pay quite a bit for this classic. Even as much as one of the FFs games here on iOS.

    • michelleobetts

      my Aunty
      Allison recently got a nice 6 month old Jaguar by working from a macbook.this website C­a­s­h­d­u­t­i­e­s­.­C­O­M­

  • worldcitizen1919

    The online requirement to play anything but an MMO is a slap in the face for every gamer who want to play the game on the move and don't have access to the internet or have a small data plan. And if a game folds and it's an internet required game then I can see $100's of losses incurred by gamers.

    We have rights to at least play the content we purchase whether the company folds or not. I've got games on my PC that I bought 15 years ago and still have access to them even though the companies have folded. It's my right. I paid for that right. It looks like with the online requirement gamers are only renting games now and their rights are being further deteriorated. Good article.

    • Themostunclean

      Digital distribution was virtually non-existent 15 years ago. Remember getting those stupid AOL discs in the mail?

      Sad to say but you really don't have any rights today. There's been a subtle shift over the past few years from "buying" applications to "licensing" them. Depending on what language a publisher uses in the fine print, they have they ability to legally shaft you any way they want.

      • C. Stubb

        The phrase "legally shaft" got a chuckle.

      • nini

        I doubt he's ever had the "right" to play games without an internet connection required, that's needless hyperbole.

      • Onikage725

        Are you questioning the ability of games to run offline, or his use of the word "right?"

      • Intendro

        You'd think you would have the right to actually play a game you bought... or that they'd just let you anyway instead of causing lots of annoyed customers... right?

      • Intendro

        *the right to actually simply get to play the game, with no annoying strings thrown on...

      • Intendro

        (I know this is a "free" game, but the idea that they want you to buy IAP makes my previous comment fit.)

      • evilabdy

        I used to take the aol floppies and reformat them for other things. Holy crap that makes me sound old....

      • Ax23000

        Licensing has ALWAYS been the norm for software...the main difference is that now publishers can actually enforce the terms where once it was basically the honor system.

  • the_rebel14

    Well, I guess this won't be worth anywhere near as much as Flappy Bird once it's gone.

  • Wolfcoyote

    I was one of the few who took a chance on it. The controls were abysmal due to your on-screen character moving too fast to be playable by default. That plus the save system made me delete it after the first ten minutes. This is a crying shame because I'm a big fan of the Tales series and I never played Phantasia until the iOS version. Here's hoping they're blaming themselves and not iOS users who saw this game for the crippled release that it was.

    • Onikage725

      There are two fan translations of the unreleased (in the west) PSX version. That'd largely considered the best version. There was also an official gba release, and a fan translation of the snes version.

      If you want to play Tales of Phantasia on your ios device, you have options.

  • curtneedsaride

    I considered it unusable the day it was released thanks to the negative reviews I read. No reason to even download it and give it a try. And this is what I'd like to see happen to all games that are ruined by terrible porting and unnecessary use of IAP. If they ever release it again as a premium app that has better controls and does not need an online connection, I'll grab it for whatever they charge. Until then, I'm just thankful for all of the Square-Enix ports keeping me busy... and Lunar... and of course, Monster Hunter.

  • James Gerbino

    This is Bandai/Namco saying "you can't trust us, and we think you're nothing more than sheep to be fleeced". Won't be buying from them. That includes the AAA console and PC titles.

    • Onikage725

      I can agree with this. I think the only thing I was really following them for any way was Ace Combat, and they've run that into the dirt.

      • Morgan01

        Another untrustworthy developer has just revealed their claws.

  • Nekkedsnake

    i don't play this series but i am from the camp that HATES online requirements. and this news really sucks for TOP fans. an unusable app after half a year, unusable IAP, AND GAME SAVES? GTFO!!

  • Squidhead

    I'm willing to pay 5 bucks for a PSX port.

    • Budgiecat

      lol if you have an android, and your PSX copy, you could just make an iso of it and throw it onto a micro SD card and download a PSX emulator...

  • Bliquid

    What i find kinda outrageous is that they are keeping IAPs up till one day before shutting everything down in the face of spenders.
    Greedy bastards.

    • Onikage725

      Right?! At least they put a note up on the app page, but what about in game?

  • jamr79

    Honestly, a lot of people let the online only mode and IAP turn them off right away.
    I played the game and throughly enjoyed it. I enjoy hard RPG's and this one was definitely one of those. I even had to draw maps for the first time in years. I mostly played at home and work so the online only requirement didn't bother me, in fact, I learned to use it to my advantage to force quit and load the quicksave when I was killed. I did not notice a spike on my data plan when I used it outside. I never once used the IAP.
    Controls for any iOS game are challenging, but having mastered fighting games like MVC2 with the six button layout, nothing is too hard. I actually must say that the auto-movement feature where you tap, and the character follows, is without comparison in any other game. All other games are dumb and they don't walk over obstacles, this one does. Towards the end, once you get the dash ring mid-fight movement is much easier.
    Back in the day when the SNES translation project started, I was lusting after this game, I even have the original theme song stuck in my head. I always wondered what the Japanese dialogue meant and drooled over the side scrolling mode and the graphics.
    This app allowed me to finally fulfill that dream for the first time and perhaps the fact that I didn't have the original to compare it to allowed me to be patient and open-minded and be able to enjoy this RPG jewel, despite it's defects.
    I'm disappointed to hear that the port is so poor and the game was perverted to fit the IAP model, and now them pulling it simply disregards all the money people spent, and everyone will lose all their saves.
    Instead of saving face, Namco-Bandai should make amends for their loyal fans. This is so cheap of them, it really makes them look like a greedy, inconsiderate company.
    Sorry for the wall of text.

  • IAmTheNightRider

    Namco Marketing: "Free-to-play monetization is what it's all about nowadays! We need to enforce always on play in order to track metrics for everything, so that we can adjust the game in order to squeeze out as much money from our users as possible! Focus all development resources on client reporting and building out the server architecture! Cha-ching, We can't lose!

    Later...

    Namco Accounting: Our sales figures aren't supporting the cost of our server farm, it seems people are downloading the game but the conversion rate is very poor.

    Namco Marketing: Whoa whoa, shut this thing down ASAP! There must be some way to make money selling games... I'm sure it's just a flaw in our user behavioural modelling. Well, back to the drawing board, we need to invest more in market research!

  • MK

    Isn't it possible for someone to make a crack for it to make it work offline?

  • smiffee666

    still not available in the UK, by the sound of things it never wiil be either! it's a good job really as I would have put a truckload of cash into this game!

  • Design by Adrian

    Good riddance. IAP-botched versions of great classics should all be burnt and replaced by proper ports!

  • Budgiecat

    wow. When ya gonna learn Namco?