After Imageepoch went bankrupt back in 2015, company president Ryoei Mikage went missing for quite a while, before resurfacing earlier this year in May as the representative of a new company called Mikage LLC. and a browser game titled Clan Senki. Mikage is now teasing a new title using Imageepoch-produced IP that will be officially revealed around February 9, 2019.
Earlier today, Mikage Tweeted that a new title would be announced around February 9, 2019, although the date may be a bit off as the presentation method and promotion are still being prepared. However, he also teased in 4Gamer’s year-end talk about whether it would be an original IP or not:
Ryoei Mikage (Representative): “We’re currently preparing new titles with the joint company Mikage, using IP that was under production during the Imageepoch era. We’re making preparations to have an announcement in early 2019. Stay tuned.”
So just what sort of IP could Mikage be hinting at? Imageepoch has developed for many companies over the years, for game series like Luminous Arc, 7th Dragon, Toshin Toshi, Last Ranker, Fate/Extra, Black Rock Shooter: The Game, and Toki Towa. In terms of original IP, Imageepoch has made Tale of the Last Promise, Sol Trigger, as well as Stella Glow. Way back in 2012, Mikage mentioned that he was interested in a sequel to Sol Trigger.
That said, we know a bit more about the game thanks to Mikage LLC.’s official website. The game is aimed towards casual audiences, and will be all ages. The game may also be for smartphones, as Mikage LLC. is currently described as developing, running, and selling apps.
As for what Mikage was doing up until May 2018, he described the general flow of what happened with Imageepoch in an interview for Clan Senki:
- The cancellation of a large-scale, unrevealed project in the second half of 2014 caused major financial loss to Imageepoch. Their other published titles were also incurring losses. Around their final hour, they were hoping their latest developed title would sell at least 100k, but it was becoming more and more like a dream. Even their well-received titles didn’t earn enough profit to cover development costs, and by Spring 2015, they were in the red and he felt “it was over”. Imageepoch even tried getting into development work outside games, but lacked the expertise. Mikage states that by Fall 2013, the writing was basically on the wall for them.
- Imageepoch tried getting into making smartphone games, but the development style for console vs. mobile games was too different. It didn’t go well. Smartphone titles usually have a small team that is expanded when it does well, but for Imageepoch, which had over 100 employees, it was hard for them to make a hard shift to this style of development. If they had some sort of cushion to fall back on so they could fail once and adapt, it might have been different. Around the final year, he met Ichiro Hourai, the CEO of Librez.
- While Mikage stayed with Imageepoch to the very end, he was able to procure the funds to pay the employees. However, there were some freelancers and outsourced workers who weren’t able to be paid properly. When faced with a metaphorical choice to drown 7 people to let the boat carry on, he decided to sink the boat instead.
Ichiro Hourai, CEO of Librez
- The reason for his disappearance: Filled with regret and questioning his abilities, he thought of leaving the game industry and going into hard labor, like driving delivery trucks. Facing with the reality that some people had gotten off worse thanks to him, he became a shut-in for around 3 months while “trying not to die”. Librez’s Hourai worried for his mental health, and invited Mikage to step outside and visit their office. As his mental state got a bit better, he was able to think things that weren’t negative, and decided to go back to working.
- Around that time, a producer close to Mikage asked for help writing a game design document, and Mikage thought, “Might as well”. It turned out to be for a game for a popular anime that he’d watched and read the original light novels of. His document won the competition, and thanks to that other people came to him for help, with him helping under the condition that his name would not be mentioned anywhere, as he still didn’t have plans to return to the industry.
- In the end, thanks to royalties from those proposals, he had enough money to sustain life, and took up Hourai’s offer to go back to a working lifestyle as a debugger. Finally, after another month or two, Mikage decided he wanted to make a game again. Mikage ended up creating Mikage LLC. in 2017, and cooperated with Librez on what eventually ended up being Clan Senki.
Mikage LLC.’s new title using an Imageepoch-produced IP is set to be revealed around February 9, 2019.