video games
Memento Mori has been among the top 10 grossing games on iPhone in Japan since its launch Image Credit: Pexels/Tima Miroshnichenko

Bank of Innovation Inc., a little-known games publisher based in Tokyo’s Shinjuku, has a hit on its hands that’s propelled its shares to Japan’s best performance of the year.

Traded on Tokyo’s Mothers market for startups, BOI is up 790 per cent this year, with its biggest surge coming since the October 18 release of mobile role-playing game Memento Mori. Featuring high-profile musicians and voice actors, the game charges almost double for in-game content compared to local competitors - without alienating users.

Game production for mobile platforms has risen in cost and complexity in recent times, but Japanese studios have been reluctant to pass on those costs to players. BOI’s move to raise prices from the traditional 300 yen ($2) or less to more than 500 yen could open the door for others in the industry to follow suit. The game, also available on PC, had more than 1.2 million global pre-registrations and nearly half a million downloads in its first five days of availability in Japan.

Memento Mori brought in 1.8 billion yen in sales over those first five days, validating the upfront production investment as well as the choice to hike pricing in the game. It’s been among the top 10 grossing games on iPhone in Japan since its launch. BOI’s eightfold gain this year has brought its market value to about $400 million.

“The move is a big surprise,” said Hideki Yasuda, an analyst at Toyo Securities. “With the rising cost of making games, many mobile game companies have long wanted to raise prices, but none of them went ahead for fear of losing customers. But with Memento Mori’s success, other firms could follow the move with their new games.”