updated 08:12 pm EST, Thu November 7, 2013
Australia, New Zealand frequently used as 'soft launch' countries
A Star Wars-themed variant of the 2011 award-winning game Tiny Tower called Star Wars: Tiny Death Star has arrived in the US iOS App Store after a number of weeks of availability to Australian players. The company recently also added the game to the New Zealand store ahead of the US debut in a "soft launch" campaign that is becoming more common among games that expect large server loads from players following initial availability.
Tiny Death Star is a cross between Tiny Tower and the classic Star Wars movies, where players attract "bitizens" to help build and manage multiple levels of the Empire's Death Star. The bitizens complete tasks, which earns coins to further build up the Death Star. The game is styled in the popular retro "8-bit" look, and features new scenes involving many Star Wars characters.
Players can opt to speed the game along by using in-app purchases to buy "Imperial Bux" or earn Bux through tasks in the game. To celebrate the US debut, LucasArts is offering players 50 percent more starting Bux for a limited time. The game itself is free, and rated 9+ for mild cartoon/fantasy violence.
Tiny Death Star is not the first game to use the lower population of Australia and New Zealand as a way to launch an app and test its servers and capacity before unleashing the product on larger markets. Pandora's (thus far) only expansion outside the US was to the two countries, where it was able to negotiable acceptable licensing arrangements, and Plants vs Zombies 2 was also soft-launched in the region ahead of its US debut.