Tales Studio Near Bankruptcy – Tales Series Doomed?

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Tales Studio, the Namco Bandai subsidiary responsible for the long running Tales series of RPGs, has been revealed to be in dire financial straits.

The company is 100% privately held by Namco Bandai, so its public reporting of accounts is limited, but what it has published recently is none too promising:

tales-studio-finances

These figures essentially show an annual loss of 1 million dollars and an accumulated debt of 21 million dollars, exceeding their total assets – the company will either go bankrupt, “restructure,” or go cap in hand to Bandai bosses begging for more cash based on promises of future success – which may be problematic considering the size of the loss they are dealing with themselves.

An alternative might be a re-absorption into Namco Bandai, although this would not guarantee any success in actually tackling the decline of the franchise.

Even amongst Japanese RPGs the Tales series stands out as being devoid of innovation and consisting of little more than an interminable series of rehashes, remakes and spin-offs. Whether the company’s decline can be arrested before bankruptcy or dissolution seems doubtful considering its parent company is hardly managed any better.

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134 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    This is bittersweet for me. The Tales series is great, but I have two words for these guys………………….BAD MARKETING!!!!! I want to see the series continue, but it needs to be in the hands of people who can not only create fantastic games, but also use proper marketing strategies to get the games “out there” like they should be. Advertising would be a start. DUH! The lack of localizations didn’t help their wallets either. Their talent for making games is useless if they don’t make profit, but the Tales series is obviously not why they’re failing. This is the result of top notch stupidity on their part. If the continue to hold on to the rights for the series, then it’s doomed. Give up the rights. You guys don’t deserve the rights after sinking into such a deep unacceptable financial hole. It’s a disgrace. We want Tales games and we want them localized as well. I am keeping my fingers crossed that someone else takes over the Tales projects and soon. These guys are clearly done. What a shame.

  • Step 1: Hire translator team for all previous Japan-exclusive mothership titles. And spin-offs. And don’t bother re-voicing everything.
    Step 2: Sell games outside of Japan.
    Step 3: ???
    Step 4: Profit.

  • Anonymous says:

    “You reap what you sow” would be the proper phase to address scamco here and you’ll get no sympathy from me. This is what they get for bad marketing, not advertising better and most of all, NOT OUTSOURCING/LOCALIZING MORE. Really, there is absolutely no excuse for games like ToDR, rebirth, destiny 2 and the like not reaching other parts of the world while allowing some entries to go without a hitch. As far as I’m concerned they can go under for all I care. Hopefully some other company will buy the rights off of them and actually DO something with it.

  • Anonymous says:

    Noooo! D:

    I hope Tales Studio manages to get over it… Work on more original storylines and innovative gameplay, and stop making those fucking spin-offs and Phantasia remakes/ports D8

  • cupcake_deluxe says:

    Hmm. You know what would be awesome? If they made a MMO with a battle system like Tales of Vesperia. You could party with a number of people online, beat shit up together in real time, do quests and storylines, get outfits, maybe limited timed offers for costumes from characters in the official games. They could provide a cashshop for ingame items, like Maple Story, Mabinogi and other MMOs do. I can only dream…

  • Anonymous says:

    NOOOOOOO!! Tales series are great, this can´t happen, this is because of the pussies that only play MMORPG or the new western craps being called RPG (more like action/adventure)

  • Anonymous says:

    Maybe they could make some money if they, you know, released half the games here.

    “Even amongst Japanese RPGs the Tales series stands out as being devoid of innovation and consisting of little more than an interminable series of rehashes, remakes and spin-offs.”

    Since when?

    • yeah that is a stupid statement. Maybe if you’re talking about the 3D games that’s true, but all the 2D ones are completely different.

      Sankaku has some stupid comments like that sometimes, though.

      • Anonymous says:

        The 2D ones are not completely different from one another — they all pretty much used the same battle system with some minor differences. Otherwise, it’s the same thing over and over with different characters and some other save the world storyline.

        Anyway, the statement was probably made by someone who’s not a fan of the series. Or used to be a fan.

  • Anonymous says:

    This makes me really sad. I love the tales games and I wish they released the DS tales games outside Japan at the very least. Both tales of hearts and Tales of Innocence are decent games, and while they might not hold up to some of the previous tales games I’ve enjoyed the little I’ve played of them before getting lost because I don’t read Japanese myself.

  • Anonymous says:

    Only one thing left for them to do, release ToV on PS3 in North America. Who knows, maybe this will be a reason for them to do it. Of course it could also be a big reason not to, siting financial woes, but lets hope not. =(

  • Anonymous says:

    Psht, only 21 million in the hole? SquareEnix bleeds more than that every year. Although they’ve actually got a very successful anime and manga publishing to keep them in business…

  • Anonymous says:

    Let’s hope that whatever faggot keeps fucking over North America with the Tales games gets beaten quite severely upon his testicles with a spiked metal baseball bat by his boss, the shareholders, and every single person who purchased (or otherwise acquired) the 360 Vesperia game.

    Let us also hope that this means that the Tales series gets better (as several recent titles suck), that the fucker is publicly humiliated and shat upon by his male co-workers, and that Tales of Vesperia “International” DOES come to North America.

  • Maybe if they didn’t let the Symphonia department take the reins for so long. Team Symphonia is an absolute failure compared to Team Destiny, all their sales have been mediocre at best, ever since Symphonia. Tales just doesn’t work in 3D when it’s half-assed, and free run was a horrible idea. Also the cutscenes all suck ass because they refuse to use motion capture. And the music is all the same terrible shit it’s been since Symphonia because Sakuraba is a talentless hack who lost his touch years ago and refuses to get rid of his horrible keyboard. I also find it funny that the reason the Tales series has a horrible rep overseas is because the 3D games are such horrible pieces of shit.

    Team Destiny always did Tales better and now they have to suffer for Team Symphonia and Namco’s mishaps. Considering how Namco Bandai has pretty much all awful series and games, it’s a shame to see their one decent one go out.

    I was a fan of the series for the longest time. It’s a same to see them go under like this, but they really brought it upon themselves. At least it they will go out with one of the only fantastic games they’ve made, Phantasia, being their last as Phantasia X.

      • He only makes good music when he gets paid enough and it gets to be orchestrated like in Baten Kaitos and Eternal Sonata. Because then you can’t hear his awful keyboard. Legendia’s soundtrack (Go Shiina’s) has been the only fantastic one in the past 7 years, and the music from Abyss that Motou Fujiwara of BUMP OF CHICKEN wrote.

        Go Shiina is really the best composer Namco has, it’s a shame they don’t use him more.

        • Anonymous says:

          His prog-rock is good as well (I assume this is what you mean by his ‘awful keyboard’) and is in almost all of his games, even Baten Kaitos (Eternal Sonata’s the only one I can think of that doesn’t have any). The Tales music is pretty boring and substandard in terms of instrument quality but don’t confuse the format of the music with the quality. The recent Star Ocean games have had some excellent music, prog-rock included.

      • Graces was Team Destiny. The sad part was is that it was the only correctly done 3D Tales game. (The best thing Team Destiny did for the series was deciding after Eternia to play around with TP and not make yet another shitty mana system.) The problem was they probably had absolutely no budget because Team Destiny always gets thrown aside now so the game was bugged the hell and back.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is seriously what they get for shafting Team Destiny. I’d have been all over that they had the sense to release it here. And by that, I mean all of the DS games, the Destiny Remakes, the REAL Destiny II and most of all Tales of Mutha$#%@$^$ Graces.

  • Barbarian of Gor says:

    I don’t per-se post this wishing any ill of Bandai, but as a comment on the state of “The Media”.

    It should be noted, and it is one thing even these giant, monopolistic companies will learn, that all music, all art, all movies/acting, all “entertainment” is ultimately a form of “Busking”. That’s one step up from a beggar on the street, playing a tune with a hat or box in front of you. One step up, but that one step up is a badge of pride, and as I revealed in a flame war I got a strong “Bardic” line in my family from ancient times.

    The modern media is based on giant companies that “Round off the rough edges” of any product to make them more palatable to the largest audience possible. Thus, “Bland, PC tedium” is born. They’ve controlled the media so long they’ve been able to withstand the lowering public interest, but with the recession, there’s now a breaking point approaching.

    Another factor, and I don’t know how much an issue it is in Japan, but certainly in the “West” is a “Jewish” influence. Just check out how Helen Thomas was fired after one remark, despite her many years and fame that hurt presidents when they pushed her aside. If that ain’t “Jewish/Zionist Controlled” nothing is.

    I’m for people having their rights to their own views and religions, but my problem with that note is that it is the same failure of representative democracy. The dominance comes to a collection of active groups who care about “One issue/agenda, nothing else”. In the western media’s case, they care about “Making money and supporting the Zionist agenda” and nothing else. So the popular culture gets a “Bland tedium” of junk along with one-sided propaganda when it comes to Israel’s latest brutality.

    I say this, not to be off-topic, but I wonder how Japan fits in the tangent…

    For instance, the “Rape Lay” game “Controversy” in the west was ballooned by our media. Japan sided with Germany during WW2 and while not necessarily ‘anti Semitic’ is quite “Pro Japan racist”. So the US and world media look into Japan with a baleful eye, looking for the freaky and unacceptable. Japans late banning of RL kiddie porn, it’s raising it’s “Age of Consent” and now it’s flirting with banning “Loli” manga come largely from outside political pressure. It might be, besides “Shocking irrelevant content for quick ratings” be a form of “Payback” for a shaky ally of an old enemy…

    However, full circle, to this company, in case anyone working there is reading this:

    Here is “Western Wisdom” – “Too many cooks, spoil the soup!”

    If you decide to “Roll the Dice” one more time, just get in a few people new to it, three of them, as I said earlier a “Storyteller” not just a hack writer, a philosopher and a musician. Let them run the show within the most abstract of guidelines (Like “See the games we produce? Try to make something that’ll appeal to our customers and attract more.”) but NO interference otherwise. You can as long as you do it politely make them understand a lot is at stake so they get paid a minimal (like keep living indoors on Ramen) salary with a good commission if it sells well, and thus a polite urgency to make something practical, workable and soon. Have a team of 7 of your best artists/programmers around them at all times, helping them but they call the shots.

        • Even if they’re pretty similar, they’re freaking awesome game…

          FFS, the battle system is awesome and slighty better each time… Slow improvement is ok, when you see the shit other companies did…

          Also, we like the chara design, the humor and stuff…
          Oh and at least they don’t put all their budget in graphics…

  • Perhaps if they were to release their games on PC (which most people own) instead of consoles (which are less common, and most games are only available on one console only…which is not always the one you own)…
    or maybe in English as well instead of Japanese only…then they could sell more copies.

    There is no way I’m ever gonna buy a console again when I have a computer already, which is more versatile, plays everything, can be upgraded when necessary, and is more reliable than consoles that break down all the time (If I count hours when they were turned on only, my PC lasted like 100 times longer than my PS2…and unlike the PS2, the PC doesn’t need to be turned off regularly to prevent overheat either).

    Time to face the reality :
    if you want to sell a game to a large number of people
    -it needs to be in English
    -it needs to work on PC (If it doesn’t I’ll use an emulator…yeah, those are only available for older consoles…that means I won’t be able to buy the game even if I wanted to because I can’t play it)
    -it needs to have a reasonable price ($5 or less is maybe reasonable for a pile of computer data that can be duplicated for free, $50 is NOT.)
    -it needs to be available for purchase online, in form of direct download
    -and it must be free of all kinds of anti-piracy “features” that prevent proper use of the game, and scare off most buyers. (pirated ones have those features disabled, so they are better)

    As most companies do the opposite, they’ll go bankrupt, and I don’t care. If they want my money, then make it so that I can spend it as easily as I can buy anime figures on the net…and make a game cost no more than a cheaper figure…

    • Barbarian of Gor says:

      Bravo!!!

      One thing I keep saying is that in an age of “Big Media” all these companies forget that no matter how fancy a product they make, all art, all music, all other forms of entertainment are a form of “Busking”. It’s just that for too long they’ve held the stranglehold on “The means of production, sale and distribution” so they’ve gotten too arrogant and complacent.

      I’ve had, in the ancient history of my family, plenty of “Bards” who literally ‘sang for their suppers’ for at least hundreds of years. The “Music Industry” thinks they got woes? We were just fine till they dominated it, then made sure we could never get a record published or be on the radio.

      In this recession, people can “Vote with their dollars” and make or break even the biggest of companies.

      Frankly, I say people should “Not Buy” stuff from major media outlets. Especially the “Mainstream PC bland Tedium” with Jewish/Zionist backers. They made sure that we got polished turds for TV, Movies, etc. for the last few decades and then they ignored the slow bleeding of society by lobotomizing the news. Thinking back on it, I think that me and my ken being kept out of the “Mainstream” must have been deliberate. We were NEVER pro “German WW2 Leader” or any of that garbage, but during the middle ages while we had to be careful what we said about the king, it was the “Money Lender” who usually caused the people’s real woes and was damned in song and story, so when moneymen took over the music and TV and publishing… Too bad they can only write junk for themselves, it’s painful to see most of their junk in the mainstream…

      The solution is, don’t buy it, and if you MUST see it, just wait a while you’ll find it used. But at the same time, seek out smaller, independent outfits that like what you are doing and by all means “Vote with your dollars” and support them. Give a big CEO $5 he’s annoyed that you cost him $100 to pause to get it. Give a tiny outfit/individual $5 cause you liked their songs, games, etc. you’ve helped pay the bills. The CEO gets 1000 fans who’ll donate once in a while, he’s ruined. The small outfit, esp an individual “Cyber Busker” gets that kind of a fanbase, he won’t quit his “Day Job” but he’s quite happy!

      And, btw, though I’m keeping my RL ID a secret, I’m part of a team making a new magazine and also a ‘radical independent’ Musician. I won’t point and self-promo here, but I’ll assure you that our stuff is DRM free! The .pdf files, the .mp3, etc. We’ll still hold our copyrights, but you won’t have to worry about ‘permission’ if you install it on a computer 25 years from now. The only catch we do is put a “Hidden Tag” in the file so if it’s on a file sharing device we have an idea where it came from, but that in no way impairs functionality. (and a lot is put out for “Free” also, and not tiny promos but whole works to encourage sales) BUT, unlike the RIAA we aren’t going to “Sue” our fans either and under some reasonable conditions they can even “Pass along” the stuff!

      But I won’t promo myself here, and I’m far from the only one doing this! The “Fans” can at last change the media by “Voting with their dollars”.

    • Anonymous says:

      If everyone followed what you said, every single game company would go bankrupt and no one would make any games period.

      It makes no sense to devalue the price of games to almost be nothing with no protection just so you can afford it. Games still costs a lot of money to make and developers need to make a living. $50 I think is fair. Especially since games used to cost much much more.

      Anti-piracy measures exist to understandably protect their investments. If they succeed and can maintain profit, they can continue making games and potentially take more risk in creating new IPs and even better games. Removing them is detrimental and will only inspire them to rehash the same games over and over, though some of the current anti-piracy measures are implemented poorly, I think they must exist in some shape or form.

    • Unfortunately thats xenophobia for ya, as much as i love japan the whole xenophobic crap towards foreigners is going to be the downfall of most of its companies, if not its whole economy.

      And here i thought peoples greed for money would overlap the xenophobic mindset…i guess i was wrong…still very shocking.

      $5 for a game is a bit too small, maybe for like a 10 year old game..but that wouldn’t work. Nobody would sell a game that cheap, $50 for a new game these days is pretty good considering most are $60+. Also no anti-piracy would defeat the purpose of selling the games period as everyone would just pirate them.

        • Barbarian of Gor says:

          DRM stops the “Hackers” by…1 minute?

          DRM, on the other hand, frustrates the customer by:

          1. If they want to install/transfer it they essentially need permission from an existing company.
          2. Companies come and go. Let’s say you buy a tune that’s been ‘format lobotomized’, you won’t be able to play it in a few years.
          3. Some software you need full connection to the internet and to reveal your name and address, the former constantly just to turn it on. Bootlegs of those (with no internet issue) are widespread.

          Now, it’s complex ’cause I’m covering everything from watermarked/non-editable .pdf files to software with music in-between.

          However, the DRM issues frustrate honest customers and don’t deter the hackers. Make some code/challenge that’s ‘unbreakable’ they just find a way around it.

          That is why, BTW, we are (at my RL thing) doing non DRM/watermarked .PDF format. We want people to buy our magazine. People think of magazines like a cool stack of “Omnis” except due to digital issues they can fit on an area essentially negligible on a HDD. Since it’s already “Scanned” they want to be able to print out, clip snippets from, etc. the whole magazine. Also, like that “Omni” picked up at a library clearance sale years ago, they want to be able to open and read it, to transfer it if they move, even if it’s years and years later and the magazine is sadly no longer published.

          Now, if we made a super-restrictive DRM issue, the hackers would just likely buy one copy -with a stolen credit card- and then put it (DRM removed) online just for the fun of it, but a few profit from spyware though most seem to profit from “Download fees” and “Advertising” on the places they put them on.

          It is really easy to put in “Hidden” tags, especially in a file that’s 20Megs big in lots of different ways. A hacker is unlikely to look for these since as I said he’s not using his credit card to buy it and it’s not a barrier to immediate access. BUT, later, when he’s caught the “Tracer” can prove he did it and connect the dots to the credit card fraud, including perhaps proving the site he put it on profited by advertising and download fees.

          It’s like the old magazines I mentioned. It might be, technically, illegal to make photocopies of say a nice cartoon you had and post it around, but we’d be flattered and if others liked it and said “Where DID you find that?” free advertising. What we’d rip someone’s head off over is printing 1000 perfect copies and giving them for free/selling them cheaply, though that’d be baffling in the old school world.

  • Azure Xuchilbara says:

    After Tales of Symphonia, everything else wasn’t that great…

    Except Tales of the Abyss just for the fact that you get to kill a certain pink-haired loli and a green-haired shota…

    I blame Anise Tatlin for this…You shouldn’t have upsetted the fans of that pink-haired loli by killing her…

    And has anyone noticed that there’ always a cute little girl/boy/jailbait getting killed in every Tales game starting with Symphonia..?

    I’m beginning to suspect Namco’s a closet gurofiend…

        • I and everyone else call a remake a full blown remake. Everything but basic design is scrapped for a whole newly done game. Because that IS what a remake is. All it is is an enhanced port, otherwise you could argue that Full Voice Edition was a remake, which it most certainly was not. The only 2 remakes of Phantasia there are are the PSX version and the GBA version.

        • You have your info wrong man. The new game coming out is called Tales of Phantasia: Narikiri Dungeon X. What it is, is a remake of the sequel to Tales of Phantasia; Tales of Phantasia: Narikiri Dungeon which was for GBC. The game also includes another enhanced port of Phantasia, which is just Phantasia Full Voice Edition with a fixed up battle system and some new sprites here and there. So basically still not a proper remake at all.

  • Miriandandes says:

    A shame.
    Granted, their latest ‘Tales’ titles have been most trash.
    Abyss was actually pretty good, and spawned an entertaining anime, but other than that I haven’t fully enjoyed a Tales game since Destiny.

    Edit: With Tales Studio in such dire times, I wonder how a studio like, say, KOEI, is doing.
    They’ve been rehashing the same shit for 2 decades now.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is why I am incredibly happy to see that Koei has smarted up! Although Strikeforce is weird looking with weird transforming characters, it no longer plays like ye olde Dynasty Warriors 3 – 6 and is genuinely fresh.

      It is, however, still possible that you’re pretty much doing the same thing over and over throughout the entire game though. XD

      The problem now is that once Koei finds something they’re comfortable with and the fans are comfortable with, they’ll sit on the same gameplay and design for the next 5 games or so. =_______=;

      • No they aren’t, it’s just that they use the exact same engine they have for every game they release per generation that the production cost is incredibly low. Plus they picked some great series to cross over with, like Gundam and Hokuto no Ken.

  • Sakujo Rechceel says:

    I’ve never really minded that they were rehashes, but it really is getting old by now. They need to stop hogging the games that would sell well outside of Japan, though….

  • crazyleon4000jr says:

    Uh oh! Pretty much this was coming if they didn’t improve on their games. *sighs* Their next game is Narkiri Dungeon X Tales of phantasia game. I’m still looking out for any other news about the Tales series ever since. Well I like tales series, what do you expect?

  • Do a mass release around the world of their “japan only” titles and we’ll see how in debt they still are. i’ve personally been a fan since eternia and own two copies of it one the u.s.s ps1 release the other the british psp port. Just give me the rest and i for one will buy them all. Hell i only know one kanjy and a few words but i’ve been seriously considering importing the ps3 vesparia i like the series so much. What should thta tell them? BTW yes i know i’m one person but there have GOT to be more like me.

  • I actually sorta like the Tales series, but I am among those people Namco seem to consider ‘untouchable’.

    Yes, I live in Europe.

    I might’ve bought some, but the Xbox 360/PS3 controversy for Tales of Vesperia is pretty much moot for me as I own neither console and don’t have the funds necessary to buy either before 2011. Tales of Symphonia for the GameCube is too old, Tales of Phantasia for the GBA was a laughable effort, and there’s nothing else I can even think of right now that’s available to me.

    Oh well. I need to get started on Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 soon anyway…

    • this pleases me… in a bitter sweet way. the tales of series was my all time favorite, but under new management or just new policies, they decided to leave america out of the equation. so after graces and vesperia were denied admittance to america, i sold legendia, abyss, symphonia, vesperia, destiny 1&2, symphonia 2, and radiance. i think that’s all the ones i had. i like them all, but since i know i can’t have the perfect collection, i have no need to collect them anymore.

      way to sow the seeds of destruction namco-bandai.

        • The Tales series don’t need to much innovation ffs…
          Their battle system is what we like, so why changing it?
          It would be like making a 3D Pac-Man adventure game… Oh, they did it? It was shit…

          Seriously, I don’t want the Tales to change to finally get something as shitty as FF XIII

          A new Tales is an occasion for us to play again with a slighty different LMBS, because we fucking like it.

          I don’t want to lose the Tales spirit.

      • Agreed, I so would have paid for the game again on the PS3. The Tales series has always been a favorite of mine, it’s sad to see this happening. I guess it’s safe to say we wont be seeing Vesperia or Graces in the US.

        • This is one of my favorite games, I played the hell out of it on my Xbox with over 500 hours clocked in. But being able to replay it with enough extras to classify it as a totally different game would be the greatest thing ever!

          If what you said about North America’s exclusive rights is true then that’s just too sad. It seems like these gaming companies are more involved in shutting down their competition than the consumers of their own products. We the gamers keep getting fucked over just so Microsoft can get one up on Sony or vise versa.

        • Anonymous says:

          Ermm… i think you missed the point of “Extra Content” that people mentioned. It’s not so much that they don’t have 360 copy but more like they want the xtra content of the re-releases

          Also your practically spitting out the same “explanation” that the so called “whistle blower” employee from Namco Bandai article ages back..

          I would love to believe that but if you’ve looked at Nam/Ban’s series they’ve had a habit of always re-releasing remakes on various console ports. Usually with more added content. So i doubt its got anything to do w/ some Sony = Superior clause

          Also its not an MS “exclusive” on US as you say.. check out the newer boxes and the “Only in Xbox” sticker has conveniently disappeared..

        • Anonymous says:

          If you want to play the game so much, just get the 360 version then. Or do you have more fanboy loyalty to Sony than to the actual companies making the games that you love?

          If anything, the Xbox fanboys are the ones who should be pissed. As reported earlier, Microsoft pretty much paid for the entire funding of this game on the idea that this would be an exlusive title because the Tales studio was already threated with closure. However, they were secretly working on the PS3 version the whole time while using Microsoft’s money to do so. Sony has a policy that they wont allow later releases for games available on other consoles unless they get a “superior” version, which is why Patty was removed from the 360 version. Apparently the lawyers at MS were retarded enough to allow a one-year loop-hole for the game’s exclusitivity in Japan. You won’t see the PS3 version in America because it is still exclusive here.

          As a platform agnostic, it is a shame that the PS3 die-hards in America cannot play such a wonderful Tales game. However, this was all pretty shady from Namco Bandai. Don’t expect Microsoft to save them this time.

        • iv’e heard so much good stuff about ves to the point that even i would totally pay full for it too. they probably wouldve scored a totally new dedicated fan…..or fans for that matter.

        • Meh. I think their sales strategy is rather confusing.

          “Oh we reelase a game. Now we release THE SAME GAME AGAIN, but witt EXTRA CHARACTER on a DIFFERENT CONSOLE!”

          And with ToS, they added some extra EX-Skills for PS2 version. Nice isn’t it?

          Why dey do dis?