While SEGA had previously developed arcade rhythm games such as Samba de Amigo, Crackin' DJ, and Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Arcade, it wasn't until maimai in 2012 that SEGA would begin making rhythm games with a more competitive focus and maintaining them in a fashion similar to competing Rhythm Game franchise BEMANI, which previously had uncontested dominion over the arcade rhythm game market. This effort to Follow the Leader has since given BEMANI a run for its money, with the three games regularly making it to "top-grossing arcade games" lists.
All of the games use Sega's ALL.Netnote (Amusement Linkage Live Network) online infrastructure for storing player data; the player logs in by using a SEGA Aime card, Bandai Namco's Banapassport card (which is obviously also used on Namco's games), or the Amusement IC card which can also work on games that take Banapassport, e-amusement, or NESiCA cards. Having player data allows the player to save records, unlock new songs, amongst many other things.
Games in the Performai series:
- maimai (2012-2020 for classic hardware, 2019- for Deluxe)
A radial-scroll game best known for its "washing machine" cabinet design. Rings spawn in the center and go towards the edge of the screen, at which point the player has to hit the corresponding buttons, while occasional "slide" and "touch" notes require the player to interact with the touchscreen. It is the only game to receive a hardware revision thus far, with maimai Deluxe making use of a new cabinet and hardware starting in 2019.
- CHUNITHM (2015-)
A more conventional vertical-scrolling rhythm game with a "hallway" perspective similar to Sound Voltex and Guitar Hero, CHUNITHM has the player pressing on the correct sections of the "Ground Slider" sensor bar to hit notes. Its twist on the formula comes in the form of "AIR" notes, which must be triggered by waving one's hand through an infrared sensor.
- O.N.G.E.K.I. (2018-)
Another hallway-style vertical-scrolling game, this one features a horizontal joystick, two sets of three buttons, and two side buttons on the inner walls of the cabinet. The player must not only hit the correct notes, they must also use the joystick to stay on the track and waves of pink orbs, and optionally collect yellow orbs known as "Bells". This game places emphasis on battling opponents; the player assembles a team of three characters of their own with their own stats and effects and try to knock out the enemy team by playing well enough. Characters can be picked either from the player's digital collection or by inserting physical cards into the machine's three card slots.
All three games have not officially been released outside of the Asia Pacific or Australia. maimai is available in much of that area, CHUNITHM is slated for a Summer 2020 release in non-Japan Asia in the form of CHUNITHM SUPER STAR, and O.N.G.E.K.I. remains Japan-only. A US location test of maimai was conducted from late 2016 through early 2017; a location test of CHUNITHM in the same region was mentioned as a possibility but never happened. Round 1's USA branches started importing maimai "classic" cabs running maimai FiNALE in 2019, with no online features available.
The series lacks a centralized webpage, but it does have a dedicated Twitter account for Japanese-reading fans.
Tropes pertaining to the Performai series as a whole:
- Copy Protection: Don't even think about owning a cab for private use. Performai cabinets come with security measures to ensure that they are only run by authorized arcades, and if they go too long without handshaking to SEGA's servers, they will self-brick.
- The Arcaea collaboration in winter of 2020 througn 2021, the first collab in which one outside game crosses over with the entire trilogy in a single event, rather than just one game out of the three.
- All three games feature songs from Project SEKAI. Project SEKAI later got a song from all three games: "the EmpErroR", "Don't Fight the Music", and "End Mark ni Kibou to Namida wo Soete".
- Harder Than Hard: All of the games have the Expert difficulty followed by Master difficulty in common.
- Nintendo Hard: All three games have skill ceilings rivaling that of BEMANI games, with the highest levels requiring a few years of playing the game to master if one does not already have experience with rhythm games in general. maimai and CHUNITHM are at least easy to pick up, but O.N.G.E.K.I. gets special mention because the unorthodox control scheme also introduces a relatively high skill floor.
- Over 100% Completion: As of maimai Deluxe, all three games have a maximum score of 101.0000% or 1,010,000note . Getting that last 1% relies on performing "extra credit" actions like getting Critical Perfects on Break notes in maimai, simply getting Justice Criticals in CHUNITHM, and getting Bells in O.N.G.E.K.I..
- Rank Inflation: The judge ranks have these in a manner similar to beatmania's P-GREAT judgement:
- maimai Deluxe has Critical Perfect above Perfect. On the standard out-of-101% Achievement system, Critical Perfects only add extra score if they are done on Break notes. On the Deluxe Score system, Critical Perfects are worth 50% more than a Perfect.
- CHUNITHM has Justice Critical over Justice, which is worth 101% of the note value while regular Justice is worth 100%.
- O.N.G.E.K.I. has Critical Break over Break. O.N.G.E.K.I. R.E.D. adds Platinum Critical Break.