Phantasy Star Online 2 Ignores Western Audience In Favor of 2014 Asia Release?
“But... but what about me?”
(Update: a new career opportunity ad hints that a western localization might still be in the works, discussed here: Is PSO2 Finally Getting a Western Localization?)
In July 2012, Sega’s free to play Phantasy Star Online 2 released in Japan on Microsoft Windows, complete with Arks Cash shop page for in-game purchases made in real money. Later, in February 2013, it released for PS Vita, and is now tentatively scheduled for release on both iOS and Android sometime later this year.
Since the release of the first Phantasy Star on the Sega Master System in 1988 in the United States, a fan following was born. Subsequent years have only seen the fan love intensify as the franchise continues to balloon. With Phantasy Star titles featured on every single new Sega console, and remakes and new releases on the PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, Xbox 360, and PC, it's no wonder that original announcements for PSO2 to be released "early 2013" were met in North America with high enthusiasm.
However, in spite being playable last year at PAX Prime, stateside disappointment ran high when Sega announced in March that the US version of the game would be delayed. No real reason was given for the delay. As a Sega spokesperson told Polygon, "We don't have any specifics but will update everyone as soon as there are more details to share."
Unfortunately, since the March announcement, it seems there have been no more details to share. No new news or timeline have been even tentatively announced for the North American release of PSO2.
Meanwhile in Asia...
“Phantasy Star Online 2 plans to release in several Asian countries in 2014. Gamania Digital Entertainment will launch PSO2 in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. AsiaSoft will handle the Southeast Asia territories in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia. Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
The localization process isn’t just limited to dialogue translations, rather, it will highlight the cultural differences of each territory through unique items and events. For example, players could see costumes and lobby events matching their native customs and traditions. In addition, some territories may re-record character voices to speak in their native languages.”
Early reports of this news came last month by roundabout ways announcing an English-language version, and many articles on the subject cited an investor relations report on AsiaSoft's site that no longer appears to exist. Now, at least, we are one step closer to a real confirmation, and a tentative release date.
Those readers in Southeast Asia may receive this news with lukewarm cheer, since AsiaSoft has managed to make its mark on the publisher blacklist with its ineptitude concerning Korean MMORPG Ragnarok Online 2, another long-anticipated online free to play sequel.
For their sakes, we hope that Phantasy Star Online 2 is fraught with a little less drama.
But what does this mean for America?
Official English announcements may be posted soon to verify the much-translated Japanese news, but currently the news has been met with widespread North American disappointment and impatience.
The questions have already started to fly. What will this mean for a potential PSO2 release in North America? Are we next? When will Sega have anything to say about it?
Many US players, impatient with the long delay and lack of official feedback on timelines, have been content to play the Japanese version with fan-made English patches. While this technically violates the game’s EULA, Phantasy Star Online is one of those franchises with a fanbase that won’t quit, and many players will do whatever it takes to get their game on.
Still, with more and more NA players losing patience with the lack of Sega’s communication and turning to these unofficial means of playing the Japanese release, it’s inevitable that the fan fervor for an NA release is going to start dying off.
People do move on, even from Phantasy Star Online.
So what do you think?
Does this announcement of an Asia release help keep hope alive, or just crush our dreams further under heel?
(Many thanks to user Dead_1424 for letting me know about the Relic Entertainment ad discussed here!)