ATLUS has confirmed what last week became a widely circulated rumour: the upcoming Persona 4 Arena will be region locked. This was the cause of much ire in the gaming community, as gamers who choose to import their titles from our eastern neighbours cried out in opposition of this choice. In their statement, ATLUS wanted to make it very clear that while they were unaware that this would elicit such a powerful response, they were nonetheless hearing what the fans had to say:
“As we’ve ascertained from your impassioned responses online, this is obviously a tremendous frustration for many fans. We understand the various perspectives on the matter. Those who fear this is a slippery slope, the beginning of a dangerous and unnecessary precedent. Those who import foreign hardware for a multitude of reasons and expect to be unlimited in their software selection. Those who aren’t necessarily affected by this issue, but who are principally opposed to it. We are not blind to these concerns and we pledge to grow ever more informed as to exactly what our fans want. It should be added that we were completely unprepared for the force with which the community communicated their disapproval.”
What they went on to say was that the choice to region-lock the title was purely a business decision.
“While we’re all one big ATLUS family, the reality is that the dramatic difference between the Yen and the Dollar makes for a dramatic difference in price.”
Basically, the problem comes down to this: ATLUS was worried that, due to the proximity of the release dates (the Japanese launch comes a scant two weeks before the North American launch), as well as the radical difference between the Yen and the Dollar, there was opportunity for the title’s North American sales to be cannibalized by those choosing to import the title from Japan.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that ATLUS is including dual-language audio in the western release of the game. This means that, while both the eastern and western releases of the game are identical in content, they will be selling at two radically different prices. Realistically, the only thing one would be getting by importing their copy of Persona 4 Arena is the game at a lower shelf price. Or, at least, that’s how you would see it from a business standpoint.
Personally, this has little effect on me. I’ve never imported a game before. However, I do know that there is a large market that does import, for various reasons, and that this decision has agitated them. I hope that, once you get your hands on the game, you may feel a little less ill-disposed toward the decision. Also keep in mind that the game’s multiplayer is still global: it hasn’t been affected by the region lock, so if that was one of your concerns, rest easy.
For any who are still upset over the region-locking, I encourage you to read the full release below. Hopefully it will be enough to convince you that this was a choice that ATLUS had to make, rather than one designed to impart control over the consumer.
“Friends of ATLUS,
The last week brought with it news that Persona°4 Arena™ would effectively become the first PlayStation°3 system game to be region-locked. We can today confirm that this is true; the game will be region-locked in all its respective territories of release.
As we’ve ascertained from your impassioned responses online, this is obviously a tremendous frustration for many fans. We understand the various perspectives on the matter. Those who fear this is a slippery slope, the beginning of a dangerous and unnecessary precedent. Those who import foreign hardware for a multitude of reasons and expect to be unlimited in their software selection. Those who aren’t necessarily affected by this issue, but who are principally opposed to it. We are not blind to these concerns and we pledge to grow ever more informed as to exactly what our fans want. It should be added that we were completely unprepared for the force with which the community communicated their disapproval.
There are, however, a few points to clarify. This is NOT the beginning of a new ATLUS policy, nor do we view it as a precedent or a slippery slope. If anything, your determination and dedication to what you believe in has certainly stood in the face of that. This is an isolated case, a situation precipitated by a number of factors, some of which are simply out of our North American hands. Moreover, and perhaps there is no way to convince our fans of this considering the magnitude of the betrayal many are feeling, but we are not doing this out of malice or a desire to control. Allow us to explain.
Persona 4 Arena achieves a number of triumphs for our North American publishing house. For years, our fans have asked us to include dual language audio in our games. Finally, with P4 Arena, we were able to deliver on that desire and include the exact same content as the Japanese release for our North American fans. Moreover, our North American community is often forced to wait months for a localized release (a plight our friends across the Atlantic can relate to). Again, with P4 Arena, we’re able to release within two weeks of Japan. We pushed hard for these things. We know our fans want them–well really, EXPECT them–and we did our best to get as much for our release as possible.
The unforeseen consequence in all of this was that we had a version of our biggest game of the year releasing within a couple weeks in two territories, both identical in content, but at radically different price points. Importing, as great as it is for gamers who otherwise can’t get access to a title, can also cannibalize the performance of a title in one territory to the benefit of another. While we’re all one big ATLUS family, the reality is that the dramatic difference between the Yen and the Dollar makes for a dramatic difference in price. So the decision was made, perhaps at the expense of some of our fans, clearly at the frustration of many, to region-lock Persona 4 Arena.
For many of you, there is no explanation that resonates, no justification that atones for this fact. We can only endeavor to earn back your confidence and, to learn from your arguments. We absolutely recognize the fear that this is the beginning of a trend. We in no way view it as such. Please also keep in mind that the game’s excellent online multiplayer is global, a fact that is in no way affected by the region-lock. Players can compete against fighters from all territories.
A tremendous team of talented developers and artists poured their blood, sweat, and tears into Persona 4 Arena, and every reaction we’ve ever received to the game has shown that those efforts are readily apparent. The decision to region-lock P4 Arena was a business one, one that has very clearly affected how many perceive the project, but we ask you to please not overlook the exceptional efforts of the people behind the game and to work with us through constructive dialogue.