Persona 4 Arena will be region locked so Atlus can squeeze more cash out of Japanese gamers.
The news that the European and North American versions of Persona 4 Arena would be the first PS3 title to be region locked was met with confusion from fans of the developer. Atlus has traditionally always been friendly with the import market, as western gamers desperate for their JRPG fix help drive sales for the publisher's more niche titles. Many worried that Atlus' decision to prevent Japanese gamers from importing western versions of Persona 4 Arena could set a "dangerous and unnecessary precedent." Atlus insists that isn't the case.
According to a recent statement from the publisher, aside from the region lock, the two versions of the game are identical. The North American version features dual language support and is launching only two weeks after its Japanese counterpart. Therein lies the problem. Games are notably cheaper in the West due to the lowered value of the Japanese Yen, and Atlus doesn't want Japanese gamers waiting extra two weeks and importing the cheaper Western version.
So, Japanese gamers are definitely getting the shaft on this one, but at least Atlus are being honest about it. The full press release can be read below.
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.