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Atlus USA Makes Statement on Persona 4 Arena Region Locking

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Posted on July 6, 2012 AT 06:09pm

Yesterday, word was starting to spread that Persona 4 Arena would be the first region-locked game on the PS3, and we brought you a statement from Atlus confirming that. Now, Atlus USA has released a full and official explanation of the situation.

The following is that statement in full. Basically, it seems to come down to this: The Japanese side was worried about players in Japan importing North American copies of the game. The standard retail price for Persona 4 Arena in Japan is 7,280 yen; due to the strong yen-to-dollar conversation rate currently in play, you could pick up a copy of the North American version of the game—before shipping—for 4,780 yen (a rough difference of about $30).

Is this a valid concern? On one hand, maybe, due to our copies of the game having full Japanese support in terms of text and voices. On the other hand, are a lot of people in Japan really going to look to importing a Western copy to save some money? Probably not. However that situation would have worked out, it seems it was of concern enough to cause Atlus to region encode copies of the game. And yet, at the same time, the message from fans seems to have been loud and clear on the matter—and I would be surprised to see the Japanese side of Atlus make such a decision again.

Anyhow, here is the statement from Atlus:

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.

Thank you.

Eric L. Patterson, Executive Editor
Eric L. Patterson got his start via self-publishing game-related fanzines in junior high, and now has one goal in life: making sure EGM has as much coverage of niche Japanese games as he can convince them to fit in. Eric’s also active in the gaming community on a personal level, being an outspoken voice on topics such as equality in gaming and consumer rights. Stalk him on Twitter: @pikoeri. Meet the rest of the crew.

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