Atlus announced last week that Person 4 Arena was going to be region locked, the first PlayStation 3 game to be region locked. Ever. Fans reacted harshly, as enthusiast tend to in these delicate situations. One “fan” wrote in the Atlus message board, “This game needs to bomb so hard that any time region locking is mentioned at a meeting again, the only words needed to be said in argument against it will be ‘Remember Persona 4 Arena’s sales figures.’”
Since the announcement that Person 4 Arena was to be region locked, Atlus released a statement clarifying why they went down that path.
“As we’ve ascertained from your impassioned responses online, this is obviously a tremendous frustration for many fans,” Atlus’s statement began. “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.”
The release continues:
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.
It’s clear that Atlus meant no malice, but they had to expect some sort of backlash from fans when making a clearly business focused decision. Considering how over half of the official statement consists of Atlus applauding how inspirational and awesome their fan base is, it’s a shame Persona 4 Arena will have this stigma attached to it. This is a game that reeks of fan service, built from the ground up for their audience. Whatever good will Atlus has built up is now being tested in the digital arena where every company must accept the repercussions of their business decisions.
It’s an awful catch-22 Atlus is trapped in. They need to make money from this game in order to make future Persona games and region locking is a simple solution. Unfortunately, the very act that is supposed to boost profit has burned a loyal fan base.
Well, not all fans are burnt. An Atlus faithful, Torri, writes on their official forum, “I wanted to say thank you for the amazing games you always put out. I recently read your response to the region lock for Persona 4 Arena and wanted to say that I feel the choice was more then fair, especially in this situation.”