In the face of almost immediate outcry from fans everywhere, Atlus released a statement late tonight seeking to address the recent revelation that Persona 4 Arena will become the first PS3 title to be region-locked in all territories at release. To PS3 fans like myself who enjoy the region-free capability of our console of choice, it’s hard to imagine how the P4 Arena team could have imagined such a move would go over well with the community. Atlus, however, found themselves unprepared for the backlash. In an attempt to quell fans’ anger, they explained the reasoning behind the Persona 4 Arena region-lock:
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.
The statement, which can be read in full by clicking the Press Release link below, goes on to say that Atlus recognizes the legitimate concerns people have about this decision and insists that this will not be the start of a new pattern for future releases. In addition to promising to continue to listen to and learn from the wants of the community, they emphasize that the decision to region-lock was “business” and urge fans to keep in mind the “exceptional efforts” of the developing team behind the game. Only time will tell if the statement will be enough to satisfy the Persona community and win back their understanding and trust.