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Phantasy Star Online 2: Eight Years Too Late

At E3 2019, during the Xbox E3 Briefing, Microsoft and Sega made the rather surprising announcement that Phantasy Star Online 2 would be releasing on the Xbox One and Windows PC in Spring of 2020. Some fans of the Phantasy Star Online series rejoiced at this sudden announcement. Others, like myself, feel that this announcement has come far too late.

PSO2 released in Japan way back in 2012, and has since gained over 600,000 total players, with around 25,000 currently playing regularly. The game is still fairly popular all these years later, with new content being released every month. PSO2 has also been supported with an unofficial English translation patch for pretty much the entirety of its existence, so non-Japanese fans have been able to join the fight as well.

I feel that it would be safe to say that most people who already have an established interest in the Phantasy Star Online series are already among the 600,000 players that have experienced the world of PSO2.

With this in mind, I feel that the English release of PSO2 has come far too late to matter, or to be successful. It is highly unlikely that English-speaking players of the Japanese version are going to be willing to throw away eight years of progress just so they can play a natively English version, especially since the fan translation group has confirmed that the translation project will continue despite this announcement.

Though it may be possible – and even likely that the Japanese version will experience an IP block once the English version launches, temporary (and in some regions, permanent) IP blocks have already happened to the game in the past and many players simply used VPNs to bypass this block, while others simply quit the game entirely.

Concerns have also been raised that the game may experience the introduction of Pay-To-Win mechanics, like those that were present in the Chinese and South-East Asia versions of the game. PSO2 is notable for being very fair with it’s Free-To-Play status, with most of its paid content being purely cosmetic or quality-of-life related, never requiring the player to spend a single cent in order to succeed at the game. Sega has not yet commented on any such changes to the monetization methods in the game, but there is certainly an established cause for concern.

Regardless of what state PSO2’s English release launches in, the fact remains that the core problem of this release is the timing.

Most people who care about the series have most likely already played the Japanese version, and getting new people to play an eight year old MMO that they’ve never heard of is going to be a very hard sell. We also have to question just how much more life PSO2 has in it. The first Phantasy Star Online ran for only 10 years, and there’s no telling just how many more years PSO2 will continue being supported. Adding in the fact that there are many competing MMOs on the market, both free and paid, PSO2 has a daunting task ahead of it to succeed. That is not to say that the game isn’t good – it is fantastic, actually. I personally played the game between 2012 and 2015 and enjoyed every minute of it, but it will likely be a huge uphill battle for the game to succeed despite that, and I just don’t feel that it is going to make it in the long run.

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  1. Christopher on July 13, 2019 at 3:33 pm said

    I remember years ago when looking for a new MMO, I was disappointed that there was no mention of bringing this over to the States. I had played PSO on my Gamecube and was really hoping to play something similar, but alas, I’ve got FFXIV now. It’s funny, the title of the article is the exact statement I made to my friend when I first heard they were localizing it.

  2. Excellent article. Can tell you’re like me, and actually played a fair amount of PSO2.

    And yeah, people in the west have literally been playing PSO2 all the way back in 2012 itself, in English, thanks to ArkLayer/AIDA’s patch, plus all the guides on PSO-World and Bumped, etc.

    The hardcore demographic, who wants to play PSO2 in English has already been doing so for the past 8 years, and like me, has dumped a lot of money and time in to it. To switch over to the English version also depends on whether there’s server and update parity between the 2 versions.

    But yeah, I totally agree: I don’t see many people in the west really getting in to PSO2 now; it’s too late in the game’s 10 year lifespan. But like you said, it’s still a very accessible and lenient F2P MMO, and most casual players won’t need to spend anything on the game to have a good time with it.

  3. I tried PSO2 and thought it was decent but it doesn’t compare to the simplicity or fun of the original PSO. The best PSO I’ve played since the original is the Nintendo DS version ‘Phantasy Star Zero’. The gameplay hook is similar and the writable conversation bubbles are cool. It’s just a shame they never created a 3DS version.

    The PSP Portable 2 version was barely okay and ‘Universe’ on PS2 sucked. The music is a key component of most games and for PSO the best score was found on the original.

    If I was sega I’d remaster or remake the original and call it ‘Anniversary’. What would be even better is being able to switch back and forth between the original’s graphics on Dreamcast and the updated visuals like 343’s Halo Anniversary. Release it in time for PSO’s 20th anniversary in 2020. It screams to be portable so they might want to make it a Nintendo Switch exclusive.

    • Man, phantasy star zero is so awesome, it deserves a remake or at least being able tl connect to a ñrivate server. I had so much fun running with randoms and going all the way up the tower to get shit i didn’t need xD
      I play it on my 3ds but sadly it freezes so much in my card beside no online, but stilm worth it because it has a really good music, nice graphics for the system, good looting mechanics (so much better than pso imo) and all in our hands!

  4. Roberto Diaz on July 13, 2019 at 7:25 pm said

    It’s never late, an example is i’ve a better ping connecting to the US than JP through vpn because i’m from Chile so i didn’t tried it, and there’s so many people just like me in the world that will try PSO2 now because before the ping was too high to even care to try, beside the guys that still play PSO that will jump in asap it releases (i know from ephinea discord/forums) even if they have already tried because the community aspect of it, because is fun to chat and talk about anything and while on it do a run to try and get that 1/9999999 drop
    For a game that everyone just though that would never come to the west, is never late my dude <3

  5. kjriwoutube on July 14, 2019 at 1:51 am said

    I wont be playing on NA Servers for The Most Part Because No Vita Version JP Version FTW .

  6. Yeah I’m still gonna play it.

  7. My bet is that this is the excuse Sega needs to say see this is why we didn’t bring it to the west in the first place it was unsuccessful and the next game will only be jp only again, for the same reasons stated people who wanted to play already played and prob won’t switch to the English version and also not many people know pso out here yes popular but it’s still niche

  8. I played with the English translation patch years ago briefly but can’t get in to it because the patching process was too cumbersome. There’s also another way to play an English version during that time and that’s the Asian servers but you need to get a VPN to do that. I just can’t justify doing that just for a game. I’m still perplexed why they decided to localize it just now since it might have done well back in the day. I agree with the post that this is most probably not going to do well next year as it’s an old game, there’s a lot of competition and it’s an extremely niche title. However I’m still going to play this when it comes out and enjoy the living hell out of this game… IF and that’s a big IF they don’t implement any BS pay to win nonsense mechanic. Please Sega… some of us who wanted a proper localized game then gave up on the series because we thought it’s never going to come out in the west so don’t ruin it with stupid pay to win BS. Just keep it like it is in the original Japanese version of cosmetic micro-transaction and I would gladly play and enjoy your game and might shell off a little bit of my hard earned greens on some cosmetic stuff and show my support. It may be too late or pointless for the people who played the translated version but not for me as I barely played it back then just don’t dash my hopes up with pay to win garbage. There should be better and legitimate ways to monetize the game if you (Sega) want to profit just not pay to win.

  9. James Yee on July 15, 2019 at 6:15 am said

    I tried a few times to play the PSO2 Japanese version but always hit one roadblock or another at setting up an Account in Japan so count me as a Dreamcast PSO fan who still hasn’t played PSO2. Do I think it’s WAY too late? Yes. Will I still play it? If I Can play cross platform XBOX and PC I sure will as I have kids who’d love to play and maybe even the wife.

    Me as an individual am normally fine with jumping through hoops to get something to work, but in my old age my a patience has faded especially when it comes to doing that multiple times for the family. Which means an English native version is welcome addition to me.

    • physalis17 on July 16, 2019 at 12:41 pm said

      Agrred. I tried playing PSO 2 with the English Patches years ago and it was a terrible experience because not everything translated properly. Not to mention getting past the Kanji captcha to create an account was a nightmare.. I jumped back onto the PSO:BB server I was playing on and .have patiently been waiting for the game to come to the States. Me and my friend are very excited for the US release of PSO 2. There is still hype for the Western release and I think the game will be around a long time because Microsoft is hosting the servers. SEGA’s cost is going to be very minuscule. .

  10. serricearmitage on July 15, 2019 at 10:00 pm said

    Not too late for me, never liked playing translation mods/patches, I like official english release of things, so I will be enjoying it when it finally comes out here, for however long that will be~

  11. Jeffrey M SnowKing on July 16, 2019 at 2:13 am said

    I’m excited for it, I know I’ll be playing it when it comes out. I have played PS since the Genesis days and loved PSO on GameCube.

  12. Yeah I feel similar that sega will use this as an exuse as to why to not do further releases and I doubt that sega will ever mention that anything about English players on the JP server. If a player is caught using the English translation patch Sega is within their full right to ban that player, out of sight out of mind so to speak. Though for the most part it is possible that unless a player is hacking or cheating, going after players using a language translation mod is probably quite low on their totem pole on importance of accounts to ban.

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