I'm sure if this title grabbed you, you have heard the news by now. Site after site after site has been making news about how PlayPark had dropped their IP block on anyone in the western world and had an English version of the game ready to play. This sounded like amazing news, especially for those like me who have wanted just wanted to play the next installment of a franchise so held dear that an official release to it is a system-seller. (Indeed, I upgraded my PC for the launch of Phantasy Star Universe and bought both the DSi for Phantasy Star 0 and the PSP for Phantasy Star Portable so this is not an overstatement.) However, not knowing the company hosting it, I figured I had to do my research before I play, and as such, never got to. It seems PlayPark has restored the IP block.
No matter where I went to look into this, I was unable to find an official statement welcoming players from either Europe or America. In fact, I couldn't find any statement at all from them. All I could find were some forum speculations about how it occurred with rumors ranging from Sega told them to open the IP block to it being a mistake that will likely only last a few days at best. It is also worth noting that the company having an English version is not exactly new either, as the site has full English available for all it's games for whatever reason.
As such, gamers were left a very interesting point where we literally had nothing but speculation as to what is going on until the IP block hent back up today. It was swift as gamers who thought they finally were getting to play got stuck behind screens that showed the whole thing was pretty much an accident. The Ships (as this game calls servers) now show that they are under maintenance unless you are playing from a regional IP, denying everyone else access to any character they made and anything they bought for the game.
But despite the individual cost, there is a silver lining to this situation being shut-down. You see, if this happens, there will be room for others to step forward and do this game proper, and with the volume increase PlayPark has been getting for PSO2 this week, it shows anyone else with an interest in actually bringing the game state-side that there is still a very eager audience who is willing to go to great lengths to play what is by all reports an amazing game. With that in mind, even if Sega doesn't want to do it directly, they should get some offers from others (like AeriaGames for example) who specialize in F2P games to do it for them. Suffice it to say, I'm going to be a lot happier if this is the way things go.
But what if no one makes Sega an offer or worse, Sega does what it's been known to as of late and just not give a shit about anyone outside of Japan, denying all such offers? Well, I can honestly say I would still prefer this way, as I already see an answer to that in development.
You see, I generally do not believe in piracy and will avoid it wherever possible. However, even I will partake if the company selling the game sends the clear signal they do not want my money, even if I want the game. So far, this has not been an issue I have run into since I'm lucky enough to live in a country where pretty much every game I've been made aware of and wanted has been released here (if it was released at all. I'm looking at you, Konami. No amount of apologies can bring back Silent Hills)... with the exception of PSO2. And while this game is Free-to-Play and costs no one anything to download, the money Sega might make on micro-transactions are still a source of income they have chosen not to even try for here. With this in mind, I have no issue with and (until I hear otherwise about an official release) I'm routing for a little something called Phantasy Star Online 2: Polaris Project. Basically a handful of gamers who love the franchise and simply want to see more people play it reasonably are working to create a private server for the US audience.
According to my initial searches despite being an early prototype and only being worked on by a 6-man team, this project has already managed to get lobbies, character creation, and total user interaction working. It may be a little down the road, but if Sega decides they don't care about our money, we will still be able to play a local server in the fairly near future.
But whatever the future holds, one thing is for certain. Everyone who has wanted to play this game are now watching... what will Sega do?
- GameZone: Phantasy Star Online 2 now playable in the West without workaround
- Gameranx: Phantasy Star Online 2 Available To Western Players
- MMOSite: Phantasy Star Online 2 SEA Removed IP Block!
- Aeria Games
- PlayPark: Phantasy Star Online 2 English page
- PlayPark Phantasy Star Forums: PSO2 and IP Lock
- PSO2: Project Polaris