Atlus doesn’t want you importing Persona 4: Arena to play it early, you impatient obsessives! You can wait to make an enormous spirit teddy bear punch a robotic schoolgirl in the face in your own region!
Persona 4: Arena is one of the very few games for the PlayStation 3 that will be region locked. Most consoles through history have blocked games released in other territories on domestic consoles. The PlayStation 3 meanwhile has been region free since release, with most consoles playing most games from all over the world. Atlus confirmed on via a message in its official forums Thursday though that its new fighting game would be region-locked: “The PS3 version will be region-locked. To reiterate, the [North American] version of the game works for the North and South American regions. Also, keep in mind that both the NA and JP versions have both English and Japanese text and voice options, making them nearly identical. I’m unsure of what the case will be for the EU version.”
Atlus did not say why the game is region-locked unlike past PlayStation 3 releases. We’ve reached out to Atlus USA for comment but have yet to hear back.
One of the nice things about the PlayStation 3 compared to its predecessors is that it can freely play games from any region. Playing a Japanese or European game on your American PlayStation or PlayStation 2 was a hassle, requiring you to either solder a modification chip into the console to have it work around region-locking software on game discs or to use boot discs that you’d have to swap out while the system was attempting to read information. Not with the PlayStation 3 though. Games with no chance of release outside their region of release, like Another Century Episode R, are available to pop in to the console.
It’s possible that Atlus is concerned about sales of the game in specific regions. As Edge Magazine points out, Atlus game Catharine came out in Europe many months after it did in Japan and North America. It sold poorly on release, whereas Catharine enjoyed brisk sales in the US when it came out in the summer of 2011. Atlus might recognize that its audience in Europe and North America, while devoted an interested in its titles, aren’t big enough and each release needs maximum sales to justify localization. Cutting import sales out of the equation would presumably help.