We’ve been worried about Sega for some time now. There’s been no shortage of cause for concern. Staff layoffs, delayed releases, and high profile E3 2012 absences have cast a pall over the once proud publisher of games like Chu Chu Rocket and Virtua Fighter. Not all is lost though! At least one of those big games that didn’t make it to Sega’s booth at E3 in June has thankfully been confirmed for release in the United States and Europe sometime next year. Sega is bringing Phantasy Star Online 2 to the west.
In a press release issued on Monday morning, Sega confirmed that its ambitious free-to-play massively multiplayer online role-playing game would make it to Europe and North America in 2013. “Phantasy Star Online was a revolutionary game when it was released, and we want to make sure that its successor in the series is every bit as ambitious,” said Sega America VP of Digital Businesses Chris Olson, “We look forward to introducing Phantasy Star Online 2’s unique, easy-to-access multiplayer action to the rest of the world next year!”
Phantasy Star Online 2 certainly won’t be as revolutionary as its predecessor, no matter how enthusiastic the publisher may be. Coming 12 years after its predecessor, online role-playing games have become, even wholly free ones like Phantasy Star Online 2 have become as common as clouds. It will have to work hard to distinguish itself from the competition.
Sega did not comment on which versions of the game will be coming west. The game opened for business on PCs in Japan on Wednesday, and editions for iOS, Android, and the PlayStation Vita are expected out in the next year. Will Sega bring them all to the west or just the PC version, which arguably carries the least risk in localization?
The game’s creators have their hearts in the right place at least. “The number one thing we want to provide players in Phantasy Star Online 2 is an adventure that changes every time they log in,” said the game’s producer, Staoshi Sakai, “Just as great table-top RPG experiences revolve around imaginative and unexpected encounters, we want players to consistently be surprised as they explore dungeons and undertake quests.” Sakai’s commitment to something that feels alive, rather than a cheap, rote experience meant to trick players into spending more on microtransactions, is commendable.
Sega also opened a website for the game’s US release. There’s little there for now, but fans of the original can visit and get psyched for leveling their mags.