Phantasy Star Online 2 is coming up on its first birthday in Japan, and the game is doing quite well for itself. The first numerical sequel to Sonic Team’s famed online role-playing game for the Dreamcast had 1 million registered players as of October, and it received another bump earlier this month when the game hit PS Vita in Japan. The PS Vita version of Phantasy Star Online 2, a free-to-play and free to download game, proved so popular that it sold 72,000 boxed copies during its first week on sale and helped boost Vita sales by almost six times. Players in the US anxious to start playing the game, whether on iPhone, PC, or Vita, were supposed to get their chance early this year, but now Sega has pushed back the localized release.
“Originally slated for an early 2013 launch, Sega can officially confirm that Phantasy Star Online 2 has been delayed,” a Sega representative told Polygon on Monday, “We don’t have any specifics but will update everyone as soon as there are more details to share.”
Despite its successes in the past year, Phantasy Star Online 2 is still very much a game in flux. Sega hasn’t finished work on iOS and Android editions of the game that are expected out in Japan sometime this year. It’s possible that Sega is delaying the release of the game in the US because it wants all editions available simultaneously, which would be ambitious considering that all players on all versions will be able to play with one another.
Sega is also still in the process of figuring out how to best monetize the game. It’s the company’s biggest move into the free-to-play game market to date, and it’s trying to build a game of high enough quality that it can compete with the heavyweights of the industry. “We are seeking to create a business model that functions while still allowing PSO2 to remain as much of an enjoyable experience as possible,” explained producer Satoshi Sakai in April 2012, “I honestly think Sega is the only maker that is willing to go this far [with free-to-play]. Even if we fail, we can get people to say, ‘They were five years ahead of their time.’”
Right now, Phantasy Star Online 2 makes its money with digital lottery tickets that give access to in-game items as well as access to personal rooms that you can decorate in the game’s world.