Last week, I promised a post in which I would hold forth on the vices of the WiiU. However, this week we have heard AMAZING news from Atlus which trumps my desire to put smack to Nintendo once again. Atlus has decided, in their infinite wisdom, that Region Locking is a thing, and moreover, that it is a thing that should be in their upcoming Persona 4 Arena.
Needless to say, it is the position of Lusipurr.com that Region Locking is a bad thing, which ought not to be.
Yesterday, some habitually wrong-headed people rushed to the defence of Atlus–as they rush to the defence of every developer with whom they have a love affair, be it XSeed, Atlus, or 38 Studios. These people wasted no time belching forth their weakminded defences–even when those defences were based in nothing but their own puerile speculations. “What if Atlus are just trying to make future releases easier for other developers,” they cried, as if Atlus has any perceptible intention of letting another company re-release Persona games when they are so busily engaged in that process themselves; as if as-yet-unannounced and wholly-speculative future developers need Atlus’ generous, helping hand in the here-and-now to figure out how to do Region Locking on a different release down the road; as if such an action would somehow benefit such a development in the first place! For Region Locking is not a time-consuming developer decision; nor is it something that requires the work of programmers to convert and port–in fact, it is as simple as switching a few bytes of code: done at the factory-level where the discs are pressed, and involving nearly no programming overhead at all.
When pressed for the origin of these feeble protestations, the people in question quickly backed down, tacitly admitting that they had invented the excuses with which they had claimed to be combatting “irrationality”–for of course, the knee-jerk impulse to spread lies, misinformation, and self-invented excuses as if they were the Truth from Atlus is the motivation of a supremely rational mind rather than the miserable grasping of a dev-fanboy, eager to come to the rescue of his cherished corporate lover. And a good thing, too, for later in the day Atlus themselves issued their official PR line on why the Region Locking exists and what it means.
Claiming that it is not a “slippery slope”, and implying that it is a business decision by Atlus Japan (and not Atlus North America, or the developers) which is behind the decision, Atlus argues that the reason that region locking in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve is necessary is because of the “radical” price difference between Japan and North America. Simply put, Atlus feels that the Japanese price is so much higher than the North American price that Japanese gamers would prefer to go through the monumental hassle to import the American version rather than buy it from the shelves in Japan–for the two versions of the game are identical.
The problem with this asinine declaration is that the “radical” price difference comes to the tune of ¥1,100, or about $10. It is ludicrous to posit that a Japanese gamer would go to immense trouble to buy a game from North America where the savings would almost certainly be negated by shipping costs, and any marginal benefits outweighed by the huge delay in receipt of the desired product. Atlus’ disingenous nonsense answer does not belie malice, however, but rather a complete disconnect between business-decision-makers at the head office in Glorious Nippon and the developers and public face of the company here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
Nor do the short little manufacturers of droll corporate policy have much to fear from the dutiful masses of the homeland. Japanese gamers by and large do not care about the local non-issue of region locking, so uninterested are they in games from outside of their sanitised bubble. It is therefore all too easy for grey-faced men in suits to spend the hard-wrung goodwill capital earned by the Atlus team in North America, whose job it must now be to find some way to spin a thoroughly awful business decision. Persona 4 Arena will be the first and so far only game to be region-locked on the PS3, but this website fears that it will not be the last. Once the wall is breached, all manner of dire nonsense becomes possible, and once possible, it is only a short jump to plausible; for if this industry has shown us anything, it is that plausibility soon leads to a de facto state of affairs. It may not be a slippery slope–no one is arguing that there is a necessary causal link–but business practices push companies along otherwise untoward paths, unless they are ever-viligant against the internal movement to hurt their own customers in the name of bigger profits or better markets (Valve).
And after all, what is it but greed to argue that the Japanese must buy their $10 more costly JP copy of P4A rather than that from North America? In both cases, Persona 4 Arena is being sold, new, to a desiring fan. The decision was made–if the public statement is not a deflection–for the purpose of squeezing more profits from one region than from another. This website hopes than any additional profits which they would have earned from this deplorable choice will be wiped out by people refusing to buy the game, instead.
To reiterate: it is the position of Lusipurr.com that Region Locking is stupid and should be abolished universally and permanently. It is true that Atlus’ decision has justly earned them the ire of the masses–though they remain as-yet unrepentant. But the real threat is that the complaints of gamers may prove an insufficent deterrant for other companies–companies who are even less interested in the opinions of their fans, and even more interested in their would-be profits.