Call for support over alleged racism
It was probably more than ten years ago that I heard it – long enough ago that I don’t have any way to source it anymore, so at this point it merely becomes anecdotal evidence: A small group of players proposed that the Japanese arm of Sonic Team was maybe a little intolerant of the American side of the original Phantasy Star Online. In Japan, Phantasy Star Online saw near constant updates – support from Sonic Team was direct, issues were resolved quickly, the game was patched frequently, and holiday-specific events and DLC quests were plentiful. If you lived in America, however, things were obviously a lot different. In North America, PSO was often close to a year behind Japan in almost every regard – if Japan was running Version 4.75 of PSO‘s server program, the American servers were probably still running something more like 2.1, and complaints of cheaters and hackers often fell on deaf ears.
But as previously stated, that’s all unverifiable anecdotes these days, and to some, such claims could borderline on racism.
However, another Sega fan is speaking out on the subject now, and this time, it’s over the Japanese release of Phantasy Star Online 2. On his blog “Segahates.us“, the self-proclaimed “PSO2 Gaijin” defines himself as:
[...] an ex-SEGA fan who has had enough.
I am not seeking to be unbanned from any SEGA service, nor would I accept any such offer. My personal anecdote is only supplied to provide an insight into the problems of the non-Japanese community of SEGA’s Phantasy Star Online 2.
The blog details his account of having put in thousands of hours and a significant amount of money in to PSO2 since its launch roughly a year ago – making him one of the more dedicated and popular players on his respective server. That, unfortunately, made him something of a target:
I had heard about random bannings of foreigners based on a minority of racist Japanese customers reporting any gaijin (charged epithet for foreigner) they saw as a matter of course, and SEGA playing along to appease them, but I never thought it could happen to me. Surely that had to be a silly rumor; except now it wasn’t, now I was the victim, and that rumor was all that I could think of to justify SEGA’s actions.
Almost my entire virtual life had been scrapped. The countless friends from all over the world, many of which were Japanese people, were all now cruelly locked away from me. They didn’t share SEGA’s views, they didn’t mind playing with gaijin – they were open minded and friendly people. And now, SEGA had stolen them from me along with thousands of hours of my time and hundreds of dollars.
Upon trying to contact Sega of Japan over this issue, our writer alleges he was shut out and ignored – Japan-native PSO2 fans received responses to their messages within only a few days, but “PSO2 Gaijin” went weeks without hearing anything in return.
I can only assume that in SEGA’s eyes, due to being a foreigner, I’m a lower customer – a lesser being who is not worthy of being tended to when he asks ‘what happened to that service I’m paying monthly to receive?’
As a matter of fact, I still had 3 months of premium fees paid up – some $75USD after all considerations – all of which was taken from me with no compensation. That is how little SEGA thinks of foreigners. We are to be mugged of our money, used and then ignored.
The blog even touches on the situation I recalled at the start of this post regarding the original Phantasy Star Online (and for all we know, this “PSO2 Gaijin” might even be the same source I originally read all those years ago):
SEGA could have and could still, at any time, turn on English, Italian .etc support, but they choose not to. They’re in an awkward situation in which they want to repeat the abusive treatment towards their fans in their administration of so many other online services; they want to release things years late and minus Japan-exclusive content. This is how they say ‘We love you’ to their own countrymen – by flipping the bird to everyone else.
The problem they have now is that foreign fans are on their Japanese servers, because the entire community knows that the Japanese servers are the only ones SEGA will look after properly.
The blog continues, going in to detail over the contradictory nature of Sega’s policy regarding foreigners connecting to PSO2‘s servers, speculation on how they will handle PSO2‘s English release, and perhaps most shockingly, accusations that Sega are “Japanese Nationalists”. Bold claims, to be certain.
There are a lot of different ways to look at an account like this. Certainly, a case like this could have been avoided had Sega of America done anything to keep its English-speaking fans in the loop as to the state of the game. Outside of announcing it for North American release at PAX in September 2012, the only other time Sega has chosen to issue information on the forthcoming PSO2 localization was to tell us that the release had been delayed – though when the release date was delayed from, and when the release date has been delayed to has never been clarified. With no other options, fans of Phantasy Star Online have no other option but to play in Japanese servers, something PSO2‘s Producer is apparently in favor of in spite of the game’s own Terms of Service saying otherwise.
This is a prickly issue. Is “PSO2 Gaijin” just another raging internet fanboy, lashing out for being caught doing something he wasn’t really supposed to be doing? Or is this part of a larger issue at hand, one that might have perpetrated for more than a decade? Tell us what you think in the comments, and make sure you visit Segahates.us to read the full rant.