An Open Letter to SEGA This letter will

An Open Letter to SEGA

This letter will be to express my extreme discontent with SEGA’s nationalistic and preferential treatment, biased towards the Japanese, and hopelessly against devoted and loving foreign (to Japan) fans. It will also be to communicate my bad experience with SEGA’s Phantasy Star Online 2 (PSO2) service and as an outline of why other non-Japanese people should avoid paying to use such services from SEGA in future.

This letter concerns a general disrespect SEGA has for those outside of Japan. This isn’t imagined or exaggerated and has become a widely known fact of life within the global SEGA fan community.

Let’s start with my own anecdotal experience and extrapolate the problems facing a non-Japanese customer of SEGA.

My Phantasy Star Online 2 account had over 3000 hours on the clock and perhaps around $5000 USD worth of virtual property accrued (estimated by taking the number of costumes available and multiplying by a median of silver and gold scratch pricing). I had meticulously ensured that I had every single accessory, outfit, voice, hairstyle, lobby action and weapon (Nacht and otherwise) that was released.

My virtual room, for which I paid a monthly fee to rent, was one of the most visited on any ship (server), and my equipment was perhaps amongst the best possessed by any player. What I’m trying to hammer in is that I was heavily invested in PSO2, and I poured my heart into it. I was contributing to the community and the health of the service through my utter dedication.

When I logged in one day to see that my account had been banned from further use, one can only imagine how they would feel in a similar situation. It was completely devastating. That which was mine had been locked away from me, and an entire world into which I had been enticed, had been denied to me in future. No reason was presented, I was banned and that was it.

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.

But, I know what you’re thinking, because I thought it too:

If I write to SEGA and ask them to explain themselves, they’ll help, or at very least explain why I was banned in the first place. They’ll care about my situation and offer me guidance at this time! After all, I’ve given them hundreds of dollars in this game alone in this year alone, and thousands of dollars over the course of my lifetime.

Both I, at the time, and you now, would be wrong. SEGA ignored my letters.

Speaking to others in the community, this seems to be policy. Not one foreign person I spoke with had received a response from SEGA, not even those who were not banned and were only writing to ask a basic question.

For all my devotion and money, SEGA wouldn’t even respond to an email (which I wrote out in brief and plain Japanese script, checked by a Japanese friend). I gave them numerous weeks, and re-sent the message through several of the PSO2 website’s forms. No response.

Japanese customers describe getting responses within three days, but I’m not Japanese and I haven’t gotten a single reply. 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.

There’s already English code within the program, we PSO2 players had known that since Open Beta for PSO2. 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. SEGA doesn’t want to destroy their foreign sales numbers on a NA/PAL localized release, so instead they appease their nationalist leanings by abusing foreigners on their Japanese servers, denying them support and banning them whenever any unsubstantiated report comes in about their activities.

SEGA would no doubt argue that their Terms of Service (ToS) as it stands today (they changed it in recent months) stipulates no foreign connections. But, the company invited us in when no such stipulation was in place, and then when it was added, PSO2’s producer stated that SEGA would not be enforcing that section of the contract.

Any court in the free world will strike that section down under the concept of estoppel (which essentially stops people from presenting evidence they will act in a certain manner in regards to their legal rights and then doing something different, often leading to negative consequences for other contracting parties). This section of the ToS is essentially moot.

PSO2 producer, Satoshi Sakai, has been aware of the foreign community for nearly a full year and has expressed that these players will be allowed to continue, contravening the section of the ToS which denies foreign access. This is not some act of kindness, but as previously stated, an attempt to not poison a potential secondary-market for the game; they hope that dedicated foreign fans will give up their full-service Japanese server playtime in exchange for an ersatz and delayed North American/European server – which, if true to precedent, will close down a year before the Japanese server.

Despite SEGA fans worldwide expressing a vocal demand to be allowed to stay on the Japanese servers (officially; including proper language support and services), and for those servers to be expanded to accommodate all nationalities, Sakai and SEGA have denied this request, with no legitimate reasoning.

Why might this be? Well, let us look at what PSO2 Producer Satoshi Sakai has had to say to and about foreigners!

One of the only times he’s said anything about them is when he decided foreigners were to blame for the hacking epidemic in the game. Nope, it surely couldn’t have been SEGA’s poor security and Game Guard’s futile attempts to plug the holes – it was those pesky foreigners! Foreigners have to be the ones who are hacking, because cheating is just not Japanese. If Sakai, SEGA and the PSO2 team were to play their own game they’d quickly realise that most hackers are Japanese, operating in team groups, with locked MPAs (Multi-Party Areas/maps) which regularly are left open by mistake, allowing one to see their actions.

A quick look over the Team Rare Drop Ranking will quickly show you which teams these are; but no, they’re Japanese, so they’re beyond questioning.

If Phantasy Star Online 2 were to come out in the West and in other regions, at this point, SEGA is likely to attempt a heavily delayed and diminished release (they’d almost have to, given how the premium gatcha scratch programs work). This is supported by their similar pathetic efforts with Phantasy Star Online Episodes 1-2, Phantasy Star Online Blue Burst, Phantasy Star Universe and the many portable iterations in the series.

For all of these games, when it came to fans outside of Japan, SEGA released the games very late, without Japanese-only content included, with bare-bones moderation (often non-existent) and a content rotation six months to one year delayed. In summation, the Japanese get everything and they get it first, and everywhere else is thrown the crumbs from their table.

Being a non-Japanese MMO customer of SEGA is like volunteering to pay for a company to abuse you and belittle your continued support for their business.

SEGA’s gaijin shaming continues further however; they implicitly encourage a culture which blames SEGA of America for shortfalls. SEGA of Japan is the parent company, and if their subsidiaries are not performing well, then they are vicariously responsible, as it is within their scope of power to iron out inefficiencies and mismanagement.

The bottom line is that SEGA has demonstrated over and over that they’re not just a Japanese company, but they are Japanese nationalists who value and prioritize Japanese clients over those from elsewhere.

I, like many others outside of Japan, owned a Master System, a Genesis/MD, Sega Saturn (!) and a Dreamcast. I was brand loyal. Even when SEGA was facing financial ruin and in the school yard, others kids would make fun of my poor choice game companies, I supported SEGA. I didn’t support them because they were Japanese, I supported them because I loved their games and felt like part of their community.

It would only be a few years after the playground that I would find out how little SEGA cared for me and their foreign fans.

I invested thousands of dollars into Dreamcast hardware and software, believing SEGA’s flagrant misrepresentations that they wouldn’t scrap the likes of Shenmue and Virtua Fighter 4 amongst others for US release (although SEGA shafted ALL Dreamcast fans on VF4 eventually). Basically all of the late-era Dreamcast games were sold to Microsoft as Xbox exclusives. How foolish I was – SEGA had my money now, so they didn’t care that they were leaving us and many tens of thousands of other families high and dry. They would be software developers now, and I, we, their supporters, could go screw ourselves.

Japanese fans certainly got screwed over by the Dreamcast as well, but no one got screwed as hard as American Dreamcast fans. To double the insult, it’s worth noting that SEGA owes its founding to American sales.

To SEGA, I say that there is a growing resentment from your foreign fans, and with the neglect you show them and the favoritism you show towards your Japanese clientele, it’s no wonder that SEGA isn’t doing so well in the modern age, and that western sales are not as desired. At a time in which Japanese game companies are struggling, SEGA actively pushes their foreign fans away.

To everyone else who reads this, I say:

While my exact circumstances with PSO2 may not befall you, it is important to remember that as a foreigner, Sega’s past and current attitudes should lead you to believe that they see you as an expendable and unimportant secondary market. I will never buy a SEGA product again, and if you’re not Japanese, then for the reasons above, I strongly advise you to consider your options.

If you have to try the latest awful Sonic game or the newest abortion that calls itself a Shining Force title, I recommend buying second hand and denying SEGA corporate your money. If that’s too much of a hassle, I have no doubt there are more inventive methods of attaining games while still achieving the same result.

Once your biggest fan,

Just another PSO2 Gaijin

Feel free to leave a comment below

Update: 5/6/13 – Since writing the Open Letter and sending SEGA a link, they have responded to my request for answers on why I was banned with a statement about the rule against foreign connections. I don’t allege SEGA is doing anything illegal in regards to PSO2, they’re just not being very good to foreign fans.

Please view my about page (on the menu at the top of the page) to view the offer I make to take this site down if SEGA decides to step up and do the right thing. E3 is close – good opportunity, me thinks.

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51 thoughts on “An Open Letter to SEGA This letter will

  1. I had a similar experiece through the Saturn and Dreamcast era, living in a region where most of the best games only existed in a theoretical capacity. I agree that it’s getting very difficult to justify giving Sega money.

  2. SEGA’s support for PSU was atrocious. Tons of bugs, glitches, and hackers were left unaccounted for even today and its unfortunate to hear something like your experience…

    I agree with you. This is not okay.

  3. Not played PSO2, but their respect for their foreign fanbase does leave a lot to be desired. However, I am sure there are many Japanese fans who, like me, still want to see an end to the Shenmue Saga… I invested so much time to never get a conclusion (for anyone who hasn’t played it, find the intro with Iwao Hazuki and Lan Di on Youtube, it’s exceptional).

    They are outsourcing and putting their names on any crap now, Aliens: Colonial Marines being the biggest example. The best game with the SEGA name on I’ve played in a while is Vanquish, and that was Platinum Games anyway…

    Give me SoR2, Shinobi III, PSO1, Shenmue 1&2, Athlete Kings, Winter Heat, Dark Savior, Panzer Dragoon Saga anyday… Oh, and Treasure’s Gunstar and Guardian Heroes anyday…

  4. Hi there! I’m going to be ‘that guy’ for this response.

    Frankly, there are no sympathies to be had with this case. Spending 3000 hours on a game littered with Japanese people and yet you have no clue how the Japanese work? Laughable, at best. You have two people to blame for your ban, but I’ll get on to that in a bit.
    You try to poke fun at how Sega of Japan (SoJ) claimed it was the foreigners who were cheating, but that’s the truth. Anyone who has played a PSO game knows the name, ‘Broomop’. This is the first person you should be blaming for why your account has been banned.

    Because of Broomop and other like-minded foreigners, we experienced about a month or so, after release, of numerous cheating incidents this is why the ToS was changed to forbid foreigners. For example, they’d use their programs to place player characters in out of bounds areas around the Arks Ship. Do you know what happened to those players, the victims of these pranks? They got banned. That’s right, one of your fellow kinsmen, a foreigner playing PSO2, was responsible for the banning of many players including other foreigners. These cheaters also placed NPCs in inaccessible areas. Marvelous, isn’t it? Oh, but of course blame how SoJ didn’t patch up the holes at first, that makes everything else so much more understandable, doesn’t it? It’s their fault they got hacked, isn’t it? Totally not the fault of the people who did it, am I right?

    The second person you have to blame is Julius Robert Oppenheimer. Look him up on Google, if you have to. I don’t even need to explain why this is the reason why some Japanese act the way they do, and why one or more Japanese people decided to report your account. Any smart foreigner on PSO2 knows they have to lay low, stick within their own communities and not get in the faces of native Japanese playing their own game. From what you’ve written, it’s almost as if you had been aspiring to become the most well-known foreigner in PSO2. Whether this was intended to or not, your attitude towards the game and the people playing it was naive (Perhaps this will serve as a decent learning experience for when you decide there’s another Japanese online game you want to play).

    Finally, and probably the most hilarious part of all of this, you seem to think you’ve been banned unfairly. The ToS forbids players outside of Japan from playing the Japanese PSO2. You went out of your way to go against that, but think it’s completely wrong that you have been banned. I’m afraid it doesn’t matter how much time you have spent or how much of your hard earned money you spend on their game, nor does it matter how many friends you’ve made, whether they be Japanese or not, breaking the rules means the risk of being banned. This is a very simple concept to understand.

    I hope you do learn from this experience and stick to online games that do not forbid foreigners. It would be such a shame to see that much time and large amounts of money being thrown away again.

    Just another PSO2 Gaijin

    • I thank you for your response.

      You say that I shouldn’t have started playing a Japanese-only game in the first place, and that would be a perfectly valid point, except that section which forbade foreign connections was added months after I began playing, and as addressed in the letter above, is at law, largely moot – the courts wouldn’t uphold it on grounds of estoppel; they would read the rest of the contract as though that section was not in place.

      Perhaps you’re right that I may have been left unbanned if I’d kept a lower profile, and yes, I was naive to expect that I would be seen as a human being and not simply a gaijin. I can’t deny that; all I can say is that I believed in the good of people, and of SEGA. This may have been misplaced.

      Broomop is a very visible hacker who seeks a name for himself, and that’s what people know him (and have known him since PSO on Dreamcast), but the majority of hackers in PSO2 are Japanese (see my section in the letter above on how this underground-hacking works).

      Game Guard hasn’t been cutting it for years, and SEGA coded the game in a way that left it very open to exploitation. I think they more than anyone are responsible for hackers, but I’m not condemning them for their lack of security, I’m condemning them for asserted that hacking is largely a problem caused by the gaijin minority.

      Your refer to Oppenheimer, and in doing so I assume the bombs dropped on Japan. I’d note that Japan wasn’t exactly innocent in ww2 as they’d like to believe (Rape of Nanking, Unit 731, Pearl Harbor, Bombing of Darwin .etc). But still, I’d like to believe that we, as a human collective, could move forward from a bad time that increasingly less of us were around to see.

      I don’t feel as though the Japanese have an excuse to mistreat Americans because WW2 happened, and I don’t feel like Americans have an excuse to mistreat Japanese people for that reason either.

      In fact, if not for WW2 and the US presence in Japan, SEGA would have never been formed, as if you go into their foundation story, SErvice GAmes was formed by a US Ex-Serviceman who headed the company up until his retirement. In my view, SEGA was, or should have been, an example of how once enemies can overcome their differences and co-exist to make a better world for all of us.

      I appreciate your response and commend you for your civility.

      Just another PSO2 Gaijin

    • You sound like an apologist. Nobody cares if there were two pronounced hackers that happened to be American. ANYBODY can hack, doesn’t matter what race you are, no matter how much you’d like to make them seem superior; if you and SEGA’s staff had some clarity of mind you’d realise the same. They are better off revamping the server to make it more secure rather than discriminating against the rest of the world, not only for the “foreign” player’s benefit but for their own.

      Don’t “get into the faces of native Japanese players”? You might as well tell him not to enjoy the game to its full extent. If PSO’s PRODUCER said he wouldn’t be enforcing such a rule, don’t you think he has good reason to feel that way? Or is he just an American apologist? Or maybe he realises that to make money you can’t discriminate against the rest of the whole goddamn world just because they (have no choice but to) play a game that’s not their native server?

      And who the hell are you to judge what this guy does with his time, anyway? Is it just so you can pepper your mundane existence with some excitement? I’ve made some great friends due to online gaming, including people that are native Japanese.

      Poor SEGA. How will they ever deal with these scary foreigners, giving them their hard earned cash and time? How will they deal with the fact they are creating games for a market situated in a country they have historical issues with but was only made possible due to their investment?
      See, it’s not about him being banned from a game he “wasn’t supposed to be on” (but has been allowed to play up until this point). All I see is discriminatory behaviour performed through a goddamn video game company. I’ve read many things about SEGA’s racist mindset from the time they had to cooperate with SOA, and it bothers me, because as PSO Gaijin noted, Japan is far from innocent when it comes to historical atrocities.

      People (and Gamers) shouldn’t be discriminated against by their nationality, especially when their support is needed. Wherever you’re from, I’m sure you can agree with that.

      • Just to play both sides of the fence here I also feel that Sega does indeed have a moderate dislike for foreigners. Do I think it’s right? No. But it’s their company and they can do what they want.

    • “Because of Broomop and other like-minded foreigners, we experienced about a month or so, after release, of numerous cheating incidents this is why the ToS was changed to forbid foreigners. For example, they’d use their programs to place player characters in out of bounds areas around the Arks Ship. Do you know what happened to those players, the victims of these pranks? They got banned.”

      1st off, if you are going to mention Broomop and not Sziadan, then no, you obviously haven’t been following the hackers around PSO2 or what they have been up to. So don’t throw around Broomop as an example for your experience with PSO. Even if you played only BB on Schthack you’d know who Broomop is. Broomop does what he does to make profit off of selling his hacking client.

      Secondly, you seem to not know what was exchanged between the players who “hacked” and moved the client order NPCs in Ship 2, my current ship, out of bounds from players. It was a bug or rather a hole in the game’s system that allowed players to take over an NPC and control them. After they dropped control, the NPC would return to default and stop where ever it was, hence how they “hung” Koffie above the Block Elevator. This exploit was done to garner SoJ’s attention to the bug so they could see it and fix it before someone took it out of hand to where it was a long term issue. After having helped SoJ find this issue, to which the “pranksters” came forth and admitted responsibility, explaining the situation to SoJ in full, Sega promptly banned them for basically finding a bug in the game and bringing it to their attention. Most companies, Google, Firefox, and Paypal included usually PAY people to give them this info. I have no doubt that if the “hackers” been Japanese, they would have been let off the hook or even thanked.

      While I agree that spending 3000+ hours in PSO2 is outrageous, I still find it absurd to sit here and say that the English community, let along the Spanish-speaking, Russian, and French communities within PSO2 are “laying low”. If you believe that, you have never been to B-20 since Closed Beta.

  5. The only SEGA game I play is PSPo2, and it’s pretty noticeable that SEGA doesn’t care for their foreign customers.
    Their official website for PSPo2 is only in Japanese (thank god for Google translate).
    They have special servers set up for only Japanese players, while everyone else (French, Spanish, American, German, etc.) is crammed into one server.
    On top of that, they’ve released DLC that works on all systems (US,EU,JP), but is only available in Japanese text, along with extra content found only on JP versions of the game.
    In all;
    GOD DAM IT SEGA!

  6. I am just as angry about PSO2 and Sega US’s lack of communication after the delay. It’s bad enough that they decided to back a terrible Aliens game and Gearbox apparently stole money from them to fund it.

  7. Wasn’t the latest wave of bans for RMT?
    You might have stood out too much if someone reported you out of spite…

  8. This is almost on the level of the infamous final fantasy 13 rant, but I should probably be fair and give you more credit than that guy. Either way…

    I’m…

    Just another PSO2 Gaijin

  9. The only part I disagree with you is the “latest awful Sonic game” part, because the most recent Sonic games were awesome.
    Other than than I totally agree with you.

  10. Fantastic article! No ranting, just peaceful protest with hard, true facts. I do commend you, sir. Great job! As a SEGA fan myself, I haven’t experienced too much of this, as my favorite SEGA franchise is Sonic the Hedgehog, which isn’t the hottest in the Land of the Rising Sun, but it does very well in North America and Europe, as you surely know.

    Not sure if you were aware of this or not, but SEGA has not been releasing very many of their 3DS eShop titles overseas, INCLUDING the Sonic ones, which I find incredibly trivial. Sonic: Triple Trouble is one of the best selling titles on the eShop in North America, but that one, along with two other Game Gear titles, are the only ones in our North American Nintendo eShop, while Europeans have probably a good dozen at least, with more to come, and the Japanese have a boat-load of them! Just letting you know that it doesn’t end with PSO2, and that this is a shining example of this. Apparently, Nintendo is supposed to be helping SEGA bring the games over soon, which brings me to another point: SEGA has had a lot of financial trouble lately, and while I know that this doesn’t make for a good answer to their overseas screw-ups of the Saturn and Dreamcast, this seems to be a very good thing to consider when wondering why bringing certain games overseas just isn’t possible for SEGA. I mean, they had to team up with Nintendo to bring over Game Gear games to the 3DS….it kind of worries me…

  11. I find it funny how “A human being” thinks that the Japanese don’t like foreigners because of WWII, that’s simply not true unless that Japanese person is a very old person that happens to have some kind of grudge against the country that hurt his/her nationalist ego. If Japan hates the US so much why is their comercial-pop culture now a days so heavily influnced by the US but multiplied by 10?

    Anyway, great article, I really haven’t ran into trouble with SEGA since I don’t play PSO2 and I only played the original one on the Dreamcast, but I can see where you’re coming from, I’ve heard many complaints in the past about similair things. I guess the problem here is within SEGA of Japan themselves, maybe they have some kind of nationalist bias, lets not forget about the whole SEGA of America thing that happened a few years ago. Sega is not the only Japanese company that does this last time I checked, which was around two yars ago. You are simply another victim.

    Also reffering to the Dreamcast thing, since the US were kind of left out in that time don’t you think it’s fishy that the EU Dreamcast players weren’t? That’s because of a guy named Peter Moore which is the #1 reason why the Dreamcasted bombed so hard in the US and killed the Dreamcast (just so he can be hired by Microsft and consequently make the late era Dreamcast games XBOX exclusives) so it’s not exactly SoJ’s fault in that regard. Also, the Saturn was a failure from the start since the Playstation and Nintendo 64 were much more popular systems with better looking games at the time.

    Have you tried contacting SEGA of Japan using a Japanese email host? I play a Japanese MMO as well and the only way they can/will reply to you is by using a Japanese made e-mail adress (something about other e-mail adresses being incompatible with servers, kind of like MIXI, a Japanese social site which is invite only), so maybe you should try that method of contacting them if you haven’t already.

    Again, great article and I hope you raise people’s awareness with it.
    Best of luck to you for the future my friend!

  12. Unfortunately everything you wrote has been common knowledge amongst Sega fans since PSO blue burst (well, it was known sooner, but I’d say it became common knowledge around Blue Burst).

    However, this was still a good read, and very true in most cases. As well as the fact that it will be helpful to new Sega fans so they know what to expect.

    Most new Sega fans will come into PSO2 and they’ll pick up on a lot of the hate, we as users, hold towards Sega (and our lack of trust/etc).

    However they won’t understand why we feel this way, your article should be quite explanatory in that regard.

    I have forwarded your article to Jason Schreier of Kotaku as they’ve posted about PSO2 in the past, but haven’t posted anything about the delay/etc. I think it’d be good that more people know what to expect of Sega.

  13. I’ll just leave this Glassdoor.com review from a former director of SEGA of America here:
    http://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Employee-Review-SEGA-of-America-RVW1925006.htm

    “There are some great people within those overseas places yes, but there are also many failures, politicians and ineffective managers (managers, directors and VP’s) too. SOJ typically falls in line with what you’d expect of any Japanese company, essentially an organization that looks down on anyone who is not Japanese. Racism. There, I said it.”

    • ALL of those reviews are atrocious. Notice how at least two employees confirmed everything goes through SoE, one even calling it “weird”? I wonder why they functioned that way.

  14. Ok, i understand your point, PSO2 policies are no different from previous titles, however you icked the wrong subject to justify it.
    I know non japanese players get a different treatment, it can be related to game content, events, updates and so on. Problem here is that you along the registration process you accepted the fact that you would be playing on a japanese server and you knew from the start that a japanese server is not a global server.
    In a way Sega of japan kinda slapped ppl on the face, when it comes to numbers they advertise PSO2 as a success and that happens because the entire world is there, so no wonder why they have so much afluence, however they kinda forget to mention that a big part is due to non jp players, so yeah, they use you but they never acknowledge you.

    Back to my original tought, they said and you agreed that any non japanese player receives the right to be banned, if you want to play pso2, then wait for the correspondent server.

    My guess, you ingnored it, you went bersek and you bought stuff, but sega did see (indirectly) that you didn’t mind if you were banned, with that in mind they executed exactly what you wanted.

    I understand that to many ppl may be placing the fun of the game in question, the affluence may put a strain on the servers and if that happens they need to either upgrade hardware or to cut down on players, a nice and simple strategy is to get rid of the ppl that are outsiders, meaning that (as you may guess) the jp servers are for japanese players, there is nothing wrong with this policy.

    We have no idea on the difficulties they may have, certain features (may influence game quality) may be halt because that may put the strain on a “global server”

    Yes i understand, there are no other servers yet, they are falling behind with updates and content, guess what, it ain’t new.

    Yes, your point is valid and i agree with it, however this reason shows that despite your effort to play the game (3000 hours), you did not have time to read the terms and services.
    20 minutes was all it was required, but clearly that would interrupt your gamming session.

    Live and learn.

    • When I started playing there was no section prohibiting foreigners. And even now there is – read the part about estoppel.

      All of SEGA’s behavior in relation to foreigners may not be new, but because they’ve been doing it for a long time doesn’t make it anymore legitimate. If anything, it makes their position more deplorable.

    • But the Japanese versions always have more content and are always lightyears ahead of American versions. Japanese servers actually punish their hackers whereas American servers are left to fend for themselves. American versions are always watered down anyway without the full flavor of the original, sometimes even with completely different plots or stuff change not to offend western sensibilities. That last sentence applies to imported games in general but still.

    • “you went bersek and you bought stuff, but sega did see (indirectly) that you didn’t mind if you were banned, ” aside from your atrocious grammar and spelling (do you really want people to be able to understand what you said or not?), most ridiculous statement ever.

  15. This is exactly right. When or if the US/EU version ever comes out, we should be able to catch up to the JP game. Whether it takes a year, or a few weeks it isn’t fair what the US/EU puts up with, especially with the SEGA Support. Which also isn’t fair and is not right (I think maybe not legal I’m not sure) I’m pretty sure they did not send e-mails or notify every single player about the changes of ToS. Like saying in a e-mail ” Our ToS is changing, foreigners will not be aloud etc. etc. etc. Next time you log in the game it will mean you accept (or something along those lines)”. But, on the other side, whether they did or didn’t, us foreigners or most of us foreigners playing the game, by now should know that the ToS does not allow foreigners and it is bannable depending on what they decide. Back to what I was saying earlier, us foreigners going to play the US/EU should expect and know that we will most likey 99.9999% not get what the JP servers get. This is something SoA or SoE doesn’t necessarily understand that if it wasn’t because the game was fully in the language we speak, we wouldn’t be playing it and they would get no sales. Another point, Hackers are always going to be in any game. Doesn’t matter what country, race, language you speak, anything, it doesn’t matter. There are always going to be people that are going to want to either break rules, get more out of something, or even just screw around with people. It is inevitable and probably won’t stop until there is very strict rules or even laws on it because the laws and rules now are obviously not cutting it. I played PSU and I know what you are talking about when it is about support etc. I had a friend that had a Japanese Xbox and he had the Japanese version on the game so he was able to go back and forth between the two servers. He was barely on the English version because he said support and content was much better on the Japanese game. So, SEGA should think about their future with this Phantasy Star series when it comes to a Seperate English version. This has been I think long and I must rest my case because soon I will probably sound like a judge or something :P.

    Adam 🙂

  16. I was looking up info for the latest release date and saw this ‘open letter’. I’ll just say I’ve been there done that. The frustration and anger of having paid monthly subscriptions to an MMO I so dearly loved yet experiencing the unfair treatment of slow/non-existant content updates, lack of communication, or community safe keeping ban enforcement is something I remember to this day. Its been years and years as a SEGA fan and more specifically a Phantasy Star Online fan.

    Read this post from PSOW: http://www.pso-world.com/forums/showpost.php?p=2067254&postcount=146

    Thank goodness for that post. Its one of those things I remember, and now like your letter, it joins that part of my mind that still seeks some sort of closure from the abuse of being a SEGA fan. This may have sound wierd but just know that you aren’t the only one that became fed up, nor will you be the last I’m afraid.

    Anyone can say that you are foolish for having been positive and hopeful and believe that you would be treated with the dignity of being a loyal fan. I understand this letter, and we know that SEGA is within their rights to do whatever they want. Still doesn’t make it right on principle.

    Thanks for the letter. It will now be a lightning rod of which I use to ‘ground’ my anger, frustration, and disgust at SEGA and their betrayal.

  17. Sir I must say this has been a most edifying read, the simple truth has been there for ANYONE who invested any interest at all in the Phantasy star online series, the fact that the same shabby treatment HAS NOT CEASED IN OVER 20 YEARS! seems to be the best evidence that there’s a major degree of favoritism, prejudice, racist jerkmoves, etc, at play here.

    But what are we to do? they made a pair of fun games, PEOPLE WANT TO PLAY FUN GAMES! so you go ahead and deny a fanbase who in some cases are LITERALLY foaming at the mouth in anticipation, dedicated customer base for it?

    However can you blame them after how crappy PSU did in the states?…….HELL YES YOU CAN! no advertising AT ALL! no invested interest in even TRYING to market the game ANYWHERE outside the Japanese mainland, shabby and often times seemingly hostile neglect in server updates, content release and so forth, it was painfully obvious, but people played and payed ANYWAY! I know I did for the better part of almost 6 years with 4 in psu, and 2 in PSO, I met one of the best friend’s I could even IMAGINE finding on their game.

    But why the bad treatment? why intentionally aggravate loyal customers? and how F*CKING STUPID have people been to ALLOW them to keep doing this kind of crap?

    Stupid enough to want and hope for a means, a way, a sliver of hope at getting to play something fun, entertaining, and expansive, and getting to enjoy that with good friends, meet new one’s.

    SEGA I truly hope your listening somewhere, we WANT the game ANYWAY! were willing to go through incalculable levels of hell to make it happen, some even going so far as to learn your written language to enable themselves A CHANCE to play, and even wrote step by step guides detailing the process from getting the game, to every aspect of playing.

    THAT is what we call a Labor of Love, stupid, foolhardy, and a myriad of choice words that could indicate the foolishness against the long standing history Sega has displayed in it’s treatment of it’s customers since the genesis’s epic self destruction it seems.

    In any case, again I thank you sir, you brought forth an argument me and a number of friends have had since PSO, I cannot imagine the amount of hate I would have if they had done ANYTHING like this with PSU, I feel for you man, and wish ya the best of luck.

  18. Well i read you open letter and it very convincing since in never experince any of the problems since i don’t play that much the phantasy star series mush online since i play the portable versions of it more but seeing as there are more DLC content and exclusives on the Jap versions i some what with they made some exclusive content for the other regions to also i read about an article saying that there is a SEA sever coming soon but im not so sure if its true but heres the
    link: http://uk.gamespot.com/news/asiasoft-to-release-pso-2-and-dc-universe-online-in-southeast-asia-6409039

  19. SUE, Sue like a motherfucker!! region lock or not, fuck the bullshit. you put money in and they just took your shit without refunding or reimbursing you? sue sue sue

  20. I honestly can’t understand why things are this way myself. I’m also probably one of an EXTREMELY small minority… I’m actually from Japan, but spent the last 6 months in the US working as a consultant for an IT firm, and played regularly in my off time, that was, up until April. Someone decided to turn me in for connecting from outside Japan, and Sega looked into my recent logins and determined I was a foreigner, when it couldn’t be any further from the truth (I went to Jōnan, which is only a few km away). When I attempted to contact Sega and get my account reactivated, they told me all foreign accounts are deleted after being banned, as they violate the ToS, and that they would not lift a ban regardless.

    So yes, the fact that I’m natively Japanese meant nothing. The fact that I wanted to play the game on a laptop while I’m halfway around the globe meant nothing.

    • Wow. Really.
      When will the people in charge understand that we’re a global market and that country boundaries are slowly evaporating?
      The problem is that with the Internet and computer age, the world had became opened like it never was. While it’s natural to us—the younger generation— as we were born while it happened, the older one seems to not grasp it and stick with the old times of categorization and nationalistic views. Also, our law systems are written with the old world in mind. It poses a real problem. Like for example, if I sell a virtual good online to someone in another country, then what about the taxes? You need new laws and the old ones can’t break.

  21. To make a long story short, I actively played 1200+ hours and poured 700$ into the game only to be banned amongst the big April gaijin ban wave. I’m actually happy they are not releasing a North America version anytime soon as I have a lot on my plate in real life. While I was very very bitter and every day after I was banned seemed like a week’s worth of withdrawal, the sad truth is if they released a NA version I’ll probably play on that server.

  22. While I have never played any of the Phantasy Star series or any other SEGA game, I can completely understand, as I’ve tried on many different games to access the Japanese server. I simply wanted to learn Japanese faster through interactions with native Japanese players and talking to them while enjoying a game with them.

    Japan’s treatment of foreigners is just downright outrageous; When I tried playing one game that was accessible only in Japan, I politely asked through the game website message service to please allow me access to their server, while even writing in polite English and Japanese and clearly stating my reason for requesting access. I received a prompt reply 2 days later, but that’s beside the point.

    Their reply was basically an extremely polite way of saying “Get the hell off our server, and never come back.”

    I have never been more infuriated with this kind of treatment, as I have requested access to multiple foreign servers on multiple different games with exactly the same, if not higher amounts of politeness and have been granted access.

    As someone who has suffered through almost the same treatment, I commend your efforts through this open letter and throw my voice in with yours.

  23. Nice article. With this and some other research I’ve done, I don’t think SEGA will get any more of my money….ever.

  24. Its funny to look back upon my road through the Phantasy Star worlds playing mostly by PSP system playing Phantasy Star Portable 1 and 2. I highly enjoyed both games. Following blog updates for patches and DLC that never seemed to show up despite PSN offered a DLC box to check for content. Nothing ever was presented. After 6 to 8 months the box for DLC was removed from the PSN since no content was ever added, let alone any patches. I have been a fan of the game series from the PSP’s release and try to follow them even from other social media outlets. After reading this letter and other various posts I wonder if Sega has forgotten about Kingdom Conquest. I briefly logged into the IOS game and immediately delete after doing review searches on it such as this one ( http://www.nbcnews.com/id/43316701/ns/technology_and_science-security/t/sega-game-linked-theft-itunes-accounts#.Ufovd238-So ) or ( http://www.technewsdaily.com/6893-sega-game-linked-theft-itunes-accounts.html )
    After doing other reviews on the game to see the game per server/game zone was nearly 80% dominated by asian players to the read the alone itunes reviews for months of peoples itunes accounts were hacked, content in this game was purchased, then gifted to the asian players/guilds that dominated the servers. Many of the Itunes accounts that were hacked and these ingame purchases were made from American and European Accounts and there were indication of the items purchased sent to or gifted to the asian players/guilds. A fair amount never even downloaded the game to there devices themselves. So in Sega’s account to say that Pso’s Hackers are majority “foreign players” is odd seeing that on several of their other MMO’s Via pc/ios/ or other devices as well as any online game could have shown that its not specific country/ race/ nationality that is purely responsible for hacking. This happens in all MMOS and/or majority of online gaming regardless of genre. It reflects on the company of how fast they operate to find, fix/patch, and repair the damage done as opposed to blaming a “Foreign Community” for the problem. Me personally will wait to try out if they release an American release if not I will continue moving forward else where.

  25. Sega shouldn’t be allowed to release game anymore if they don’t plan to release to all parts of the world <.< i'm serious, not a single effing game they should be allowed to release or even think of making if they don't plan on letting the whole world take part of it, f u Sega just f u

  26. Too bad because I really loved the time I spent in pso2, I’ve even been thinking about using money to get premium but after reading this I feel like I don’t even want to spend my time on this game anymore. To be honest when it will released for the non-japanese people I won’t download the game. I will rather take my money, time and love some where else.

  27. I think it’s a shame that SEGA represents the Japanese people in such bad way. I do some consulting work for a company that’s owned by a Japanese corporation, and they have many people from Japan on staff there. All of them have been great, and we share a mutual respect for each other. We have great conversations, and there just good people. I hope to visit there one day, but if I do, I think i’ll avoid the SEGA building 😀

  28. yes i am just here to let you know that the day the hackers were taking credit for the work they had done me my fiancee and a ton of other people were in the same public lobby unknowing that it was being talked about. some japanese person submitted the log files and they had banned every single account from that og that was speaking english. after that i realized that even though it sucks i would need to wait for western release if one even comes. because ill be damned if i spend money and hours on a game like this to have some english troll report me because he doesnt like me and get me banned. not going to waste the time. its too bad you and other people are having to learn this after playing for so long. but yes i would be careful of even playing with english speaking characters for the simple fact that if you make someone angry they too even though they are an english player can report you too and get you banned.

  29. I never play PSO and i understand the anger at Sega and their not the only japanese game company that treat the western gamers and their fans like crap all these greedy bastards do is announce then release the game only in japan and here what piss me off the most if they do release a game outside of japan in the future they give the japanese version extra DLC and patches to make the game better and never release the western version (looking at you Koei).
    and another thing Sega is never bringing Yakuza5 to the west even though Yakuza1-4 and dead souls are release here it really piss me and alot of people and many more games never got release despite the games have a decent or big fanbase, we need to do something about the way how these japanese developers are behaving.

  30. Your article sums up how I felt when I started to realise that the Japanese gamers were getting all the phantasy star universe content while we were left with nothing I loved that game it took 6 years of my life all of my xbox live friend list w came from that game, my fondest memories of the console came from that came. But you know what mate what I find is that it was the friends that made the game sure the grinding was fun but ultimately I think the friends jokes and banter kept me there. Looking for a similar game over this side of the water would be difficult however I feel that bungles Destiny game will yield the same feeling phantasy star did for me all those years ago cept it’s a first person shooter ( westerns popular play style) in opposed to third person action(Japan s popular playstle).

  31. I know how it feels. I been a fan of Digimon almost all my life I Think. When I found out there was a Digimon online game I was extremely excited and wanted to play it. Unfortunately it was another 5 or 6 years before they gave us and American server to play. So like a lot of other fans who wanted to play we got help to make a account on the Japaneses servers and even modded the game so some of it was English and playable. Soon there where more English players then any other and the chat was flooded with English text. Most English speaking players got band for this reason alone. How ever I should point out that Namco Bandai are not the ones who run the game. A company by the name of Joymax or as the Players call them FailMax runs this game. I now play the American servers but I miss the Japaneses servers because not only was the drop rate a lot better the hatch rate, Exp and bit(Money) rate was higher as well. not only that but if your only form of paying for Cash shop items are Paypal you can only get shitty non tradable items. This may not be so bad depending on the item you buy if you get a Digimon you have to hatch it. The egg’s have a ranking system you can get a 3/5 4/5 and 5/5 the 5/5 is the best so I try to at less get 4/5 because 3/5 just sucks. I once got 10 egg at $3, normally $7 and hatched every one of them and got nothing but 3/5’s. Most of the Cash shop items need a lot of luck and I ended up quieting for about a year for that reason. I play again now but have yet to get anything from the cash shop.

  32. 3000 hours since the beta in December 2012 is roughly about 7.5 hours a day every day until now. While I don’t disagree with your sentiment, I’d just like to say that’s a lot of time spent playing PSO2.

  33. I’m probably sticking my neck out there, far enough to have my head easily lopped off into a basket, but I have to say, I agree with the writer. How SEGA Japan is treating its foreign fanbase is by no means acceptable. I loved PSU, I spent hours and hours on it every day for years. I spent the money on the subscription fee every month. I chose to play a more cartoonish more limited game over games with much better graphics and a much better community than the bunch of idiots on PSU acting like perverted children and trying to pick up “girls”. I invested well over hundreds of dollars in the game. But, its a game I enjoyed. It’s a game I have made a multitude of great memories on, and it’s a game that I made many good friends on, most of which I still keep in contact with. It’s also a game that no other could ever replace, to me, and a game that I would give almost anything to have back. It wasn’t the fact that SEGA took the game away from us that sits wrong with me, it’s more along the lines that sega took MY good memories away from me, OUR good memories away from us. Then they promise us hopes of better projects, better experiences, they promised us hopes of PSO2, flaunt it in our faces then tear it away again. That’s the problem I have with SEGA. Either release PSO2 to us, or revive PSU. Treating us this way isn’t right, isn’t moral, and is utterly disgraceful, just due to our race and location on this planet that WE ALL SHARE. I know profits wasn’t an issue. PSU almost compaired to other popular titles such as Final Fantasy XI. At any given time you could log onto PSU and there would be a couple thousand players on. Multiply that couple thousand by the subscription fee, here was $10, and you get a result of, I don’t think roughly $20,000+ isn’t considered profit, that on top of the actual fee to purchase the game, so whats the issue? We settled for your lack of caring about us SEGA, we settled for the poor support, the glitches, the lack of JP content, the poor GM’s you stuck us with (again puttin my neck out there but not many people liked GM Ruby). Yet we still gave our money, we still chose to play the gutter of a game you gave us compaired to your own nation’s players, we chose to make fond memories with our friends, and we are still the ones getting shafted, why?

  34. Sega is a terrible company these days. Its headed by assholes who don’t understand today’s market. So they don’t bother to try anymore.

    I honestly just wish people would stop feeding them money simply because “MUH VIDYA I LUB SO MUCH”

    It sucks we won’t get PSO2 But handing them ridiculous amounts of cash on the servers that you aren’t even really intended to be on is a huge mistake.

  35. i find it weird how bill gates making microsoft and all doesn’t impose a thought to their company, of ” LOOK WHAT IM DEVELOPING MY JP GAME ON” an american made operating system, it is weird how they already have en language in their game but it is locked, what was their point in putting it there? i have no idea, & 1 more thing that i take as an insult is they label things with english characters for example pso2, why wouldn’t they just go full jp, if sega saying english is ok there, english should be ok period, why would i make a jp game with jp characters if its not intended for jp people, their native language is jp, why the hell do they need all those eng characters & code eng. sega allows american influence but doesnt allow american influence? what the hell did i just write right?

  36. I’m still playing on ship 2. I haven’t invested nearly as much time and money as you have, but it’s really frustrating to hear your story. Sega is known for horrid business decisions and being unable to swallow their pride. The amount of money they could’ve made by simply embracing community translations and enabling foreigners to simply play the game (since it’s quite obvious any western release of this game, now being 2 years late, would be a disaster much like psu) is absolutely insane. No decent company would say no to money. Yet these guys do a great job at that. “Hey you’ve got tens of thousands of foreign players who want to give you money and translate your game better than you” “nah we don’t need DIRTY FOREIGNER MONEY”

    That’s all I see them as.

  37. For months I cannot access the game from either PC and PS Vita (Japanese PSN) from western U.S. I am taking this as a permanent region block and the U.S. release is still years away. When the U.S version gets its release, either the game will be in its end-life (JP service nearly close) or they’ll have a huge delay of months for international players.

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