So for today's shocking, but everyone saw it coming announcement, Phantasy Star Universe will be closing down it's PC/PS2 servers. Due to low population, SEGA has decided to shift focus to the XBOX servers. The XBOX servers although dwindling in players, still has quite a grip on it's population. It's expected that the XBOX servers will continue to receive updates including the AOTI+ Supplemental Update. Though the announcement did not specifically say this. Edward posted a message on the official site, quote:
Please note that after January 29th 2010, no new PSU subscriptions will be available for purchase for PC/PS2. Those who are subscribed as of that time will be able to play, for free, until service closure.
The schedule is as follows:
• January 29th 2010: MAG+ event begins for PC/PS2 and Xbox 360 servers.
• January 29th 2010: No new PC/PS2 PSU subscriptions will be available for purchase.
• January 29th 2010: Free play for PC/PS2 PSU begins. No more billing cycles will take place on or after this date.
• March 31st 2010: PC/PS2 servers / service closure, the PlayStation2 and PC versions of Phantasy Star Universe online play will not be available after this date, however, please continue to enjoy the Single Player version of the game.
For those who play the Xbox 360 version of Phantasy Star Universe: SEGA will continue to support, in full & with regular updates, this version of Phantasy Star Universe. This includes bringing currently unreleased and anticipated content to the XBox 360 servers. We will be able to provide more details on future Xbox 360 PSU content over the coming weeks and months.
Son in essence PSU Pc/Ps2 servers will be free for January 29th to March 31st, which I guess will allow everyone to say their goodbyes before they leave. What's interesting to note is what Edward says next..
While we are sad to see the PC/PS2 version of Phantasy Star Universe end, the year 2010 is the 10th anniversary of Phantasy Star Online — and this server / service closure is helping to pave the way for bigger and better things for the Phantasy Star franchise in the very near future!
Sakai also shared a somewhat similar statement during his New Year's message. We should continue to see things from the Phantasy Star Series in 2010, considering it's the 10th anniversary of Phantasy Star Online. Does this mean a new flagship title Phantasy Star will be announced? Does this mean PSPo2 will soon get an announcement for the English release? We'll just have to wait and see.
Where do we go from here?
There aren't many games out there like Phantasy Star Online. Fortunately, the market for non-targeting, action RPG systems are slowly rising out of Korea and China.
For now most MMOs focus less on action and more on strategic gameplay. This is where a player clicks on an enemy and engages in auto combat. The player may press a sequence of buttons to use various skills. In these MMOs you never see characters roll out of the way, strafe behind the enemy, shoot and run away from a distance. You are pretty much "attached" to an enemy during the entire combat.
Whatever Sega plans to do with the Phantasy Star series, we do at least have some hope for other games that follow in it's footsteps. Here are a few games coming soon for the PC that provide an action oriented, non targetting system.
- Continent of the 9th
- Offers a more graphically realistic approach to PSU.
- Follows in PSU's footsteps with instanced like gameplay.
- Battle animation tends to be flashy and mimics PSU's style.
- Limited Character races.
- TERA Online
- Beautiful graphics, serene visuals, open world gameplay.
- Players aim their attacks at enemies.
- Character Classes/Races similar to PSU.
- Dragon Nest
- Instanced gameplay.
- Gameplay feels ripped out of PSZero
Of course if you are on the handheld market, you can still play Phantasy Star Zero and look forward to Phantasy Star Portable 2, if and when it does come out.
What will Sakai do next?
Shougai PSO posted a quote from Dengeki Magazine regarding an interview about PSO10th Anniversary. In it he says, given that last year's Phantasy Star Portable 2, is seen as the compilation of the series. The next new thing he wants to do is something incredibly challenging that is "a giant leap", [possibly something extremely different than what we'd expect /something that upgrades the series?] however, he still wants to please the traditional fans.
Ana has blogged her reactions on the current news, also speculates there might be some new Phantasy Star game in development. Kotaku comments section (view the unpromoted comments) has more reactions. Other player reactions will be posted here.