First some minor news regarding the 4.21 update from Sony. Where this was once an optional update, now following the recent PlayStation Network (or SEN if you prefer) down time it is now a compulsory update for continued PSN/SEN access. Of course as this is a non key changing update spoofing systems will still function as expected so this is still trivial to bypass.
The other big news is after 6 years of region free games the PS3 is about to get its first region locked game. Persona 4 is a much awaited game from Atlus and on release will be locked to its respective geographic markets. The reasons for the change are still unclear but Atlus insist it should not be viewed as a precedent or slippery slope and that the region locking is for this title only.
Region free games have been another often overlooked selling point of the PS3 Console for almost six years.
Hopefully this will not encourage more developers to begin region locking future titles as in the long run this can only hurt the sales of new games for the platform.
Running custom firmware should mean that any future region locking could be bypassed but until anyone gets their hands on an actual release with the locking in it how this will be implemented is unknown.
Atlus have expanded on their reasons for region locking Persona 4 here is a small quote from their press release
For years, our fans have asked us to include dual language audio in our games. Finally, with P4 Arena, we were able to deliver on that desire and include the exact same content as the Japanese release for our North American fans. Moreover, our North American community is often forced to wait months for a localized release (a plight our friends across the Atlantic can relate to). Again, with P4 Arena, we’re able to release within two weeks of Japan.
The unforeseen consequence in all of this was that we had a version of our biggest game of the year releasing within a couple weeks in two territories, both identical in content, but at radically different price points. Importing, as great as it is for gamers who otherwise can’t get access to a title, can also cannibalize the performance of a title in one territory to the benefit of another.
So there you have it its a pricing issue with this game. Looks like more will follow from other game developers. As to how hard this will be to bypass only time will tell but some people are already speculating that it could be as simple as a quick SFO edit.