Phantasy Star Online | Feature Image

Phantasy Star Online 2 | Yuya Kimura Photograph

One of the most venerable SEGA titles, Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis, is on the cusp of releasing a major new update to the game in just a few days. With new content ranging from being able to create your own personalized spaces, new outfits, and even cel shading graphics, Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis ver.2 is bringing quite a bit of new content to this online game.

I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to conduct an email interview with Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis’ series producer, Yuya Kimura, about a variety of topics ranging from the path to bringing PSO2 to North America, the collaboration process with other IPs, about the content coming in the upcoming ver.2 update, and more.

You can check out the latest on Phantasy Star Online 2 at the official website, on Twitter, on Twitch, on Facebook, on Instagram, on YouTube, and on Discord.

Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis ver.2 is being released on June 7, 2023!

This interview has been edited for content and clarity.

Operation Rainfall: Could you please introduce yourself?   

Yuya Kimura: My name is Yuya Kimura. This year marks my 21st year working at SEGA. I’ve been involved with the Phantasy Star series ever since joining the company. I planned and launched PSO2, and served as its director until the service began. Afterwards, I oversaw the development and operation of PSO2 as the series director for around nine years, and I am currently the series producer for PSO2 New Genesis.

OR: Do you play Phantasy Star 2 Online New Genesis in your spare time? If so, can you tell us a little bit about what your gameplay experience is like? What do you like to play or do for fun outside of PSO2 NGS?

YK: I would rather keep the focus on the team and the game instead of my own personal play style.

OR: You were the Quest Director and one of the scenario writers for Phantasy Star Universe and its expansion, Phantasy Star Universe: Ambition of the Illuminus that was released between 2006 and 2007, and for which online service ended in 2012.

The main protagonist, Ethan Weber, a GUARDIAN named Karen Erra, the PSU theme song “Save This World”, and other callbacks appeared for a limited time in Phantasy Star Online 2 in 2016 for PSU‘s 10th anniversary. What was it like revisiting these characters and Phantasy Star Universe‘s music as a series producer for the 10th anniversary event when you had originally helped to shape PSU and these character’s stories back in 2016?           

YK: As I joined the Phantasy Star Online Episode 1 & 2 team during its operational phase, Phantasy Star Universe (PSU) is the first title in the Phantasy Star series that I was able to join in the initial development phases, before the service began. This makes it one of the more memorable games in the series for me.

I wanted to implement content from PSU in PSO2 as a collaboration with myself, as I was serving as the series director at the time. I was in charge of designing which characters and content would be implemented, as well as creating NPC characters such as Ethan and Karen.

Over time graphics have evolved greatly since PSU, so I was really happy to have Ethan and Karen appear on game screens once more, and I was deeply moved by reactions for players who enjoyed the nostalgic feeling of that time.

“Player feedback and opinions are collected through posts to official support channels and comments on various social media platforms.


During weekly meetings, the team of directors and I discuss and decide on the responses and methods regarding these matters.”

OR: One of the unique aspects of Phantasy Star Online 2 and Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis is that the game frequently had crossover events with various intellectual properties that are owned by SEGA (such as Persona and Project DIVA) and non-Sega titles such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and FINAL FANTASY XIV Online.

Can you talk about how SEGA and non-SEGA collaboration events are developed to keep these events true to their original franchise roots while integrating them into Phantasy Star Online 2 and subsequently in Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis? How do you go about deciding which IPs to include within the game, and how involved are the IP owners/developers in co-developing or signing off on the crossover content?

YK: In deciding which IP to collaborate with, we consider IP that have a high affinity with the PSO2 series and its players. Most of the time we will propose the project to the IP that we wish to collaborate with. For mutual collaborations, sometimes we get the offer from the other party and then we launch the project. Once we’ve decided to move forward with the collaboration, we create a detailed plan for the content to be distributed and supervise it. We also have the created content supervised in detail before it’s distributed, including the detailed text level and the content of the announcements beforehand.

OR: Phantasy Star Online 2 was originally released in Japan back in July 2012, and a Western release was only announced at Microsoft E3 2019 Press Conference. Can you talk about the lengthy delay in bringing Phantasy Star Online 2 to the Western audiences, and what the internal decision process was like that led to the ultimate decision to bring the game over? Did you ever consider not releasing the game for Western audiences?

YK: Actually, for a time we had considered expanding into the North American and European regions immediately after the release of the Japanese version. But, at the time, we were unable to establish an operations system outside of Japan, and after the Japanese version was released, we found that the development and operation was far more difficult than we’d imagined. So, we ended up putting it on hold. Afterwards, we established a cooperative system with management companies in each Asian region and launched the service in 2014, but we were still out of our depth, so unfortunately the service ended after about three years.

Development of the overseas version stagnated once again after the Asian service ended. But when it was decided that development of NGS would move forward, and that the service would be offered simultaneously in both Japan as well as globally, we decided to launch PSO2 in North America in April 2020, and afterwards launched the game globally in August.

Phantasy Star Online | Collaboration with Gravity Rush.
Phantasy Star Online 2 collaboration content has appeared in titles such as Gravity Rush 2 for costume and item packs as well. (Image owned by Sony).

OR: One of the hallmarks of Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis is the various types of Scratch Tickets where you can win various fashion, hairstyles, and more from. Can you talk about how you design and develop the various items that are constantly being added in the game that players can win through Scratch tickets?

YK: Primarily, I, as the producer, along with the item director and game designer, create content plans and communicate them with the art team. The art team then refines the details while consulting with the planners about concepts and decides who will be responsible for creating the design based on the plan. The design work may be done by internal or external staff.

Initially, three rough design proposals are presented and discussed with the art director and planners to narrow it down to one proposal, which is then used as a basis for the finalized drawing.

Once the drawing is finalized, the items director determines color changes and decoration specifications, and puts in a request to the modeler to create the item. The art team and item department director supervise the completed model, make final adjustments, and then finalize it.

For outfits, it takes approximately 8 to 10 months from the planning stage to release.

“In August we plan to release end content quests that will have a significant amount of random elements, designed for party play, and will encourage multiple attempts.”

OR: The new Slayer class, which uses a Gunblade weapon, was just released in Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis in April 2023. Can you talk about the class, and what it was like developing it? What has the player response to the Slayer class been like so far, and how do YOU personally feel about it?

YK: This class has been designed for skilled players who can fully utilize the technical controls and can combo their attacks to unleash even stronger attacks. Not only does it incorporate elements such as switching Photon Arts and multiple counters, but it also makes the movement and Active Skills of the Photon Arts themselves easy to understand, so we hope that many players will give it a try.

Since its release, we’ve received a lot of positive feedback from many players about how satisfying the action is. I’m very happy to hear that.

Phantasy Star Online | Slayer Class in Action
Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis’ newest class, Slayer, utilizes Photon Arts and gunblade weapons to take down enemies. (Images owned by SEGA).

Phantasy Star Online | Slayer Class in Action

OR: What can you tell us generally about the new Ultra Evolution update? Why did you decide to title it Ultra Evolution?        

YK: Ultra Evolution was a temporary name. The official name at launch will be PSO2 New Genesis ver.2, so I will skip this question.

OR: One of the biggest changes in the [PSO2 New Genesis ver.2] update is the upcoming Creative Space and Connect System. Can you talk about what Creative Space is, including about what are Genesis Points, and how the Connect System will encourage social gameplay?

YK: The Creative Space is a crafting zone that gives our players a high degree of creative expression. Players can freely combine Build Parts such as building materials and furniture to create houses and buildings, and edit the terrain to create beautiful landscapes.

Genesis Points are a new in-game point system, obtained by using the Creative Space and playing its related tasks. Players can use these points to purchase Build Parts and items that would be useful in battle, such as Capsules.

The Connect System is a feature that links the parts that have been arranged in the Creative Space. Using this system, players can create their own obstacle courses and mini-games. In this way, players can create their own gameplay experiences and share them with others, enabling a truly creative and social playstyle unique to NGS.

PSO2 | Creative Space
With the new Creative Space content, players can create and customize their own personalized areas in Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis! (Images courtesy of SEGA).

PSO2 | Creative Space

OR: There is a new enemy type coming in the [PSO2 New Genesis ver.2] update. Can you tell us about it, and how the development team created a new type of enemy that was not merely a retread of prior content in the game?

YK: The new enemy race is called “Starless”. To create more challenging battle content after the major update, we have designed them to be clearly superior entities compared to the previous enemies, such as the DOLLS.

Following the update, they will appear in the open field, but some Starless enemies will specifically appear as targets to be defeated in future high-difficulty content.

OR: You’re also introducing cel shading [in] the [PSO2 New Genesis ver.2] update. Where did the idea to introduce these alternate graphics scheme come from, and how is it being implemented into the game? Will players still be able to use the classic graphical style?

The character creation system evolved greatly from PS02 in NGS. As we were considering how to further advance and evolve the system and that’s when we began considering cel shading implementation. Generally speaking, games that use cel shading had planned for that from the start, so they create dedicated game systems and assets for it. Since we’d be introducing this later on in NGS, honestly I felt that implementing cel shading would be impossible, so I asked the lead development staff at the time to experiment with it while expecting that it wouldn’t be possible. However, the dev team researched it over a long period of time while also working on their normal dev duties, and at some point made a presentation of their experiment results. After that, we decided to introduce it together with ver.2.

Cel shading is an optional function, so you can toggle it on or off at any time in the Salon.

Phantasy Star Online | Cel Shading
Cel Shading is being introduced in Phantasy Star Online New Gensis ver.2 update! (Image owned by SEGA).

OR: In the NGS Headline video, dated April 25, 2023, you discussed how Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis is managed: the PR/management staff are in charge of relaying new information to players, and the developers and yourself “focus on game development and keeping up to speed on the reactions and opinions of players.” You also discussed how you had originally intended to deliver regions, weapons, and classes at a quicker pace with the launch of PSO2 NGS than what ultimately happened.

Can you talk about how you gather those reactions and opinions of players to analyze? Is there a specific feature players have asked for that stood out the most for you? How do you balance integrating what players want in the game with the development timeline that you already have planned out?

YK: Player feedback and opinions are collected through posts to official support channels and comments on various social media platforms. Dedicated staff, including Hiro Arai, compile and summarize this feedback. The development team also checks posts and social media daily to gather relevant reactions and opinions for consideration. During weekly meetings, the team of directors and I discuss and decide on the responses and methods regarding these matters. We also review the progress of implementing improvements and adjustments that were previously decided upon. For cases where progress has been made in terms of addressing certain issues, we may consult with Hiro and the operations staff to inform users about the direction through the Headline program or on Twitter, and sometimes Hiro himself checks on the progress.

However, the speed at which improvements and adjustments are actually reflected in the game varies and cannot be generalized. It depends on the complexity and urgency of implementation. Simple changes can be reflected within two or three months, while more challenging ones may take six months or more. Furthermore, since these developments were not originally planned, we have to decide whether to prioritize them based on how urgent the changes are, which may lead to delaying or reducing our original development plans. Generally, we develop content that will be released six months to over a year in advance. If it’s something that’s difficult to do but not very urgent, even if we have accepted the requests or opinions, it may take a year and a half to two years or more for them to be implemented.

OR: What updates for endgame content, not including for fashion, are coming in [PSO2 New Genesis ver.2]?

In August we plan to release end content quests that will have a significant amount of random elements, designed for party play, and will encourage multiple attempts. At the same time, we are also planning to release ultra-difficult quests geared towards party play, such as the Duel Quests that are available now, that features one very powerful boss fight.

“Even though it’s already been two years since NGS was released, compared to other online games, NGS has been designed to make it easy to catch up to players, even if you’re new.”

OR: The ARKS Ship Casino has yet to make an appearance in Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis. Is that a feature that players can expect to eventually return?

YK: We do not have any plans to implement the PSO2 Casino in NGS. Even if we were to transfer it over into NGS as-is with very minimal changes to the functionality, making it playable in NGS would be far more difficult and time-consuming than players might expect. As the Casino is still playable in the PSO2 blocks, rather than try to transfer over an experience that already exists, we’d like to focus on implementing new and unique gameplay experiences.

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OR: To someone who hasn’t played Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis before and is thinking about starting the game with the upcoming [PSO2 New Genesis ver.2] update, what do you have to say to them?

YK: Even though it’s already been two years since NGS was released, compared to other online games, NGS has been designed to make it easy to catch up to players, even if you’re new.

Also, the centerpiece of NGS ver.2 is the Creative Space, which can be played after clearing the tutorial and the prologue, which should take less than an hour. As such, I believe that ver.2 is a great opportunity for players to give the game a try.

I want to thank SEGA for helping to set up this email interview!

Are you excited for the ver.2 update? What kind of Creative Space do you want to create?

Let us know in the comments below!

Quentin H.
I have been a journalist for oprainfall since 2015, and I have loved every moment of it.