Nintendo's hesitancy to fully endorse online play for its GameCube console has raised the possibility of Phantasy Star Online not featuring internet play for that console. At a press conference in London last week, Yuji Naka, president of Sonic Team, conceded this may come to pass, expressing hope that, "the GameCube version will [release] at the same time in all countries, although it really depends on when Nintendo is going to launch its online services." Naka went on to say that "There are other technical problems as well, but that's what I'm aiming for. PSO is designed to be an online game, although there is a chance the game will come out before online [play through a Gamecube] is ready."
Naka then tried to reassure players that the game would still feature the same basic gameplay, noting the GameCube will feature a four-player split screen mode, which would allow for multiplayer action without online service. He also indicated he is making every effort to encourage Nintendo to release the modem in time to coincide with PSO's release.
That said, Nintendo isn't necessarily Naka's only problem; Microsoft has yet to explicitly confirm Xbox support for PSO's online aspect. J. Allard, Xbox's global chief, did say that six online games would be available by the end of the year (in Europe), one of which would be PSO. That said, Naka has not been appraised of the software giant's actual plans: "Microsoft has not been very clear about when it wants to do the online service for XBox, or what will be involved in it, so it's very hard to tell what new elements there will be in the game," he admitted. "It really depends on what sort of timing Microsoft is talking about. The longer we have, as we had with Gamecube, the more extra things we can put in it. It depends what Microsoft wants to do."
There was still no indication from Naka whether or not Sonic Team would be releasing a sequel to PSO any time soon. "We're treating the GameCube version of PSO as a sequel anyway, as there's been so much added to it," he said. "Although I have no particular plans for the next one, I hope people can enjoy this one first, and maybe wait for the next one later."
This one, as Naka calls it, is currently slated for release on the GameCube sometime this month, although that seems less than likely. An Xbox date has yet to be confirmed.