NISA has ordered popular Trails fan translation site Zerofield to remove all of its work from the site, effectively shutting it down. The site's owners have confirmed that NISA doesn't intend to negotiate with them and that they must take down all of their translation sheets.
Why has NISA forced Zerofield to shut down?
This news comes via Zerofield translator Kitsune on Twitter. Yesterday, they tweeted that NISA had "notified [them] about perceived copyright infringements" on the Zerofield website and had requested that they stop their work. Zerofield took down their sheets and website, awaiting further communication from NISA on the issue.
Unfortunately, that further communication came a few hours later, and it wasn't good news for Zerofield. After Kitsune's announcement, fellow translator Corey "Millium Man" Corey subsequently tweeted that NISA "isn't willing to negotiate" with Zerofield, and that the site was required to take down all of its translations, including work it was doing on Trails from Zero and the Japanese-only The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki.
Zerofield's COG Gear Omega further confirmed that this is the end of Zerofield, at least as a Trails fan translation platform. They say that they're also not aware of any truth to the rumors that NISA has offered to purchase or appropriate Zerofield's work, and they ask fans not to spread those rumors as well. COG Gear Omega says Zerofield might return without its translations in the future, too, so this might not be the end for the site.
This announcement comes at a time when Zerofield was apparently gearing up to announce a translation sheet for Kuro no Kiseki 2, which obviously won't be happening now. Corey "Millium Man" Corey says they hope anyone who sticks around will appreciate what they do next, and that the appreciation fans have shown to Zerofield "means the world" to them.
Fan translations are a big part of the Trails community, and NISA knows it
This news might come as a shock to anyone who's a big fan of the Trails games, not least because NISA has worked with fan translations for official localizations of the series before. Fan groups like Geofront are hard at work translating games from the Trails series, as well as early Nihon Falcom titles, and their work is a pretty big part of game preservation, especially given what many fans perceive to be NISA's glacial pace in officially localizing Trails games.
On the one hand, this all but confirms that NISA has plans to bring The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki to the West at some point. NISA isn't the Japanese publisher for Kuro (series developer Falcom handles that), so there's no reason for the company to step in unless they've licensed the rights to the game. Sadly, this also means that anyone who was hoping to play an English version of the game soon is likely to be disappointed.
It's a real shame, because fan translations are the backbone of many gaming communities. Not long ago, a historic dating sim worked on by legendary Japanese developers got its first fan translation, and curios like the PSP Suikoden title and Shin Megami Tensei If... are only playable in English thanks to fan translations as well. Of course, there's also the case of Mother 3, which Nintendo still won't release in the West and which is still only playable thanks to diligent work by fan translators. We've reached out to NISA for comment on this story.