News Article

Nintendo Confirms 3DS Will Be Region-Locked

Posted by Trevor Chan

To what extent?

Back at E3 2010, Nintendo revealed that the decision on whether the 3DS will be region-locked hadn't been made yet, and just earlier this month, an alleged portion of a Nintendo support email spoke of "region codes" being built into the 3DS system and its games. Ahead of Nintendo's dual 3DS conference tomorrow, the company spoke to VG247 on the potential implementation of region-locking and it might be disappointing for some.

The decision to apply region-locking to the 3DS was based on several factors:

Nintendo 3DS hardware is available in three versions: Japanese, American and European/Australian... Nintendo has developed different versions of Nintendo 3DS hardware to take into account different languages, age rating requirements and parental control functionality as well as to ensure compliance with local laws in each region. Nintendo 3DS also offers network services specifically tailored for each region.

With games only working on 3DS systems that were bought from the same region, Nintendo is keen to prevent consumers from buying products that might not work together. Hardware and software packaging will come with handy guidance, warning customers about the region-locking:

Additionally we want to ensure the best possible gaming experience for our users and there is the possibility that Nintendo 3DS software sold in one region will not function properly when running on Nintendo 3DS hardware sold in another. Guidance will appear on every packaging of Nintendo 3DS hardware and the accompanying software. If you are in doubt, Nintendo recommends that you only purchase Nintendo 3DS software in the region where purchased your Nintendo 3DS system.

It's interesting to note that within Nintendo's statement, the company refers to the possibility that software from one region will not work on hardware from another, and the last sentence in the quote almost suggests that consumers have some kind of choice where applicable. Could it even be the responsibility of publishers? Maybe Nintendo will clarify in more depth tomorrow during the 3DS conferences. To keep up to date on the announcements, be sure to follow our live feed.


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User Comments (71)



Hokori said:

I hope its just the online store I wanna import ouendan 3D if it comes out



Expa0 said:

I wonder how many great games I will be missing because of this...



andyutd97 said:

Damn My Uncle Graham Was gonna get me a game from America
Ah well he will have to buy it in the UK now



NintyMan said:

This is a non-issue for me, but it is to others. This "possibility" might not strike it down for them, though.



Megumi said:

I'm going with Irken with this one, lol.Besides, would be kinda hard to play Japanese games...when you can't read Japanese. xD



SuperSonic said:

I wouldn't make a difference to me. I'm legal. I just can't freaking wait for tomorrow!



theblackdragon said:

@LEGEND MARIOID: considering the DSi is also region-locked, yet plays out-of-region DS carts just fine, there's no reason to assume the 3DS won't play out-of-region DS carts as well. :3



Megumi said:

@Trevor: ....Wait, so if I bought a game from Japan then it could be in English or something then? Never imported anything, so...I dunno, lol.



Stine said:

Sucks that I can't buy from NA, but oh well. As long as I can import the DS games I want.



Betagam7 said:

Way to defy the point of portability Nintendo. Some of us like to travel with our portable systems and that includes moving between regions.
I suppose at least with the 3DS we don't have to worry about ropey PAL conversions...or do we?



Megumi said:

...Well with RPGs, I like to read the story of the game...otherwise, its kinda...well, I dunno...but yeah, lol



Bankai said:

Like I said before when this was just a rumour:

Now I need to buy two of these.

Nintendo, you're really lucky you make good products, because your business attitude is pathetic.



komicturtle said:

Well, Pokemon Black and White are region-locked if played on DSi and 3DS. That's the only 'DS' game I know of that is (excluding DSi only Retail games).

Region Locking doesn't and won't ever affect me. Sure, it may suck that I won't EVER to be able to play some great games, but even then, I probably wouldn't import it in the first place (Like Shonen among other Japan exclusives).

No need to 'expand' the situation, really. :/

But I do feel bad for those who love importing. Hoping a for a homebrew app on 3DS could help but that's probably not going to happen as there isn't even DSi Homebrew because of the 'complex' security on that system.



cnm_nintendo said:

D: Will this affect StreetPass too? So if I travel to another country like America or Japan, StreetPass communications won't work as the "hardware" is different? If StreetPass is limited to regions also then that just sucks. _



Mange said:

Whoever that wants that special import game wont bother import it, he will use some sort of hacking device and download the game, free. Making stuff easier to get legally, will only benefit sales. Sure they might need to release different versions of the console due to whatever technical reason, but locking out certain games in 2011 is just stupid. I don´t mind not realeasing all games everywhere, but don´t lock out import gamers. I believe those "hardcore" gamers are the first to "unlock" their consoles.



Bankai said:

Let's not forget that this will affect the price of games. When there's less competition (from online overseas shops) then prices will go up. Simple fact of retail economy.

Perhaps not so much in the US, but if you're in Europe/ Australia, and you think "oh I don't import from the US/ Japan, so this doesn't affect me!" then you're thinking very narrow-mindedly. It will affect you.



HeroOfTime007 said:

@ 16Because everyone buys games when they go to other places, especially one which the majority of wich will release in their home country.

@31. Or maybe the software will be more secure and the few "hardcore" gamers will pony up and buy another 3DS, and therefore Nintendo makes more money. Also I dont see how weeaboos and such who want to play some obscure and archaic JRPG or hentai game will be "hackers", or whatever. The majority of "hackers" are in China, but its not like that matters, lest developers will have to hand their game and engine codes over to China.



Chris720 said:

Well that sucks... what is the point in region-locking a PORTABLE console? I can understand for a home console... but when I go on holiday, to say, America I take my DS with me, and I'll buy games on holiday.

But region-locking it is taking out the portability part of the 3DS here. If StreetPass is region-locked too, then it'll be pointless leaving it on while on holiday.

I am really weighing down on not buying the 3DS now... Personally... region-locking is like parental controls, they both put stupid restrictions on you and are a pain in the ... and they can both go to hell.



astarisborn94 said:

Nintendo should expect rampant piracy for the Nintendo 3DS due to this news. If the company was honestly expecting region-locking to benefit anyone, they are going to be in for one heck of a rude awakening. If Streetpass gets hacked and the experience becomes severely hampered, this will certainly be to blame.



Kelvin said:

Boo! I had thought that the industry would have grown out of this by now. Sigh.



kurtasbestos said:

FuzzyYellowBalls probably has the best argument against region-locking, and it's something I can relate to, though we definitely represent a minority. Later this year I'll be moving to Japan permanently. I speak the language just fine, and can read it reasonably well, but playing a game in Japanese is time-consuming and gets boring really quickly. I'm still really excited about the 3DS, but now I have to choose between buying a Japanese 3DS where I'll be paying a lot more money for the system and the games and risk losing interest in them before I get my money's worth, or having to find some way to import all the games I want to play from the US. I guess that after tomorrow I'll probably have enough information to make a decision.



Alfred_ENG said:

I will never buy a PAL Nintendo console/handheld again. I am not paying £200-£300 a for handheld plus rip off priced PAL (20% VAT) games (Which were released in Japan and America first). I think i am finished with Nintendo for good.
If Nintendo make a new F-Zero. I may come back. )



Bankai said:

Chibi, give it up, man. The 3DS in Australia will play UK and European games. Just like the Wii can.



edhe said:

Region Locking hasn't affected me past Ouendan & several NA GBA games (incl. Fire Emblem 2), but I would still have liked the freedom of buying foreign games to play on my 3DS.

If another Ouendan turns up, you can bet your bottom dollar the West won't be seeing it. Coincidentally, I don't speak a word of Japanese, but am still able to enjoy playing Ouendan, and sometimes ignorance makes it even funnier.

And then there's the games that see a release in North America, but not Europe. They include (with their scores out of ten in brackets):

Chibi Robot (9)
Contra 4 (9)
Starfy (9)
Nostalgia (9)
Lufia (9)
Peggle (8)
Retro Game Challenge (8)
Sands of Destruction (8)
And many more. (Including every Atlus published game)

But at least I can import them. On the other side of the coin, American DS owners were denied the Tingle game, but at least they were able to import the game (and buy out all our limited stock - curses!)

This is a pretty annoying prospect for gamers (which is even worse when you look at Australia and New Zealand, whose games are filtered even further), but we live in hope that they'll actually do something to counter the imbalance and discrepencies between the shops, but - on the other hand - we could be in for another few years of painful release schedules.

And there's noting we can do about it other than buy another extremely expensive handheld console for each region.

Piracy and hacking won't be an option for me - I don't want to risk turning my 3DS into a £300 brick.



Ernest_The_Crab said:

Well in a way, I suppose they are correct. Monster Hunter Tri (on the Wii) for example had different methods of handling the online portion of the game.



Pj1 said:

Not the best news I've heard all day but the annoucements on Wednesday will make up for this hopefully........

I won't buy one untill Christmas 2011, Maybe.



HolyMackerel said:

@34 HeroOfTime007 First of all, Nintendo (yes, even NoJ) will never publish hentai games. Period. Getting involved in the seedy side of things would ruin their mass market family-friendly reputation forever.

Secondly, if you think import gamers are only wapanese losers who play "archaic" JRPGs then you really have narrow-minded misconceptions about gaming everywhere. So much of gaming as a whole has come from Japan and they continue to deliver excellent products. As an old example, you do know that the real Super Mario Bros. 2 never had a western release until NoA luckily decided to include it in Super Mario All-Stars, right? Then, like @edhe said, there are the poor, poor EU/AU gamers who are quite severely handicapped unless they can import NA titles.

Thirdly, yes, if hackers open the 3DS to be region-free then import gamers will jump on board with that and potentially just start pirating games for free instead of importing. It just gives people one more reason (and a legitimate one) to hack their 3DS. This is a stupid move by Nintendo.



GC-161 said:

@FuzzyYellowBalls You do realize that your situation is extremely unique?

Like most Americans, I also have no beef with this region-locked issue. I've been gaming since the NES era. And it has never been an issue for me worth complaining about.

I guess it's one of the perks of living in the #1 market for videogames.



RedYoshi999 said:

To me it sounds like they're gonna lock out European games from playing on an Australian 3DS like they locked out Europe from the DSi Shop so you were stuck with just the Australian and New Zealand Shop. If they do this I will hate them. I bought 5 DS games in the UK when I was there and if I couldnt do that with the 3DS I would be very annoyed. Then I would be stuck with paying for way too overpriced Australian 3DS games (which are likely to cost more than DS games) And if I imported a 3DS I would have to import every game I buy. But hopefully I'm just getting ahead of myself and Nintendo will do the smart thing.



Megumi said:

@52: Yeah, now I'm wanting to hear more reasons why this system sucks, lol



Token_Girl said:

I'm guessing all 3DS games will be region locked. The reason they have to say import games "probably" won't work is because of the DS back catalog that has no region coding. Any non-DSi enhanced DS titles should work on the 3DS.

This sucks for importers, but it's really less of an issue now that the UK and NA get most of the same releases (Australians will probably have to import a fair amount of titles from the UK, unfortunately). Those who love Japanese exclusives...that sucks, but it's nothing you're not doing already on consoles. It just seems weird that Nintendo is adding region coding while Sony is going the opposite direction.

I'm absolutely certain this will get cracked for those willing to use homebrew. I doubt anyone cared to try to hack the DSi, since you can do pretty much everything a hacked DSi could do on a hacked DS Lite. The 3DS is a different story though. The hackers will be working quickly on it.



alLabouTandroiD said:

I think this is a decision against the hardcore market and for "casuals" that wouldn't understand why a Japanese / American / European game's online mode doesn't work well in their region and so on. Maybe it's a decision for higher game prices and sales of more handhelds too.
The effect is that i won't buy these games then. The only matter is that they won't mind because importers are too small of a group to really make a (financial) difference.
And as someone stated before (kudos to you for doing so) if Nintendo-games weren't so unique, varied, different and just good it'd be a easy task changing to Sony or Microsoft preference.

And as edhe pointed out before there are quite a few DS games that were really worth importing for us Euro-guys:

Chibi Robo (9)
Contra 4 (9)
Starfy (9)
Nostalgia (9)
Lufia (9)
Peggle (8)
Retro Game Challenge (8)
Sands of Destruction (8)
Trauma Center 2
Rocket Slime
Ouendan games
Taiko Drum Master
Jump Superstars



Capt_N said:

I've always said this in these situations:

A virus writer writes up malicious code. An anti-virus code is written to counter the virus. So, the virus writers counter-attack the anti-virus code, by altering the code of their original virus, &/or making up new viruses. Then, the anti-virus writers also counter-attack the newer code. Since, it's all 1's/0's, it's always possible for the other person/group/whatever to attack, & no one/neither side can ever fully gain attack-proof ground.

Game systems are not different. Like all electronics, & pcs, The 3DS will eventually be hacked to some degree, @ the very least.

Even if N is really considering the issues they mentioned for implementing region-locks, I have a pretty good feeling that their main priority in region-locking is for price control.

I wonder though, how people will approach 3DS homebrew, until there is a hack that is widely know, to be for the most part, safe in terms of not bricking the system.



PSICOffee said:

"we want to ensure the best possible gaming experience for our users and there is the possibility that Nintendo 3DS software sold in one region will not function properly when running on Nintendo 3DS hardware sold in another."

This sentence is a contradiction when taking into account a game NOA doesn't want us to play like Mother 3. Hardly seems to be in the gamers' best interest.



Guybrush_Threepwood said:

I hate the region lock of Wii. You cannot access the North American or Japanese online marketplace which is disappointing for all Europeans because of the PAL-disaster on Virtual Console. It's possible on PS3 and Xbox360 though.

And there are already too many interesting Wii games which are only available in either North America or Europe (some of these games are even published by Nintendo), for example:

  • Another Code: R (EU)
  • Trauma Team (NA)
  • Disaster: Day of Crisis (EU)
  • Excitebots: Trick Racing (NA)
  • Pikmin 2: New Play Control (EU)
  • Dokapon Kingdom (NA)
  • Mario Super Sluggers (NA)

PS: So region locking offers the "best possible gaming experience" for customers??? This sentence is my nominee for the dumbest marketing statement in 2011!



Golgo said:

Guybrush Threepwood, he speak heap big truth. This is a loss for gamers, pure and simple. A gamer with wide-ranging tastes - such as myself - would need a system for each region. Win-Win for Nintendo. Again.



StarDust4Ever said:

Every now and then, Europe gets a gem that isn't offered in North America. The Great Giana Sisters DS is one of those gems. It is quite rare now, and delightful to play. I got lucky by swiping it off some German eBayer with an easy "Buy-it-Now" listing. I also had the Japanese 3D-Picross a good year-and-a-half before it released stateside, and I love that title too! Which means if they region lock the 3DS, there will inevitably be more gems that I will undoubtedly miss...



Ristar42 said:

@StarDust - GGS was one of those PAL releases that seemed to find no retail release in the UK, along with Calling, King of Fighters and GTI Club on the Wii. At least you could buy them online and play them though.

Regards region locking, I'm hoping it wont extend to carts unless the publisher puts it in there. The EU has missed some really cool games over the years, the GC Mega Man collection, the recent Data East collection on Wii, Double Dragon Advance and Wario ware twisted on GBA, Contra 4 on the DS, which I still dont understand - why not release Contra!?

Oh, and for me Ouendan on DS has so much more charm than Elite Beat Agents, I dont care that I cant read it!



Big_A2 said:

@42.Chibi_Link: Sad but true. It's one thing to limit the freedom people have when buying games, but to lie to them about it is just a kick in the balls. ACCC to the rescue...?

My American 3DS will connect to my Australian internet connection, right?



MeloMan said:

This doesn't affect me directly, but I do wonder if Nintendo is implying it will fall on the publishers. Thing is, if a publisher wanted to create non-region locked s/w, I guess that means more money they'll have to come out of. Nintendo wins by not losing money, we would win if the publishers go through the trouble, but publishers lose unless they turn a more than worthy profit. The gaming business is incredible thing, good and bad...



Varoennauraa said:

I wan't my Korg DS-10+(and M01), that I bought a DSi for!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! FFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU



Chazroughware said:

what broke my heart about region lock is the japenese box art ..... it is 10 times better then ours , so unfair .....[EXP: metal gear solid 3d japenese box art to ours .......

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