News Article

Rumour: 3DS will be Region-Locked According to Nintendo

Posted by Trevor Chan

Following in the footsteps of the DSi and DSi XL?

An email response supposedly from Nintendo JP Support has dashed gamers' hopes of eventually importing games for their 3DS.

As spotted by a member at NeoGAF, the quoted email originally posted on Korean message board Ruliweb speaks of the 3DS and how it locks out foreign games upon detection, making them unplayable. Roughly translated, the message says:

There are no Region codes in DS and DSlite... But DSI, DSILL,3DS has Regioncodes... The Region Codes are installed in each games and the 3DS itself. If the codes dont [sic] match... You cant [sic] play...

Nintendo hasn't officially confirmed nor has it denied whether this is true or not, so until it does, consider this another rumour in the lead-up to the machine's launch in the next couple of months. Hopefully, Nintendo will see itself in a position to tell us if the 3DS will be region-locked or not when the preview events take place next week.


From the web

User Comments (84)



Corbs said:

No surprise there. I was expecting this after the talk at E3. Shame though.



Token_Girl said:

Yeah, this is pretty rumor-tastic, but I think the choice to region lock the DSi shows what direction Nintendo is going with this one. There's zero doubt in my mind the 3DS will be region locked. I'm sure that they feel it's just one more thing that makes it a pain in the butt to pirate games.



Objection said:

DAMN. Seriously, I import games the most often on DS (largely because it IS region-free, but also because there are a handful of import-friendly games that never make it over.)



Link-Hero said:

Even if this is true, it doesn't really bother me since I don't import. Don't wan't to buy a game with an unchangable language that I can't read/understand and go through high shipping costs.



Platypus said:

You mean I cant bring it out of America? NOOO.

I don't import games so this is fine with me.

EDIT: the stylus in the picture is just like mine.



NintyMan said:

I never import games. Like what Link-Hero said, I wouldn't want to play a game with a language I don't understand.



Crunc said:

I could have sworn my japanese DS carts work just fine on my DSi... it was only download titles that were region-ized. You can't even buy the download games in the US. Does suck, but my point is that this is a key distinction we need cleared up - does the 3DS lock out other-region 3DS and/or DS games?



LztheQuack said:

@Pocketim: DS games have no region code so they should work anyway

@Crunc: The DS games are region free, however DSi-only and DSiware titles are region-locked



maka said:

Well, it remains to be seen how DS games look on a 3DS... the different in screen resolution can make for a very weird image, unless they don't upscale the display in which case it will be really small... Looks like the DSi or the XL is going to be the best option to play DS games...

About the lock... it's one more incentive for hackers to break into the machine... well done Nintendo! For us in Europe it's a pain because many great games that are released in the US never make it to Europe, and if they do, much later...



DarkKirby said:

Very expected. Nintendo is still upset about piracy and still hasn't learned (and I doubt they ever will) that imports do not ruin local markets. Import ability (region free) in fact supports local markets by telling developers and localizes what games are worth translating and bringing over seas rather then have it 100% determined by their own small group of market ability estimators. Games that would never have been localized if it wasn't for imports - Demon's Souls, Elite Beat Agents, Phoenix Wright.



edhe said:


One more strike, and I'm seriously going to consider cancelling my 3DS preorder.

Unless the UK magically starts getting the decent games that currently only show up in Japan and America.

Fat chance...



edhe said:


Correct me if i'm wrong, but Nintendo doesn't like Action Replay, and actively blocks the peripheral with firmware.

Or I could be thinking of Freeloader, which is geared towards playing games from other regions.



theblackdragon said:

pretty sure that's not possible with DSi/DSi Enhanced games, JesusSaves, so it's doubtful it'd be possible with 3DS games. i could be wrong, though?

and you're thinking of both, edhe -- Nintendo just doesn't like people using cheat devices and/or attempting to play their games on any region's system, and they're apparently bringing that line of thought to their handhelds finally. guess we just got lucky for the first few generations of handheld Nintendo gaming



Kimiko said:

Nearly all my games are imported from the USA, a few from Japan. I'd have to buy a USAian 3DS then, or hack the European one so it becomes region-free.

Wait, isn't region-locking illegal in Australia? I foresee a huge demand for Australian 3DSes then..



Ristar42 said:

See, the thing is some of my favourite DS games are imports, Contra 4, Ouendan, Jump Ultimate Stars...
On the GBA, Double Dragon Advance, Wario Ware Twisted...

Look at the Gamecube version of Sonic Gems, Europe got a 50Hz version and the Streets of Rage games removed from the Japanese release (I know they were also out of the US version).

I recently mentioned on the DS forum, looks like 999 will not come out here, so with this type of policy you need to import a console to play the game.

I guess its to do with protecting profits for regions or something, but as a gamer, its bad news if true.



Punny said:

No need to get our hopes up just yet, folks! Some rumors can be false. Even if it is true, though, the 3DS will still be awesome!



Rensch said:

I think it's probably gonna be true, seeing the DSi is also region-locked.



Guybrush_Threepwood said:

Great job, Nintendo! I still regret that I didn't buy a North American Wii (especially because of the PAL issues on the Virtual Console). This is bad news for all European Nintendo fans. I don't like the idea losing the possiblity to import games since we will never get the same support like Japan or North America.



Arcanum said:

so....if you import a 3DS from, let's say, Japan the imported games from Japan will be playable on that 3DS won't it?



OldBoy said:

Its a damn shame,but I saw this coming after the DSi was region locked so no big surprise.Still I've had some great DS import bargains from the US and I will miss the oppurtunity to get stuff I can't get in the UK.Won't stop me from getting one and maybe some clever folk will find a way around it . Can someone explain why they bother region locking things,I'm guessing Tax related right? ain't everything?



SennaKurosaki said:

Most of the games I play are imported or bought during trips to Asia! I truly hate any kind of region-lock. What the hell are they thinking at Nintendo! This is the worst decision they could make, especially for a portable (holiday) machine! I really hope that they reconsider. Instead they should add multi-language support for each game. So all Japanese games also have English and all American or European games also have Japanese. Region-locks only play into the hands of pirates. Nintendo is betraying their loyal real customers.



SwerdMurd said:

Affects less than 1% of prospective owners...I doubt they care. I hope people that import realize how small a minority of gamers they really are...not that they're doing anything wrong, just that Nintendo doesn't really care about them.

If you're the type of person that even follows games that aren't released in your region, chances are most decisions are made without you in mind. Sad fact of life.



OldBoy said:

@SWERD_MERD "I hope people that import realize how small a minority of gamers they really are...not that they're doing anything wrong, just that Nintendo doesn't really care about them."

Dude as an EU Nintendo fan I already know that they don't care about me! Still sux a little. I thought we were a global market now?



TrevorTheChan said:

Yes, because they are from the same region. The major world markets are Japan, North America, and Europe.

Let's not forget, however likely we think this will be true or not, Nintendo has not clarified whether the 3DS will indeed be region-locked or not.



Bankai said:

So now I need to buy two 3DSes. Good work Nintendo.

Good to know that you guys are hell bent on letting Sony beat them before the PSP2 is even properly unveilled.



V8_Ninja said:

Y'know, I love how stuff like region locking and DRM makes people want to hack games even more than they would if those things weren't in there. It makes me feel as if game companies know exactly what consumers want.

Either way, I'm not surprised. Importing games (especially Japanese ones) takes a skill-set that I'm not really interested in. And besides, someone will come along and break the region locking on the system within a matter of months, so it's not a huge issue.



CanisWolfred said:

Grrr, after getting into importing with the DS, Nintendo now pulls this little debacle. Great, just great. Looks like I'll be depending on the PSP for my Japanese games from now on. And Tales of The Abyss better get localized or I swear I'm done with that series.



lilboyblue said:

Guy calm down. I see Nity hasnt learned their lesson about holding back system power. I guess if they keep this stuff up. Hackers are going to make a 3DS brew. Hackers will be the solution/problem. Hey that my guess on the future anyway. (I dont support piracy.) just to make it clear.



1080ike said:

Don't really care. Unless it's an action game, where there's generally very little text/acting, I don't bother to import. I like to actually UNDERSTAND what I'm playing.



outrun2sp said:

I want in on the US 3DS than. Not touching a european model as they will mess up the virtual console again and there are some good JRPGS that will more than likely not get picked up by european distributors but will in america.

This is the warning that serious UK gamers needed.



kurtasbestos said:

Damn... I'm moving to Japan in July. So now I have to decide if I'll have the patience to both wait a while to buy my 3DS and to play my games in Japanese, or to have a friend or family member in the States ship me a package every time I want to buy a game.



astarisborn94 said:

Hopefully, the rumor isn't true. Region-locking is going to do exactly what Nintendo doesn't want to do; encourage piracy. Here's to hoping that Sony doesn't follow in Nintendo's footstep in region-locking, having an all region-lock generation would be a sad, sad day for gaming.



Bankai said:

To the Americans here: please understand that importing is not just for Japanese games. Europeans often need to import English games from the US. Australians often need to import from either/ or the US or Europe.



shadownin said:

The reasons for region locking are (1) The fluctuations in international currency trading can cause Nintendo to lose money especially if people in one region can buy the system or games cheaper in another for example because the yen is so strong the Japanese 3ds and games are a good bit more expensive then the America prices will be and it could really hurt Nintendo's profit margin if enough Japanese gamers bought American games. (2) Importing hurts tracking of games by region if enough people from Europe import games from America because they are cheaper of because they come out earlier this gives Nintendo a false data point in how many people in Europe buy and play certain game types. This could then harm people who don't import because it would cause certain games to get less attention from Nintendo therefor games are less likely to get released sooner, get delayed even more, or to get imported at all because their data says there is not enough interest. (3) To get people to buy multiple 3ds's if they really want to import badly. (: P.S Don't complain that Nintendo is greedy because if they make more profit they can reinvest that money in expanding so they can make more and better games and perhaps localize more games to more regions faster so you don't have to play japanese games that you can't read. People stop saying that this justifys piracy nothing justifys piracy if I had something you want and just because I don't want to sell it to you doesn't mean you can steal it. Finally This in no will hasten the hacking of the device because people who want free games won't try any harder to hack it just because of region locking and it won't increase piracy just look at the ds being region free didn't help it's piracy problem compared to region locked systems.



Objection said:

Strike 1: Battery Life
Strike 2: Region-lock
And we've yet to hear on price or titles for outside-of-Japan launch.
This isn't good.



komicturtle said:

Well, Pokemon Black and Pokemon White version are region-locked if you play it on DSi or even 3DS and that's because the games have features that the DSi and 3DS have.

This doesn't really affect me, but I do feel bad for those that are affected. At the end of the day, it shouldn't be a 'huge' deal. There's always 3DS homebrew if you're lucky- so you can load any game no matter where it came from just like people do on Wii. Though, that there unintentionally opens the doors for piracy. I don't understand why people try to justify piracy as a good thing. Point is, it's stealing. That's it.



NassaDane said:

Boo, After this everyone is putting thier Eye Patches on and screwing on thier Peg legs, Buying a parrot for their shoulders and hook for a hand.



Warioware said:

Yay! If true, as others have already said I look forward to the 33 percent incomplete European line-up. I would say I'd get a US machine but then I wouldn't be able to use the download service without buying point cards from an import site.....



Wolfenstein83 said:

Yeah, no big surprise there.
But I am sure someone will find a way around it like they always do.
Then again, I don't play imports so no big deal.



timp29 said:

I hope it is not region locked being in Australia and probably missing out on the first release. The next question is if region locking will affect street pass...



theblackdragon said:

that's a very good question, timp29... i'd be interested to know if region will affect street pass as well. i'm guessing so :/



motang said:

I really don't import games, but still it's a sad news, as it means that an era has come to an end.



Bankai said:

Chibi - where does it say the Australian 3DS will be region locked from the UK?



LztheQuack said:

I thought Australia used the PAL format. PAL is the region, not Australia. Correct me if I'm wrong



Bankai said:

You're not wrong. Australian gamers will still be able to happily import from the UK, New Zealand, and any other PAL territory (although the online shop is a different story. That is locked by country, not format)



GamerZack87 said:

@Kimiko: No, our DSi and Wii consoles are region-locked as well; in fact, our Wii and DSi Shops have less releases than Europe! I'm still waiting on the Pop Island games to be released's futile now, though...but if region-locking is illegal here, then Nintendo Australia is one giant company of law-breakers!

@PunnyGuy: I agree! It is still going to be eye-poppingly awesome!
Oops...please don't hate me for making a pun!

On the region-locking side of things, looks like Over the Nexus is my last chance at a Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship title before WC '12 is released on the 3DS...



WWammy said:

Guy calm down. I see Nity hasnt learned their lesson about holding back system power.

There is no lesson to be learned here Nintendo didn't hold back system power it's just that the other consoles are very advanced as at the time they fit unreleased PC hardware and condensed them into relatively small cases.
In the old days the consoles use to use existing proven technology but the fact that Sony and Microsoft used very powerful PC technology in their consoles shows because Nintendo's console is the most reliable of the three available today as the others are plagued with overheating problems.

Back to the subject I personally don't import a lot of games but region locking sucks for games or movies.



GamerZack87 said:

@Chibi Link:
"As soon as we know more details (I'm guessing the 19th Jan event), I'll be contacting the ACCC to complain. If the ACCC agrees that it is illegal, they will force Nintendo Australia to remove region locking from the 3DS."

And if Nintendo Australia refuses to cooperate, it could mean the end of the 3DS within Australia! O.O



JimLad said:

It's surprising how many games never make it out of Japan, and even more surprising how many never make it out of the Americas.
Anyone that's mad about games should understand how infuriating it is to be denied a chance to play something just because it's not financially viable in your market.



Golgo said:

Shame so many are dismissing thsia non-issue. Not being able to read language sometime doesn't matter in the enjoyment of a game. Some of my DS faves include Ouendan and Jump Superstars. And it was a real thrill to ba able to travel to Japan and pick up intriguing games you'd never seen/heard of and just take a chance on them. Ah well, no more of that, until the 3DS is hacked - as inevitably it will be now, and very soon. Not that I'd hack mine, but many, many people now will as a result of this stupid region-lock decision.



Bankai said:

@Chibi Link - that "news" story has no source whatsoever. The writer was jumping to conclusions.

Secondly I want to see this law which states a corporation can't region lock to a single country if they deem that appropriate.



outrun2sp said:

Anyone from europe who buys one, dont moan when VC is messed up again. You have been warned.



Ernest_The_Crab said:

@78 Big problem with that argument though (surprisingly no one has brought this up yet). It only applies to DVDS. The 3DS, as is known at this point, uses cartridges.

And yes a technicality can mean all the difference in a legal battle.



Marioman64 said:

it says DSI has region codes, but my Daigasso Band Brothers DX works on it, so are you saying they are planning on locking the DSi or that they already have and it didn't stop my cart for some reason?



Ristar42 said:

Importing and games piracy are quite seperate. True gamers have been importing stuff for years, in Europe to play at 60Hz, or to get hold of great games which would never be localised.

@outrun2SP - I also think it is quite likely any home consoles emulated on the 3DS (not handhelds), will be 50Hz.

If these things come about, it will cause me to think twice about buying the console, will buy more retro stuff instead.



Ecto-1 said:

The DSi has been region locked since launch, however DS game cards are not. The region locking mostly applies just to DSiWare and DSi exclusive/enhanced games.

This is not really surprising to me. I've been assuming it would be region locked since it was announced simply because the DSi/DSi XL's were. Why wouldn't the 3DS follow suit?



Stuffgamer1 said:

@WaltzElf (post #50): Don't forget that it is sometimes desirable for Americans to import PAL games as well, usually because they're the only English version available. I've imported Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland and Colour Cross (the American release was completely unheard of at the time), and have considered a few other imports including a couple of Bomberman titles and The Last Window.

Of course, companies could make this necessity moot by just releasing the games for me to buy here, but they'd apparently rather make it so I can't play them at all. That is how I, as a gamer, view region locking. I don't give a crap about the business reasons, valid or not...I just want to play my daggone games!

I've seen nothing to suggest that anyone has suffered from the lack of region enforcement on the PS3. The way Sony's been acting lately, I'd have to assume they would have patched the system to be region locked by now if they had. The vast majority of people simply buy their games as they would with any other system, while hyper-geeks like me get to play what we want. And considering hyper-geeks like me are high-spending gamers, you'd think they'd want to consider our needs more carefully...

One thing I have noticed is that Sony doesn't routinely act as though there's no way we know what's releasing in other regions. Nintendo definitely still does, which I find insulting. Refusing to say anything one way or another about a game that's already been released in other regions just because it isn't on the local agenda is BS! Games like Trace Memory 2 (Another Code: R), NPC Pikmin 2, The Last Window...NOA has never even acknowledged these titles, leaving us with no way to know if they will eventually come, or if we're just screwed.



Big_A2 said:

I like how Americans are fine with this, but PAL gamers are going bats**t. So we should. We save some big bucks by importing. and play games that will never be released here.

@Chibi Link: I'll be importing my 3DS from the US as well. I feel real sorry for Nintendo of Australia though. They did quite well considering how small the portion of the market Australia represents is. Good bye, old friend. Contact the ACCC about the 3DS when more details are revealed too. I might do so myself. Seems like just another reason to pirate games.

Worse case scenario: I might turn into a Sony fanboy.



shadax said:

The region lock makes the 3DS even more unattractive to me. Having heard about the low battery life time and the estimated price range, this one's topping it totally off.

EDIT: I was just thinking of Contra 4, which I wouldn't have been able to play if the DS(lite) had a region lock. Bye bye, 3DS



plutonium136 said:

i've imported one from america (i'm in australia). will the 3ds work? or is it that the GAMES won't work



theblackdragon said:

@plutonium136: Your imported 3DS will work just fine, and it'll play your entire library of DS games, but you'll have to import any DSi-enhanced and 3DS games to play on it from North America or they won't work. Your 3DS will also be tied to the NA e-Shop, meaning you'll have to purchase games for it either using a credit card linked to a NA address or you'll have to buy NA points cards to redeem through the e-Shop. You'll probably be able to get the latter over the internet.

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