News Article

The Wii U Is Region Locked, Of Course

Posted by Damien McFerran

Quelle surprise!

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, it has been confirmed by Japanese publication Famitsu (via a translated tweet) that the Wii U will feature a region lock system.

This is hardly a massive shock, as all Nintendo's domestic consoles have incorporated such a safeguard - only the Game Boy and DS ranges have opted out so far. The 3DS, which many expected to be region-free, also has a region lock in place.

Region locks prevent players from purchasing software from other territories and using it on their consoles.

[via uk.ign.com, twitter.com]

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User Comments (75)

Void

#3

Void said:

SIGH.....
Even though I doubt I would ever buy a game from anywhere except America, since I can't read Japanese.

DreamyViridi

#4

DreamyViridi said:

And I care because.....?
It's not like I can speak or read Japanese anyway.
It's a shame sure, but nothing to tear your hair about.

Le_Gazman

#5

Le_Gazman said:

I wish they would at least let up on the retro region locking so we can play our GameCube and Wii titles on our new hardware.

warvad

#7

warvad said:

>Region locks prevent players from purchasing software from other territories and using it on their consoles.

Doesn't say anything about downloading software from other territories!

Nintendo, I am disappointed.

Kirk

#8

Kirk said:

I still don't really see the point in region locking consoles. It certainly isn't good for the consumer and it didn't seem to do Nintendo or the Game Boy any harm whatsoever when that platform was not region locked. I just don't see the good of it.

ZeldaFan5991

#9

ZeldaFan5991 said:

Technically, even if a console is region locked, software can still be made region free if the software publisher so chooses. I mean take a look at the Australian version of Pokemon White or Black. It wasn't region locked even on DSi consoles from other regions.

ZeldaFan5991

#10

ZeldaFan5991 said:

@Kirk Nintendo is a segmented company. Kind of like a franchise. There is Nintendo Japan, Nintendo Europe, Nintendo America, and Nintendo Australia. If region locking was not in place, there would be no way for Nintendo to evenly disperse profits amongst all four parts of the company. Example: People in Australia would just import their games from America for like $40 cheaper.

darkgamer001

#11

darkgamer001 said:

Expected this, but I'm still disappointed. For an otherwise innovative company, I can't understand why Nintendo can't move with the times when it comes to region-locking. It really is an archaic practice, that ultimately hurts consumers and limits the potential of the system. And for what? It's not like the majority of consumers import games anyway...

TWK

#13

TWK said:

@ZeldaFan5991 You're absolutely right! As each region has completely different economies, and internal/external markets, and therefore prices are different. Also remember that the actual cost of publishing a game is different in each country; I'm talking about distribution, selling and stuff like that. Countries with higher income-rates generally have higher prices on products.
This was to be expected. Talk about hurting consumers... Nintendo is a company that wants to earn money and therefore needs to adjust itself to each of its markets.

Zyph

#15

Zyph said:

As disappointed as you guys are, we should also consider why Region-Locking takes place in the first place. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Every country has their own policies regarding the nature of a game and that's why there will always be controversies regarding games going overseas. Remember DOA:D for the Australian market? Another factor to consider is that the games have different pricing for each region. Another is that if you import a game, the region where you bought the game will benefit from the sales. This of course is not beneficial to your own region because if the game does come out of your region then sales figures for that specific region will be lower. And localizing a game is not cheap, so if they do localize a game but you imported instead then what's the point of localizing the game for? Of course this does not apply if the game will never be localized, but still. Like in Japan they want to have very accurate sales figures for their own country and that is also very important to them as a company. First and foremost as a company, Nintendo also want to benefit and earn money on their own territories and of course cater to their markets. That is also why they have different divisions for each region.

kyuubikid213

#17

kyuubikid213 said:

Why does it matter so much? As it has already been said, it isn't like we all can actually read Japanese or whatever.

darkgamer001

#18

darkgamer001 said:

Well, maybe some people, you know, actually CAN read Japanese. Maybe in some cases, you don't even need to...ask the Operation Rainfall members how long they had to look longingly at Europe for Xenoblade and The Last Story...and they still can't play Pandora's Tower because of region lock...

Zyph

#19

Zyph said:

@kyuubikid213 Most people who're willing to import doesn't care about that. What matters to them are the gameplay and translations come last. Of course the issue of EU only games versus NA only games. Both are already roughly translated to english but the fact that they still can't play them remains.

Expa0

#20

Expa0 said:

No surprise and TBQH I don't even care that much. BUT WHY THE HELL THEY MUST MAKE THEIR HANDHELDS REGION LOCKED AS WELL!

Bankai

#21

Bankai said:

Good to see Nintendo refuses to learn.

OH BUT THEY CARE ABOUT THEIR CUSTOMERS SO MUCH.

So much so that Sony has managed to give customers region-free gaming for a whole generation now... and Nintendo hasn't.

Yep. Really thinking about the customers more than the pocket book.

GazPlant

#23

GazPlant said:

I can't speak Japanese, or read Japanese, or even get the gist of Japanese, so even with a region-unlocked console I'd be unlikely to buy Japanese games

edhe

#24

edhe said:

@GazPlant

I can't read a word of Japanese, but that didn't stop me from enjoying Ouendan 1 & 2.

That's not to mention games released only in America which you won't be able to play.

DamoAdmin

#25

Damo said:

@OlympicCho Of course, it's not just Nintendo. Microsoft employ region locks on 360 games. And although it's easy enough to overcome, even Apple uses a territory system on iOS - which is really, really silly when you think about it. Why should a digital download be limited by region?

zeldazero

#26

zeldazero said:

Their are usually some good european games that are in english that never come here that would be nice to have, but yes japanese would be worthless since I don't read japanese.

Araknie

#27

Araknie said:

Still much much much better then Online Pass.
This is the way to make market stay honest.
Still all the Wii U announced games, the big ones, in japan are coming in NA ed Europe. So i don't a see a problem.

Bankai

#28

Bankai said:

So because Microsoft does it Nintendo is justified in maintaining a policy Sony has proven is unnecessary?

What kind of logic is that? If Microsoft tries to tell me I can't play Japanese games on the next Xbox because I live in Australia I am going to be pissed off. If Sony reverses its policy on region locking for the PS4 I am going to be really pissed of since I would assume the PS4 will use PSN and I have content from all over the world on that.

The failings or potential failings of other companies does not excuse Nintendo, the great shining light of 'we care about our customers' and 'we are innovative' for being obnoxiously backwards.

Samholy

#29

Samholy said:

FAIL
cant say im a huge import fan anyway. but still, i dont get it. why locking regions. why saying no to people who want to BUY YOUR FREAKING GAMES.

ridiculous.

cfgk24

#30

cfgk24 said:

It's really irritating having to own 2 x USA 3DS Consoles to run Korg DS10+ as a professional musician - AND having to own a EUro 3DS as well . . . . .

Grodus

#31

Grodus said:

OK, I came for news. Where is it?
But really, who cares? Most games eventually come to you, and if they don't, it usually means they didn't sell well, and aren't that good. So deal with it!

RightHemisphereG

#32

RightHemisphereG said:

Theres alot of great possibilities with the hard wear and the game developers they have on board, Right? It's the OS and these brodd restrictions with how there handling these licences() and how we can access are games bot & payed fore. Weather its disk or download there should be a Log in account systems for those user/gamers to have access to purchased software from Home console to portable so that the software is registered to you and your account not excluding wich regioned it originated from.

Bankai

#33

Bankai said:

@Grodus wow that is ignorant.

There are a lot of games that are actually really good that, for reasons of cultural differences or sensitivities, are never localised outside of Japan.

I care a great deal when region locking happens, because it means I need to by two f'ing consoles to get access to all the interesting games.

Aviator

#34

Aviator said:

@Zyph Wait, Australians are the only ones who get butthurt over the ability to look at women in certain ways.

@Damo But at least the 360 allows for the developer to decide. Most of the recent releases (including 360 exclusives) are not region locked.

DamoAdmin

#35

Damo said:

@OlympicCho You're totally missing the point of why companies like Nintendo and MS employ region locking.

Nintendo is divided into several sub-companies, such as NoA and Nintendo Europe, each with a marketing budget, annual spend and sales targets to meet. They use region locking to ensure sales stay in each region, rather than having gamers purchasing software from abroad, which essentially means they 'miss out' on potential profit - profit they hoped to attain by spending money in the UK on adverts and so on.

Yes, the cash all ends up in the same 'Nintendo pot' at the end of the day, but these regional offices still need control over where in the world their software is retailed. It's not to screw the consumer over, but rather basic business practice.

I couldn't comment on why Sony decided to dump region locks on PS3 - my guess is that importing is such a rare practice these days that it's not really worth blocking - but let's not forget that Sony, who you seem to think are pretty swell with regards to importers, shut down online retailer Lik-Sang for selling imported Sony software to players outside of Japan.

Luigifan141

#36

Luigifan141 said:

"All Nintendo's domestic consoles have incorporated such a safeguard - only the Game Boy and DS ranges have opted out so far."

The Virtual Boy was also region free. :)

Anyway, I don't see this as too much of an issue, seeing as my Wii is region free, making imported Wii U games the only imports I can't play. It is a huge turn off, though.

hydeks

#37

hydeks said:

Something that puts 360 and PS3 over the Wii U :P PS3 isn't regional locked, and I'm pretty sure 360 has region free games too.

Bankai

#38

Bankai said:

@Damo Oh I know why Nintendo is shutting down game importing. The difference between you and I seems to be that you think stubbornly sticking to completely outdated business models is a good idea.

In the age of digital distribution and logistics rationalisation Nintendo would be far, far better off shrinking its subsidaries to localised marketing functions and expanding the Japanese central location to cover the global market. People would buy a console, and could then buy their content from one centralised app store (which is how the Apple app store works - it is up to the developer, not Apple, which regions the content is made available). The local offices, of 10-20 people, would organise a third party logistics service and work with local marketing agencies for marketing campaigns.

There is no reason whatsoever Nintendo needs a large publisher function in the US, EU or Australia any longer. That's the old way for doing business and perhaps Nintendo would seem like a far smarter business if it took a couple of leaves from EVERYONE ELSE and started applying some innovation to its business structure as well as its products.

DamoAdmin

#39

Damo said:

@OlympicCho Could you kindly point out to me exactly where I said "stubbornly sticking to completely outdated business models is a good idea"?

I was merely explaining why things are the way they are. And your utopian vision of a global market is entirely incompatible with Nintendo's current set-up. Perhaps they will change as their focus moves towards online-only, but at present the physical market is still massively important - not just to Nintendo, but to MS and Sony. That isn't going to change overnight, hence the continued existence of region locks - which, for the record (and so you don't become confused), I don't agree with.

Bankai

#40

Bankai said:

You think Nintendo's business model is acceptable. Nintendo's business model is stubbornly outdated. Ergo, if you don't think it's a good idea, you are at least defending it.

My utopian vision of a global market would only be utopian if it hasn't already happened. And there is Sony, Google and Apple with global content markets that allow developers, not platform holders, to decide where to publish games.

So really, my utopia is the reality, and Nintendo is the creaky old grandpa insisting on the good ol' days.

Or did I imagine that my PS3 plays Japanese games, or that I have Japanese language games on my Australian iPhone, and really Nintendo's just doing what everyone else is?

DamoAdmin

#42

Damo said:

@OlympicCho Again, where did I say that I thought Nintendo's business model was acceptable? Where am I defending it? I'm just telling you why things are currently the way they are. You seem to think that because I tell you that it's raining outside, I automatically think that damp weather is a good idea. How strange.

The fact of the matter is that the market to which Nintendo currently caters is perfectly happy with physical retail. That is slowly changing, but it's going to take a while. Nintendo has never been a company to make massive, innovative strides when it comes to this sort of thing - look at how long it took to shake off cartridges - but it will happen eventually.

In the meantime, I imagine that Nintendo will gaze upon Sony's region-free stance with indifference; the firm continues to make money with its 'outdated' methods.

aaronsullivan

#43

aaronsullivan said:

There are many legitimate reasons for region locking. As a consumer I can't say I like them, but if I'm an indie selling games online, I'd sure like to compete with the different markets and tastes that regions have separately.

I'd like to put a sale out in one region where competition is heavy or my game is harder to notice without losing money in other regions where people are happy to pay the normal price.

Also, a bunch of people with the wrong language version or other regional differences in content --some regions find things offensive that others don't — could create a support nightmare.

ZeldaFan5991

#44

ZeldaFan5991 said:

@Zyph Exactly. On the topic of the Dead or Alive: Dimensions Australia fiasco, that was a classic example of Australian media at its finest. I mean they had a kid being interviewed saying that DOA was more disturbing than a Halo game. For starters, the kid was twelve and shouldn't have been playing Halo, and secondly, the only minor objection I had to DOA was 2 Downloadable costumes. All the included costumes were fairly modest for a DOA game. Anyway not that it bothers me. I wonder how much I'll get for a limited edition PG version of the game on ebay.....................

WWammy

#45

WWammy said:

There's also the fact of different law in the regions of which Nintendo could fall foul. I'm glad that the UK is one of the regions that Nintendo do actually trade in some regions don't get products until much later unless they import meaning inflated prices

Wheels2050

#46

Wheels2050 said:

No surprises, but it still annoys me. As a PAL gamer I've missed out on several fantastic Wii games, which is disappointing.

There is no reasonable justification for region locking. It made sense once when systems sold in different parts of the world had compatibility problems with TVs elsewhere, but in this day and age that's not really an issue.

Hokori

#48

Hokori said:

This sucks :( I need a way to get my games on to a WiiU and still play japanese only games, since I plan to move there and I want to play all my current games on one system, I have a ton of DL VC games and I'd like to buy games like Fire Emblem, Famicom Wars, Metal Gear, Contra, Metal Gear 2 Solid Snake, Marios super Picross, Custom Robo V2 and of course any possible WiiU games that are Japanese only, and people complaining about not being able to read it, you do know there are some very fun Japanese only games that don't require you to read

WesCash

#49

WesCash said:

I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out "meh, whatever".

Bankai

#50

Bankai said:

@damo and you seem to think that just because I'm calling Nintendo out for anti-consumer and completely unnecessary practices, then I must therefore not understand why Nintendo is doing what it's doing.

I don't need you telling me it's raining if I'm looking outside and water is falling from the sky.

Why this conversation is going nowhere is that I'm saying Nintendo is wrong, you're saying 'this is why Nintendo is doing it,' I'm saying 'yes but Nintendo is wrong,' and you're saying 'the is why Nintendo is doing it.'

Again, I know the business argument behind region locking but that doesn't change the fact it is no better (or any more necessary) than DRM. In fact, it is nothing more than the hardware equivalent of DRM.

Warioware

#51

Warioware said:

This is actually a big deal to me. I am an ex-pat and move around a lot but still basically base in the UK. As such I don't always have a choice as to where the games come from region-wise because it depends on where I am at the time. Not a problem for my Sony consoles but Nintendo is another matter. Also as a former copyright law student there are legal issues with consumers' rights to freely enjoy anything legally purchased, although I don't think anybody has found a decent venue to raise that yet.

Ernest_The_Crab

#52

Ernest_The_Crab said:

@OlympicCho Oddly enough, Sony is doing fairly poorly among the 3 as an actual business. The part about region-free gaming on the PS3 is also mistaken. We all saw what happened with Persona Arena. It's not like region locking doesn't exist on the platform.

In regards to the download store, you could make multiple accounts for different regions but if you made only one it would only have the stuff from your own region. It amounts to, no the PS3 is not region-free but yes it is still better than what Nintendo has in place so far.

I wouldn't really use the DRM comparison, if only because region locking is one part software and another part hardware unless you plan on changing your comparison to better reflect that.

One last thing I need to point out. Your previous posts show extreme bias especially when you throw out the term "utopia" which is highly subjective between different people. It's like if I were to say, "everyone should be logical and unemotional because I feel like it's the best direction."

Also, you may want to take a "critical thinking" course if you haven't done so already. It could be helpful in the long run.

SteveW

#53

SteveW said:

No surprises but still ridicilous.

In the long run they are promoting hacking because people that want to play imports eventually find a way.

TrueWiiMaster

#54

TrueWiiMaster said:

Unfortunate. I don't really have any interest in playing Japanese games since I can't understand them, but European games would have been fair game. Ah well. In the end, it doesn't affect me much as I almost never import games anyway. I'll just keep waiting/hoping for ports of the handful of Japan-only games I want. Maybe the Wii U's eshop will up their chances.

AVahne

#55

AVahne said:

Unlike the 3DS, this was really expected, but no less disappointing. Nintendo is still oh-so backwards. Guess I'll use ps3 and vita for import games...except I won't be able to play some of the games I really want to play, which I bet will end up being exclusive Japan only Wii U games, like on Wii. I intend to get import a Japanese white LL in two years, when its HOPEFULLY cheaper to import, so I can play those imports. Butwith Wii U being a console, no point in owning two just to play imports... Shouldn't have to own 2 freaking 3dses either, but I like how the white LL looks, so I'm not quite as bitter. Still very pissed that I'm forced to do this in the first place.

Netto-kun

#56

Netto-kun said:

Expected, but still sucks. Guess I'll get a second-hand Japanese Wii U at some later point.

Hokori

#58

Hokori said:

@Grodus Some games are really good even if they don't sell well. Ouendan is my favorite DS game, and I don't see an American version of it (EBA doesn't count), also I would love to get a few imports a few months early for bragging rights, also some games being very Japanese so they don't come to the west, but are amazing, I would like to try out miku diva project for 3DS but region locked 3DS :(

UnseatingKDawg

#60

UnseatingKDawg said:

Ah, no big deal for me. Never really got a Japanese import. Don't want to sound ignorant like ol' Grodus here, as I'm sure there are plenty of great titles in Japan. After all, they get the majority of the good stuff WELL before the USA can HOPE to actually have access to them (such as Virtual Console titles). As long as anything Mario or Sonic related is not exclusive over there, I'm fine. Oh wait, they've already done that for both franchises.... FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU...

Hokori

#61

Hokori said:

@UnseatingKDawg Wait? What sonic game is exclusive? Sorry I'm drawing a blank, I know Mario's super Picross is a Mario title exclusive to Eu and Jp

Zantagor

#64

Zantagor said:

@Grodus That's pretty ignorant of you there. Let's see... a game series like Super Robot Taisen are usually pretty solid titles. But because of the nightmare of licenses these games holds, they never come out here, and the only way to play them is to import them. What about Ouendan 1 & 2, Jump Super Stars, heck, One Piece Gigante Battle never came to the US, but got released in Europe.

FonistofCruxis

#65

FonistofCruxis said:

When will Nintendo learn? If the Wii U wasn't region locked then I'd be able to buy any games that get released in America but not Europe, I would have loved to get Castle of Shikigami III for Wii but couldn't because of region locking. Also, fan translators often find ways around region locking but it would still be easier to play fan translated games if consoles like the Wii and Wii U weren't region locked.

Monsti

#66

Monsti said:

@LuigiMan200 you don't. But some people do. I have a few friends at university who study japanese and love many of the games that never make it over to Europe. If they wanna play they need a second console...it's just stupid.

Rapadash6

#67

Rapadash6 said:

Was anyone actually expecting it not to be? Every console they've ever put out was region locked.

Azooooz

#68

Azooooz said:

Why region-locked you are asking? here are the reasons why:
1- Importing game will cost an additional money for the consumer to pay, and Nintendo doesn't want their customers to pay more.
2- Some, if not all, people can't read foreign language such as Japanese. Localizing games is the best solution, but it takes time to do it.
3- Nintendo is divided into regions. Each region has its own economy, therefore, in order to make profit, they need to market games in its own area.

For me, it's not a big deal as all the games will be brought to my country will be NTSC versions (NA).

Bankai

#70

Bankai said:

@TheSolarKnight As I said, Sony is leaving the region locking up to the developer, and not mandating it on the hardware side. This is fact - Persona Arena's region locking is the work of Atlus, not Sony.

And the PS3 is region-free. There is no restriction to the number of PSN accounts you can make (I have four), and if you download a game on your Japanese PSN account you can play it on your American PSN account. Discs-based games are also completely playable on any account you have set up, regardless of region.

The DRM comparison is apt because both region locking and DRM come from the same business driver. It's about controlling the logistics and access to content so that, in theory, the content owner can better work within the market. I'm not wholly against the idea... until you consider that other people have already proven it unnecessary.

Blue-Thunder

#74

Blue-Thunder said:

That's the first nail in the Wii U coffin. It doesn't really bother me but it shows Nintendo are control freaks

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