News Article

Soapbox: Why Region Locking Is A Total Non-Issue

Posted by Damien McFerran

Damien McFerran outlines why the current hot topic is hot air

In the first of what we hope will be a series of first-person discussions, Nintendo Life editorial director Damien McFerran shares his opinion on the recent calls for Nintendo to remove regional locks on its systems. Seeing as this is the first feature, we should point out that the views shared here are not necessarily those of Nintendo Life itself; rather, this is an opportunity for individual staff members to voice their opinions and concerns, and for you, the reader, to contribute yours.

Before we get down to business, here’s a little background on my life as a gamer. My first console was a Japanese Sega Mega Drive, purchased by my father prior to its launch in both the US and the UK. I grew up playing Japanese games and when the 16-bit system eventually hit British shelves, I quickly became aware that restrictions were in place which prevented me from borrowing Mega Drive titles off my friends and plaything them on my Japanese system.

When the SNES was released I opted for a UK model, and then had to wrestle with a variety of converter cartridges in order to get games from America and Japan running on the machine — and even then, I had to endure slower performance and big, thick borders at the top and bottom of the screen: the curse of many a PAL gamer. During the 32-bit years I would either choose Japanese hardware or modify my UK consoles so they could run games from any region, and this continued right up until the Dreamcast was released at the end of the decade. I picked up a Japanese system months before the western launch and would gladly drop a week’s wages on a single imported game.

I guess the picture I’m trying to paint here is that in the past I’ve been a staunch supporter of importing. There was a time when I would practically turn my nose up at a UK region game and pay drastically over the odds in order to obtain the more desirable Japanese edition. I honestly dread to think how much money I’ve wasted over the past two decades buying expensive versions of games already available for much less cash in the UK.

Given this history, you might assume that I’m totally in favour of recent calls to end region locking on Nintendo systems, but I’m not. I should probably state right now that I’m not against making consoles region-free. Consumer choice is always good. However, I can clearly see the reasons why Nintendo wants to lock down its systems, and these reasons have been set in stone for years — just because Microsoft and Sony have decided against locking doesn’t make Nintendo’s reasons any less valid.

One of the main reasons I can’t see why the abolition of region-locking will make any difference is purely personal; despite my background as an importer, I have yet to purchase a single Japanese or American game for my region-free PS3, and all of my PS3-owning friends are in the same position. You’d think that I would be the perfect person to take advantage of this feature, but these days there is genuinely little need to pay over the odds for an import game, unless you’re fond of totally obscure RPGs packed with Japanese text (which, I should point out, I can’t read).

Over the years, the issue of slower PAL conversions has been eradicated and now all games sold in Europe run full speed and full screen, as the original developers intended. Therefore, one of the key reasons for importing — at least in the UK, where I live — has been totally removed. Secondly, release dates are now closer together than ever before. We’re seeing games hit Japan, North America and Europe in quick succession, which again removes the need to pay extra cash to get a game early. In the case of the Wii U, Pikmin 3 will launch across all three territories in the space of three weeks. Are you honestly going to pay more cash to get the Japanese version just to own it for an additional 21 days?

"But I want to play games that won't be coming out in my region," is usually the next line of attack made by the anti-region locking brigade. While this argument held weight about a decade ago, these days publishers have become really good at making sure western gamers get localised versions of the best games Japan can offer. As I said before, unless the game you’re hankering for is super, super obscure, there’s an excellent chance that it will be brought to the west at some point. Just look at Pandora’s Tower, Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story. All risky RPGs with lots of text to translate, but they were localised all the same.

Had you decided to buy the Japanese version of any of these games — which would have been unplayable unless you had an intimate understanding of the language — then the publishers which worked so hard to bring them to the west would have lost a potential sale. That’s the unpleasant situation that region-free gaming gives us; ironically, it’s a scenario which could potentially result in western gamers getting less choice rather than more. Publishers might be reluctant to spend cash on producing region-specific versions if they know that consumers can simply import the title from overseas. Localising software costs an incredible amount of cash, especially when there’s a lot of text involved. Why bother when there's no guarantee that it will sell if you make the effort?

It’s also worth noting that the number of people who actually understand what region locking means is tiny — in fact, it's almost insignificant from a business perspective. The vast majority of gamers who plough their cash into the global interactive entertainment industry would never even consider buying a game from outside of their respective territory. You could argue this is down to the balance of power shifting from Japan to the US and Europe, where games like Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto and FIFA all launch first, therefore totally negating the need to import, but in reality most players are quite happy to buy what is placed in front of them at their local retailer. It's not like players are struggling for choice when it comes to games these days, especially when you take into account download services like XBLA, PSN and the Wii U eShop. Most people don't need to look beyond their own territory to find games they want to play.

Money is another reason why Nintendo supports region-locking. Like most multinational companies, Nintendo has separate offices with separate budgets in each region it trades in. Therefore, when a game launches in the UK, Nintendo’s UK arm is assigned a budget for marketing and promotion. Why would Nintendo UK want to spend cash on making sure people are aware of a game being released when players could view the advert on TV and then simply order the same title from the US or Japan? Region locking allows Nintendo to manage its international business in a more effective manner, as it knows that money spent marketing games in a particular region will — for the most part — result in games being purchased in the same region, not from another.

As Nintendo president Satoru Iwata himself has stated, content ratings are another prime consideration. Each territory has its own age guidance system, and although the ratings are pretty constant across all regions — a game with violence and sex in is the same no matter where you play it, after all — there are subtle cultural differences which should always be taken into account, not only in terms of content but also in how a piece of software is marketed. This might seem absurd, but it’s worth remembering that there was a time when use of the word “hell” was frowned upon in North America — those of you old enough to recall the Steve Jackon and Ian Livingstone's Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks might recall that House of Hell (as it was known in the UK) was retitled House of Hades in the US. Nintendo is incredibly protective of its image and region-locking is one method to exercise this control.

From a purely personal perspective, one of the main reasons I simply don’t understand the recent call for Nintendo to end region locking is because I feel that if you’re going to be an importer, you’ve got to go the whole distance, like I had to back in days of the SNES, Mega Drive, Saturn and N64. As a youngster, I actually quite liked the fact that I had to go that extra mile to play Japanese games — it meant buying an expensive console, using a step-down power converter and sometimes even paying an obscene amount to have special leads made which would allow the system to run on UK television sets. You could argue that I simply had more money than sense — and you’d be correct — but at the time it felt like I was part of an elite sector of the gaming community; I bought mysterious new consoles before they were released in the UK and dazzled my friends with unheard of and exotic games.

I’ve said it once and I think it’s worth repeating: I’m not against the removal of region locks. I just find it fascinating that there has been such an uproar online recently about this very same topic, and such a negative reaction to Nintendo’s reluctance to follow Sony and Microsoft’s lead. I think if players sat down and seriously considered how many import titles they would actually buy during an entire hardware generation, they’d quickly see that this whole furore isn’t worth their time or effort; to most players, region locking is such a non-issue that they probably aren’t even conscious of its existence. That being the case, can anyone really expect Nintendo — the most stubborn of all the console manufacturers — to turn its back on a policy which has done it no discernible harm for the past three decades?

Do you agree with Damien's perspective on region locking, or do you feel it's something which really should have been done away with by now? Or perhaps you were blissfully unaware that it even existed? Vote in the poll below to share your view, and don't forget to post a comment to give us a little more detail on your opinion.

What are your thoughts on region locking? (590 votes)

It should be a thing of the past, I want the option to buy games from all regions


I always buy games from my own region, so I'm not really bothered either way


I can see Nintendo's point of view and don't see the need to remove region locking


I didn't even know what region locking was before reading this, but I'd like to see it removed


I didn't even know what region locking was before reading this, but I'm fine with it remaining in place


Please login to vote in this poll.

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User Comments (276)



Jonny said:

I agree that it's mostly a lot of hot hair over nothing Damien in theory but all it takes is one game (for example Persona 4 arena) to take months to get here for people to want them gone. Nintendo though to their credit have normalised release dates across the world really well.




Around 30% or more of my DS games (using that as an example) was from NA. I have played a colossal number of DS games in my time too. Most of the time from games that never made it over here and some times from games that we ended receiving very much later on. I support the consumers right to import tbh. Great article though. Well done.



Windy said:

I would imagine people who import these days would be a very small group of people who are probably buying old imports from the PCEngine and Megadrive and such. It makes a great talking point and always will. There will be people who rise up and protest (operation rainfall) It all makes good media. I havent imported a game for years and just have no desire to do so anymore



AVahne said:

It's not just the desire to import from JP. There are JP games localized ONLY for America or ONLY for Europe. NA and EU gamers want to import from each other as well.



accc said:

I imported all three Rainfall games from Europe so that I wouldn't have to wait almost a full year for each of them to come out in North America. All three games were successful in NA anyway so I guess they didn't need my sales after all. This wouldn't be an issue if Nintendo was better at localizing their games for all markets and releasing them in a timely manner.



Lin1876 said:

The main problem I have with this article is the assumption that because the author doesn't import games, the rest of the world doesn't either. Yes, localisation of Japanese games (which is what importing comes down to for the most part) is much better than it was, but it's still not perfect. Pandora's Tower, for example, was released in America almost two years after Japan, and a year after Europe. Fire Emblem Awakening was released in Europe months after it was released in America.

Further, the author contradicts himself. He says that an end to region locking will impact sales to the point where publishers will chose not to release games in a given region, then goes on to say that only a tiny minority actually care. Surely that minority won't adversely affect sales to that extent. I doubt, for example, that XSeed were put off publishing The Last Story because some people imported the game from Europe or Japan.

The final point was Nintendo's attitude to image and regional difficulties. These are at least somewhat understandable in isolation, but were Nintendo not as concerned about them when they decided not to region lock the DS? The entire argument is blown apart by the fact that the 3DS is the first Nintendo handheld to feature region locking.

Just because something has always happened does not mean it needs to keep happening. Nintendo are severely behind the curve on this, and aren't helping themselves at a time when they are being perceived, as being conservative and out-of-touch. Region locking is, mercifully, a thing of the past; Nintendo should acknowledge that fact.



Aaronzord said:

I'd really love to play Adventure Time on 3DS, but I can't...because it was only released in America. I'd also like a physical release of Code of Princess, but yeah...only in Japan and America.

It's fair enough that the Wii U is region locked, because that's the standard for Nintendo home consoles. But the handhelds have always been region free, so to intentionally block them is pretty mean. I imported a lot of GBA and DS games that were never released here and had a lot of fun playing them. It's very disappointing that I can no longer do that.



Azooooz said:

For me, it doesn't matter if they remove it or not because most of the games available at retailers in my country are NTSC version. Region lock on Wii U won't be an issue because you use it at home. On the 3DS however, This should be removed.



FadedSun said:

I see there's an almost 50/50 split between don't care, and abolish region locking. We'll never move forward at this rate! Personally, I've only imported a couple PS2 games in the past, since then I've never bothered to import anything.



Beta said:

My only problem is I'm in a country in-between regions, so I could import from either the US or Europe, and buying them from the US is cheaper (and even then the difference is small when you take account that shipping from the US is more expensive), so that's why region-locking is slightly inconvenient. But I still won't complain if they don't remove it and it wouldn't matter much to me.



Grubdog said:

Not many people do it because they can't. Very simple, I have dozens of DS and PS3 games from the US and Japan and enjoy them a lot. You don't, seriously? Maybe you're not as active a gamer as you think you are, that's OK. Half my DS collection is from the US and I live in Australia.

The world is becoming more disconnected and that's my biggest issue, having to change my identity to play a game. Having different names for SwapNote / Nintendo Letter Box. It's gone too far.

I have a lot of Americans on my 3DS playing Etrian Odyssey 4, and I can't even buy it.



Peach64 said:

Everyone that seems in favour of region locking comes at it from a perspective of UK/US gamers importing from Japan, and ignores everything else. Exchange rates mean Australian gamers for example can save a LOT of money by buying US games instead. There are a lot of other countries that end up in this situation.

Personally, I've imported quite a bit, but I'd never import hardware. You have no chance of getting imported hardware fixed under warranty by Nintendo or anyone else.



Grubdog said:

@Peach64 yep exactly, one dead pixel on a 3DS screen and you're screwed. I wanted the Animal Crossing XL but it's just not that simple.



Bigmac1910 said:

It's really weird that the author says it's a non issue, especially when NIntendo is the absolute worst at releasing in all territories at the same time compared to Sony and MS. Nintendo Europe keep on apologizing for delayed games constantly, like Fire Emblem etc. Also, not all games are imported from Japan as other people have pointed out. Region locking in a global economy is just plain stupid, ditto for several accounts for each region. Apple only has one account, and it's worldwide.



HandheldGuru97 said:

A very excellent article, I for one am not bothered by region locking. Sure there are some games (Retro Game Challenge 2) that I'd like to import its the cost of importing that keeps me a way from it.



ueI said:

I agree that the sudden concern over region locking is strange, but I'm in favor of region freedom. The best arguments have already been used, but I have one criticism left regarding your "region freedom hurts sales" argument. You say you used to import all the time. Do you really think publishers cared less about sales back then?



SanderEvers said:

@Bigmac1910 Okay, let's look at Apple.

Apple makes smartphones, tablets, media players and computers (macbook, iMac, etc) All this controlled from the USA. Apple does not take local norms and values into account and relay everything you do with their devices to the American Government.

I live in a small country in Europe (The Netherlands) and Apple currently has one Store here (in Amsterdam) and is trying to force the American way of life trough our throat. I love Apple products, but that doesn't mean that I'm happy about the way they treat people. (warranty, support, etc)

Nintendo however has a local division right here in the Netherlands that takes care of marketing, shipment and warranty here in the Netherlands. They've adopted to the Dutch culture. They wouldn't be able to do this without region locking. Sure, it'd be nice if they'd allow us to play any regions game on our consoles. But most games are already being released here, or not if a game doesn't fit the market or culture.



Jaydenn said:

I'm really not too bothered about region locking.. most decent Japanese games are localised to where I live anyway.. The only time where RL grinds my gears is when games are delayed, such as Fire Emblem or take an excessively long time to be localised, such as Bravely Default (which I hope they keep the name, I love it personally).



SanderEvers said:

Delaying games because of the translation is a good thing. And because Europe has many different languages these things do take time on games that rely much on textual content.

I'm still amazed that they're going to launch Pokemon X & Y globally on the same day.



retro_player_22 said:

Somehow Nintendo did not had any problem with region-free on the handheld side of their marketing until the DSi & 3DS. That I don't get, why region lock now when the entire Game Boy line wasn't not, heck even the first two DS models was region-free. Might I also said the original SNES was region free too, all you had to do was take out the two tabs inside the cart slot and you can play import EU & JP games on it, though illegally but hey it's your console.

Also I don't like Ninty's way of always blocking third party software that helps consumers, software like GameShark and Freeloaders were awesome enhancer for gamers to mess around with, it doesn't corrupt games or infringe anything of the sort. Also Freeloader allows gamers to play games from other regions legally on their console. Why Ninty had a problem with that I don't get. It was a great software for GameCube and for Wii (early on), but c'mon taking that away from the consumer especially when they already bought the software with their hard earn money to have that experience, that's just wrong. Sad to say, doing that is not helping consumers, it would only encourage piracy.



AugustusOxy said:

BS reasoning is BS, a lot of games aren't coming over here, even high dollar, well selling games in japan that would sell well over here. Region locking should be abolished, it makes no sense, and if the game is imported enough, it usually gets a Western Release that most gamers buy as well.

Bandai Namco is a perfect example of why people should be able to import games, they don't bring squat over, even games that take a good ten days to translate and have barely any text.



pepsiplunge said:

I think people focus too much on the issue of importing games from japan and forget that there's more than two regions.
Rune factory 4 is getting released this summer on the us. There's not even word of a european release. Then we have games that take months to get to europe after their us release.
Going back to japan, people always point to games that get localized but what about the ones that don't? Senran kagura is more than probably not getting localized and super robot wars ux is 100% not getting released over seas. These are two games that I would've bought by now if I could.
We also can't ignore that out of the three big console manufacturers only nintendo region locks their consoles.



Linkstrikesback said:

" Pandora’s Tower, Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story."

~Of all the games you could have picked to use as an example of being pro region locking, you picked the ones that it took years of campaigning from the public to get released on the wii, and even then, it looked like for a long time that Pandoras tower and Last story were never getting a release in NA?

just, wow.

And besides that, there are plenty of games that get huge delays in either the NA-> Europe or Europe-> NA releases, despite being in the same language in UK/NA. I imported loads of DS games across the pond, and it angers me to no end that I can't do that.

And then you get games like virtues last reward, where the Europe version is missing the huge option of english voices, where the NA game had both the dub and subbed versions to choose from.

And as for "most games get released everywhere"? Uh, no they don't. Just a quick look on the wikipedia list of 3DS games shows that there are at least 50 3DS games in japan that don't even have a release date in Europe yet. And I just stopped counting at 50.



JGMR said:

I had many Japanese Game Boy games back in the day, that were never ever released in the West. Away with yer region-lock!



Assassinated said:

So it's a very tiny minority that imports that drastically hurts sales to the point where companies don't even want to localize because everyone who'd want it would already have it? You are contradicting yourself here, unless these importers are importing thousands of the same games at a time.



AtomicToaster said:

As of right now I can see how the argument that fewer games would get localized holds a lot of weight. Had Wii been region free would we have seen Pandora's Tower, Last Story, and Xenoblade make it to the States? I don't know if we would have because the people rallying for the American release might have just imported and never bothered.

I'm also hearing it's far more cost effective to buy a Japanese Wiiu and hit up their eshop anyway. Although you could argue you can hit up the Playstation store from you PSN without a hitch and get it all in one place..... but yeah again we come back to the argument if it's that easy would they even bother releasing in your territory for small releases like the ones above?



cdude said:

While the general point of the article is nice, its treating region locking as an industry problem rather than a nintendo problem. Ms and sony dont even have to consider it because theyll always have a steady influx of third party support in front of their consumers at the store. Nintendo most often has nothing. Most often with nothing even coming for a while.

You proved your point with fifa and gta and whatever else you mentioned, but wii u isnt getting any of those titles. So exactly what are you saying author?

That we should wait to buy titles that wont come to our region without petitions and outcry because importing an english dubbed game a year in advance from eu to america isnt hardcore enough?

The only reason nintendo fans care about region locking is because theyve perpetually got nothing to play FOR NO GOOD REASON



Yosher said:

If the regular DS was region locked, I never would have been able to experience the wonderful world of Ouendan! Elite Beat Agents was cool too, but there's just something about the Japanese versions...

Also, due to the Wii being region locked, I never got the chance to play Mario Super Sluggers (which I really wanted, being a Mario fan), ExciteBots or Kirby's Anniversary collection. So I say, go away region locking. Even after reading this article my opinion hasn't changed a bit, because there'll always be games that will never be released in certain regions and that those regions will never be able to play unless they spend even more money on a console from that region. And that is a problem.



AtomicToaster said:

I get those couple of games took years to get, but they did make it! I'm wondering what the counter argument is that we'd get more games localized from Japan if we were region free. I'd like to see that because I'm thinking it's doubtful we actually would get more games made for States and US.

Other than that, yeah I support it as a consumer. I think it's nice to have the freedom to say you'd like the Japanese version of a game. Or import a game that's never coming over!



Buduski said:

One legitimate reason why it should end is because, like myself I know there are others who are gamers in the military and if you have to deploy or change home staitions region locking could be an issue if trying to buy games localy at a different region.



Shugo said:

I see Nintendo's strategic reasons for having it, but honestly I don't think it does them as much good as they think it does anymore.

A couple things I disagree with:

You say that being region-free could limit the localized games we end up getting, but history itself has proven otherwise: just look at PS3. PS3 is the go-to console for JRPGs in this passing generation and yet it's region-free. Games that were strongly imported due to their perceived impossibility of western release still ended up getting one anyway, like Project DIVA F. DS and PS3 are huge testaments to the viability of region-free games.

Second, I feel that you're projecting a bit too much. I too feel cool for having an entirely Japanese console that I paid extra for, but I would still really prefer to not have to drop hundreds on something I essentially already own just because I want to play a few Japan-only games. I'm not made of money. Machines are also getting a lot more personal too, with profile features and things like StreetPass. Kind of annoying having two whole personalized consoles to maintain when I could just have it all consolidated into one.



clavier141 said:

"It should be a thing of the past, I want the opinion to buy games from all regions"

Shouldn't this say "option" and not "opinion" Nintendo Life?



SweetG83 said:

I own my fair share of JPN and EU ds software and yes I own both the EU and NA version of Another Code.
I was excited when they announced a sequel for the Wii, I was not happy to hear that it would not be made available in NA.
Was upset about Fatal Frame IV and I know good and well I have no chance of scoring a legit NA release for Senran Kagura.
X from Monolith Soft has me excited, I remember being excited by the e3 reveal of another Monolith Soft title in Disaster Day of Crisis. I just hope that it doesn't share the same fate forcing me to miss out yet again because Nintendo feels I don't have the right to choose what I wish to pay for and enjoy in their particular region.



Idolo said:

While I don't import regularly I have done it in the past particularly for my PSP and DS. For me though I don't see this as a major problem what with so few games not getting western releases these days. Project Cross Zone just released on Friday, love it. Bravely Default is due end of the year in EU/UK and early next In the US, cant wait. My personal 2p on the issue I think it is to do with the E-Shop and growing focus of DLC.

If some one was to import a game from the US or JPN the EU DLC would be incompatible with the software. The PS3 has seen similar issues particularly with Fallout 3 where the DLC description states a certain batch number that its compatible with. While in the past its been fine to import games knowing they are complete, these days developers are constantly wanting you to spend more. As far as I know the 3DS can only access the eShop of its designated region (i.e EU 3DS cant access US eShop). I feel that by having the region locking in place It helps Nintendo better control the user experience so that compatibility is guaranteed for the consumers device.



akabenjy said:

In Australia most resellers won't accept games for trade in unless they have an Australian Rating so I don't import games from the UK anymore.



Cabooselololol said:

My problem isent that we cant import games at a cheaper price or that the game might come to where i live, its that it never comes if the region it originally sold failed to bring money For so long ive wanted the latest Hatsune Miku game on 3DS, i got the PS Vita version and PS3 version, but if the game dosent get much money during the region it was released in (Hatsune Miku 3DS as an example), Sega wont spend money translating it, and such ill never play it. Same goes for many Sequels and such, if they failed commercially in Japan or America, then us Europeans (or Australia in my case) never see them and they never get translated, while if Nintendo was region free, they would get sales and maybe other people could enjoy them and even make them translate them as the extra region free copies are sold internationally and such makes more money.



AtomicToaster said:

It's almost a non issue because it now sounds cheaper just to buy a Japanese Wiiu and import from Japan and download via eshop.... but if you could access all stores from all regions like PS3 can that would be huge!



ramstrong said:

I can see Nintendo''s point of view. Dealing with governmental regulations can be a frustrating affair. OTOH, for games that pass muster internationally, I'd like to see an option on eShop to buy English/Japanese version of the game. Kind of like watching subtitled Foreign movies experience.

There's nothing wrong with experiencing the latest games ahead of everybody else. That's common. Buying Japanese games when you can't read Japanese, and refused to take Japanese lessons, OTOH, well...



Cabooselololol said:

@akabenjy Yeah, Australia has that problem due to the fact our rating system is government based, luckily we have indie stores that import them anyways or online



retro_player_22 said:

I could see Nintendo not wanting their console to be region free or giving the consumer that option but c'mon when 3rd party are giving consumers that privilege they took that away too. Had my Freeloader for Wii still works, I would had still be playing my copy of Zero II remake, Another Code R, and Disaster: DOR right now. Instead they became nothing more than just plain disc now. Screw Nintendo and their block everything firmware update. Now I can see why 3rd party don't want to work with them. Luckily I still enjoy some of their games or otherwise I too will end my support for their arrogant practice.



NintyMan said:

Thanks for the very informative article, Damien. I knew very little about region locking until I read this. Now I better understand why Nintendo would want to keep it.

I was curious about the re-emergence of this topic since it practically took over Miiverse. It's not as bad now, but a couple of weeks ago Miiverse was flooded with people making drawings and posts calling on Nintendo to end region locking, and they became very popular. It got to be so common that it became annoying.

Region locking is a bigger issue in Europe, but as the article pointed out, the technical limitations European games and game systems had are gone now. Only a very small group of people actually import games now, but if there was a large group of people doing it, then I can definitely see how games like Xenoblade would be less likely to be localized if a lot of people were just getting the game overseas anyway. I can also understand why Nintendo would want to make money in its regional divisions. This is yet another example of fans and business getting into conflict.

I personally don't care either way. If someone wants to pay out the kazoo to import a foreign game, then fine as long as he or she understands it enough to play it. But I also understand why Nintendo as a business wants to keep the lock in place.



Kaze_Memaryu said:

To be honest, there's nothing in this article I haven't heard of already, but Damien does have a point in that import can possibly hurt localization efforts...

Still, there are quite a few games on the 3DS alone which will never see the western world: Senran Kagura, Loveplus, Puyo Puyo, Hatsune Miku, Super Robot Taisen, E.X. Troopers, UnchainBlades EXXiV, etc... - I could extend the list even more!

All of these titles might be too niché for the western market, so developers don't even bother with localizing them, not even as download-only titles (which would save quite a few bucks here and there). And that's where the region lock becomes an issue. It doesn't matter if I can understand japanese or not, if I'm willing to give a company money for a game, Nintendo shouldn't step in and send me away (or force me to give THEM money for a console I already own), they should do what I suggested in another discussion: leave the choice of region-locking to the devs. Let them decide whether they should try and localize a game, or just give the world a chance to play it without such plans.

OR if Nintendo wants money so much, they could release a program on 3DS which has you pay for region-unlocking games (paying for unlock once per game, of course!) - such a program could also control whether it's an imported game that will be released and lock the import version once the localization is finished.. There's always an option to appeal to all, but Nintendo is a bit behind on such possibilities.



Royalblues said:

Eh... Region-locking sucks!
What also sucks, is when a game takes a trillion years to localize, or doesn't come out in a particular region at all.



the_shpydar said:

I personally don't care either way. I could count on one hand the amount of games I've considered importing, and I never have because most are filled with Japanese text.

I do understand some people being frustrated with it, but I tend to agree that it's a "problem" that's been grossly overstated by the infamous "vocal minority" of gamers on the 'net.



ueI said:

I don't think region locking benefits localization much. Xenoblade received such a limited print run here that it almost would have been better to import a region free version.



Bigmac1910 said:


I'm not sure if your answer has too much to do with region locking, but I live in the UK, and Apples service has been excellent both in the Apple store and online. They replaced my old iPhone 3g right away in store when the software seemed to act up, even though I couldn't prove it at that time. Even gotten refund for online digital purchase when I felt the info wasn't clear enough. But yeah, I don't think region locking and customer service has anything to do with one and other.



unrandomsam said:

I don't think it ever did much good the only difference is now is it is much harder to break it.

The Japanese mega drive was region free as far as it matters. (Dirt cheap convertor or tiny change to the slot). Only stuff that wouldn't have been ok were PAL versions of stuff like Thunderforce IV. (Speed optimized). At the time a fairly large proportion of Gamestation etc type shops were 50/50 Megadrive / Genesis.

I know there is going to be a whole load of stuff that is not released in Europe by the time the 3DS ends. (My favourite games to play now on my 3DS are all either NA or JP imports.)

Rondo of Blood was one of the best games I played on the Virtual Console and it was completely untranslated.

They use the "We will only do an eshop release as if it is a great favour to the consumer. It is to make them more money nothing else by deliberately trying to kill the used market."

I also think adding an English voice track to a Japanese game makes it sound not right. (Don't mind English text if it is an RPG). Not bothered about voice tracks but a game has one then it should be in Japanese.

Most of the Japanese games I would want to import have the important parts of the interface in English anyway. (Score / Number of lives left).

There is the other thing that the difficulty is sometimes reduced (To make the game more suitable for Western audiences.) in the process of localisation.

RPG's / Even stuff like Contra 4 there is likely to be a reasonable number only avaliable in NA.
Shootemups / Most likely not going to be available outside JP.

Online likely to be best with a PAL system.

If there is a reasonable way around it then that is one thing. If I need 3 3DS XL's that is another. (Not particularly bothered about waiting).

I am going to buy the Jap Arena Shooter (Begins with a K and it is out in NA now) as soon as it goes on the European eshop. (Just because I want more stuff like it but I expect it won't do well and it will be the last one we get).

Might be OK if the Publisher could choose to make something region free or not.

There is also the natural depreciation in value of games that doesn't happen at all with eshop releases. (The Publishers will get less money overall because certain games I am indifferent to but if it hits a certain price point I will get it).

The Vita to use import releases (With DLC) all you need are 2 memory cards one per region.



moomoo said:

The fact that so few people do it and to barely any degree is exactly why Nintendo should make their system region-free. Since so few people are doing it, Nintendo's need to monitor regions for sales potential won't really matter. Plus, with the way localizations are going, games that are going to come to your region will usually come out soon after the original release, so people are only really going to get games that are not going to their region. If it's going to have an impact on monitoring markets, it will be at most 10,000 people, and that's if the game took over a year to come out in a region and it was already in English.

I've only imported 2 games, but I'm glad I had the option to do so.

There's also other things to keep in mind too. Take, for example, people that move to different regions. We live in a global world, and people's jobs reflect that. Military families in particular.

Also, Damien, your definition of obscure isn't everyone's. A lot of what Atlus puts out has a pretty high pedigree among the RPG community, and a lot of people who speak English aren't able to play a lot of the games that they produce due to a lack of a European branch. Then there's games like EX Troopers, which had a sizable advertising push by Nintendo of Japan; if you were on this website, you probably saw a lot of news on it. There were articles on IGN, Gamespot, Destructoid, etc. and all reposted by forums and sites like GoNintendo. When there's a game that's pretty easy to understand due to its shallowness in the story department, and has zero chance of being localized, it'd be nice to have the option of importing.

Also, with the amount of languages that PAL regions contain, the releases of some games can be hampered due to the space needed for the text. Look at Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward. It didn't get an English voice track that was in the US version since the text from all the different languages took up so much space. That's pretty crappy.

Face it, times have changed drastically in the past 20 years. With the internet, cultures collide and this world is truly global. Just look at all the different nations represented from users on this site. Using an example from the 80s isn't exactly helping your case, especially when a game like "Shadows of the Damned" is available at a local Wal Mart. It is not Nintendo's job to protect its customers from different cultures. If someone is importing a game, they probably know what it's about, and they're also probably an adult, since they have to order games with a credit card or paypal. Frankly, all Nintendo has to do in regards to games from different regions is just have a disclaimer saying that they're not responsible for games released outside their region. That way, if someone breaks a law in regards to buying a game that doesn't comply with their country's laws, Nintendo doesn't have to bother with it.

Just leave it up to the individual publishers on region locking. That way, if they want it, they can enforce it so they can better monitor regions. Look at Persona 4 Arena. But I don't see the point in enforcing it on every game.

By making the system region free, Nintendo will be able to get rid of a lot of the homebrew efforts going on with Nintendo's systems right now and also garner some good PR from it.



Mr_G said:

i live in america and my brother lives in the UK we can never send each other games to swap or presents because of region locking on nintendo's consoles
YEAH IT IS AN ISSUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



darkfenrir said:

Bandai, why won't you release Digimon over here, you have fans here. :T I want to import, but then remember the region lock, I'm sad.

But yeah, I find that region lock is okay, but I somehow want the option to import if I want to.



DualWielding said:

For the last time please, region locking don't have ANYTHING ANYTHING to do with ratings, all european countries have different rating systems but all are in the same Pal region, if ratings was an issue every country will be a different region, don't be fooled by that pathetic excuse.....

Now why Region Locking is a big issue.

1. People who move, from one region to other, for work or study.... I'm from Panama (NTSC) currently an international student in Australia, I have a 3DS from home, I cannot buy games in Australia..... I cannot be the only one in a similar situation....

2. Cheaper Imports... I know many people in Australia that own NTSC 3DS and its not because they want to play games not released in Pal, is because importing from the U.S. and buying form U.S. eshop is cheaper.... Nintendo region locks to support local retailers that would lose sells if everybody went for cheaper imports but how many people do you think won't go for a console that lets them buy from whichever region they like and save them money..

3. Handhelds are supposed to be stuff you take with you on travel and its not rare for people to travel across regions, besides the region locking of the games there's the stupid thing that Nintendo decided to region lock the Charge, I'm preety sure the 3DS is the only portable electronic device for which you need a separate charge for each region, VITA, Laptops, Cell Phones, Ipods, they all you can charge in other regions by simply putting a cheap plug converter over your charger... but no 3DS you need to buy an specific propietary charger for each region, that's beyond comprehension..... In addition you should be able to pick a game while you are traveling in a local store if you are bored......



element187 said:

I support region locking... If we didn't have it, fire emblem US and EU would have been identical... Here in the US our DLC of Tharja has Nowi talking about her boingy bits, the EU version censored that conversation.... Without region locking the game would have been censored to lowest common denominator, which would be the more sensitive to more cultural differences of the EU. Instead of the massive homogenized area of the US that all share 1 culture (Canada pretty much shares relatively the same cultural differences of the USA)

Where as multiple countries in the EU region have completely different cultural differences and sensitivities... Take Germany, they will be requiring Bethsda to do some massive editing of the new Wolfenstein to make it compatible of the anti-nazi in the media laws.... I wouldn't want North America to be lumped in with Germany's sensitivity to media.



InsertTokenz said:

When it comes to region locking on game hardware, I'm not too concerned if said hardware has it or not. Usually all of the games I want on a given platform tend to get released here anyways so I am able to buy and play them with no hassle. I have imported games in the past, but I do realize that it was not a large number of games overall, so the benefits of region lock removal don't seem like much of a big advantage in the grand scheme of it all. Instead of complaining about region locking, the gaming community should be getting vocal about more game localization efforts, as it would certainly be more beneficial to them given the opportunity to play the games they want to without any language/technical barriers to impede the experience.



Tindre said:

If dating sims like love plus came here I wouldn't care, but they don't. :/ I have imported some games for PSP and I would do the same for my 3ds, if I could.

no, they would still do region specific releases.
But let's say for example that I want to buy the US version that is uncensored, I can't now. If region locking was not in place, I could have gotten it since my personal media tolerance is different than the EU would be in that case. Or like Harvest moon for 3ds which is still not out here yet, I could have bought it one year ago when it released in USA instead of just sitting on my donkey and waiting for it.



DerpSandwich said:

Okay, okay, here's the thing. Language locking? Sure. Make it so we can't play Japanese games on our systems. Whatever. But region locking means I can't play a UK game on my US system, despite the fact that the game has already been translated into English. This is an issue that has directly affected me. I have wanted to buy games that have already been translated--they already spent the money on bringing them from Japan--and I haven't been able to. The argument that Nintendo just wants to keep things organized in their regions is silly. They're losing money and we're missing out on games just so things can stay nice and pretty for them.

So the language thing, I understand at least a bit more. The region thing, I don't. Spending the money on translation and not even selling it to one of the world's major markets that speaks that language is pretty ridiculous. Especially now with digital distribution, the least they could do is release these "obscure" games on the eShop.



element187 said:

Looks there 60% feel they do not need to import or at least understand why Ninty does it.... With a small minority calling for region locking to end..., hence why Ninty ignores the silly petition.



gingerbeardman said:

@Lin1876 says everything I wanted to. Great response to a thought provoking piece. Essentially, it's worrying that the article is presented as "fact" and is potebtially misleading those who are new to the issue and yet to make up their own minds about why region locking exists.

I'd only add that I don't import to be part of an elite club, which I find preposterous, but rather simply to play the games I want - when I want. Examples: ExciteBots (Wii, USA), Katamari Damacy (PS2, JP), Guru Logi Champ (GBA, JP), Kururin Paradise (GBA, JP), Ouendan (DS, JP). Games I've exported to friends that were only released in Europe include Pang (DS).

As for the App Store, different regions exist but it's very rare you will find an app that is only available in one region and then it tends to be because of licensing issues to do with media content.



Sleepingmudkip said:

you all have to remember most of the time its 3 party choice to localize also jrpg are very hard and takes months to localize also there is not a big market for jrpg in americas.



AcesHigh said:

Amazing! I wrote almost he exact same article on IGN a couple days ago. Almost word for word. I especially agree with the points about how each branch of Nintendo is responsible for their own revenue (they do operate separately - almost like a Franchise) and the fact that, while we on these gaming usegroups think we carry a loud voice, we actually make up probably .01% of Nintendo's or any other manufacturer's market. The import business is infintesimal compared to the mainstream market. For all the reasons listed in this article. And 10000 signatures is nothing. Having Nintendo change its entire revenue and Business Unit structure around 10000 or even 50000 signatures is most certainly not going to happen.



Ernest_The_Crab said:

@retro_player_22 You haven't figured out why those devices were blocked? It's because of cheating. Especially in the Game Shark's case with all of the games with online competitive modes nowadays.

Personally, I don't care about a lock on physical copies of the games. That makes sense. On the digital side of things, there are a number of ways to control the problems listed in this article (parental controls, region purchased from, listing language limitations/cultural aspects, etc). They could remove the lock for digital versions of the games, especially since it seems that most of the people importing want to play the games and aren't doing it for collection purposes.



theblackdragon said:

Without the region-freedom the GBA and DS provided, i wouldn't be looking forward to picking up a copy of Rhythm Tengoku, i wouldn't have the ability to play the Ouendan games, i wouldn't have the Japanese dictionary and kanji-translation cartridges I have today, and I wouldn't be able to play the copy of Freshly Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland that was given to me by Corbs a few years back. I find fault in the assumption that because you personally don't import a whole lot of games anymore, dropping the region-lock wouldn't be worth it to Nintendo. Couldn't it be argued the same way around? That if so few people are going to import anyway, what's the point of creating all the software-lock hoops in the first place when it would be much easier (and probably more cost-effective) to just release a game and have it play on any available 3DS console, whether EU, NA, or JP, without having to worry about region-based restrictions and whether or not they work properly?

You say region-locking isn't harming them, but how is it helping? Iwata or whoever-it-was said all that BS about cross-country social standards, ratings systems, etc. and so forth, but none of that seemed to bother them a whole lot from the Game Boy all the way up through the DS — the DSi was the first instance of a region-locked handheld console from Nintendo, and sucks to be Japan on that one since they got a whopping one of the four retail DSi titles that came out in its lifespan. all four of those titles were as tame as tame can be, too. what purpose did it serve to lock other countries' residents out from being able to play them? If they want people to buy games from within their own regions, release them all around the same time — or at all, for that matter! why string people along for months with no definite answer either way when you could say 'yes, this is what we're planning' and the majority of the userbase would be 'okay, i'll wait for the release in my native language then'. or, just give them a definite 'nope, sorry' and then we'd either decide to start brushing up on our Japanese or give up on it entirely.

I'd be interested to see the actual numbers on this one. They had a few solid generations of handhelds with no restrictions whatsoever, I'd like to know if having the 3DS on lockdown has really done anything to help within-region sales at retail in comparison to game sales back in the day.

Also, I get the excuse regarding region-locking in terms of making sure that each division of Nintendo gets theirs financially. But if that's the honest-to-goodness truth, I wish Nintendo would just tell us that instead of blaming it on this, that, or the other thing they never cared about before while I was growing up. It's just ridiculous.



TimeGuy said:

I honestly do not care at all about region locking. I've never imported a game and no doubt never will.



coolvw93 said:

For me, I just want to be able to play some of the games that have been released in Japan. For instance, I wouldnt mind getting Dragon Quest X and Ougon No Kizuna. And getting a hold of a japanese wii for me has not been a success so far. I have imported a few, but its only been for the nintendo 64.



Ambassador_Kong said:

Fatal Frame: Crimson Butterfly is forever beyond the reach of American gamers because Reggie thinks he knows what his customers want better than his customers.

One thing no one seems to consider is that importing costs will disappear because of the eshop. Just drop all digital content on the Nintendo World eshop and set costs for each region. This isn't rocket science.



siavm said:

If you have a wii u or 3ds you know going in they were region locked. And nintendo does not move to the beat of Sony or Microsoft. And importing is expensive anyway. It is cheaper just to buy games in your region and if it is not I am sorry for you. Games are wants not needs. We don't need games. We need food we need shelter.



Kirk said:

I can tell you right off the bat that Damien McFerran is kinda missing the whole point.

If there are a LOT of people who are up in arms about region locking then you either remove it, making a lot of people happy in the process it would seem, or you don't do anything about it and you continue to have a lot of negative sentiment and bad press.

Why would any company want that negative sentiment and bad press and why would any company want to give certain consumers ANY reason/excuse to maybe not buy their system, especially Nintendo and especially right now with the dire situation the Wii U is in, when there's really not any particularly great reasons for keeping region locking and you could actually address the issue relatively easily?

How is that EVER good business?

Currently 44% of people want region locking removed vs. 34% who are not bothered either way, so would surely be perfectly happy if it were removed, and 21% who can see Nintendo's point but surely also wouldn't be upset in the slightest if it were removed.

In other words, there's a lot of people who actually want it to go, for various perfectly valid reasons, and basically none who actually want it to stay.

Remove region locking and you have one less thing for gamers, consumers and the press to complain about and be frustrated with and you give some people one more reason to maybe consider purchasing your system or at least one less excuse for not buying it.

It's not rocket science.



theblackdragon said:

@siavm: 'games are wants not needs' is an argument against piracy, not region-locking. I've already got food and shelter, and thankfully i still have a bit of money left over that I'll spend how I please. If Nintendo puts out a game in Japan or Europe and NoA decides we people in North America probably won't buy enough for it to be cost effective for them to release it as well, I'd like the option to be able to import the title. money is still changing hands and Nintendo of JP or EU is being paid fairly, It's no skin off NoA's nose because they weren't going to release it anyway, and there's a good chance it won't be in a language i'll understand easily, but that seemed to work just fine for Nintendo's handhelds up through the DSi.



ricklongo said:

I'm all for consumer options, so I'm very strongly against region locking, even though I almost always buy games from my local retail stores.

I'd never import games from Japan, since I don't speak their language. But, living in South America, I can think of some situations in which I'd like to import games from Europe (see the new Professor Layton, coming to Europe this year but only in 2014 to the Americas). I've also heard of many situations, in the last few months alone, in which Europeans got the shaft and had to wait weeks or months to get some American releases (Fire Emblem: Awakening is the prime example).

So yeah, region locking really should be a practice of the past.



gaby_gabito said:

Look at the Wii U titles released in Japan. Look at the titles released in the U.S. Pretty big difference there if you ask me. I'm tired of seeing so many people on Miiverse complain that we don't have those same games. Apparently there are many people that want to play those games. What would change this? Region-Free.



Samurairu said:

Just because you cannot understand why a restrictive process shouldn't be in place from your narrow minded point of view, doesn't justify it's continued implementation. I feel like I was trolled.



BossBattles said:

Definitely a point of view that needs to be out there to balance out the argument.

I think the biggest point is that the amount of gamers that ACTUALLY would import games is so small that it truly doesn't matter. IF you really want to get certain games like that, you'll go the extra mile.

that is not to say i wouldn't like the system to be region free.



MegaWatts said:

"I actually quite liked the fact that I had to go that extra mile to play Japanese games — it meant buying an expensive console, using a step-down power converter and sometimes even paying an obscene amount to have special leads made which would allow the system to run on UK television sets. You could argue that I simply had more money than sense — and you’d be correct — but at the time it felt like I was part of an elite sector of the gaming community; I bought mysterious new consoles before they were released in the UK and dazzled my friends with unheard of and exotic games."

I think this is a very valid point and it still remains true to this day. One of the things I love about collecting Japanese N64 games is that they're often obscure, because they never released here. Yes, I'm effectively paying a lot of money, but it's worth it to me because it gives me that unique experience.

On the issue itself, I'm with Damien. It really is a non-issue. Not to mention that importing in the UK usually results in a ridiculously high customs tax anyway!



Yawaru said:

I see a whole lot of fluff and not much substance. It's fine if you are of the opinion that you do not want to import but that's a poor basis for an argument that removing region locking is a non-issue. It's a non-issue to YOU is all you're saying. This whole debate basically boils down to choice, do you choose to buy from your region, wait for a localization that may never come, or jump through hoops to import, and who gets to decide what your options are?

Personally, I don't import much, but I do own a few Japanese DS and GBA games, and if there was something that peeked my interest, I would like the option to get it and play it pretty as I please. Just because you had to jump through hoops to import back in the day doesn't mean we should be forced to. They didn't use Novocaine back in the day for dentistry, should we stop using it because you think the pain would build character? That's a sorry excuse.

Fact of the matter is not all games appeal to all people, that doesn't mean you don't release them. And if it's too expensive to localize all games because the company doesn't think they'll see enough of a market in a given area, then why not let the gamers decide to import and translate for themselves? If people decide not to import that's fine, because it's their choice, and they were allowed to make it themselves instead of having some government or corporation decide for them.



Oniros said:

"Region lock isn't a problem because it doesn't affect me because I don't play Japanese imports."

What a poopoo article.



retro_player_22 said:


Well they could block it from the network but don't block it on the actual game. There are some gamers who already finished a certain game and just want to explore more with the game. I can see GameShark being block but why Freeloader? Also Nintendo did not have problem with region lock before the DSi, why now? It's like they simply did it cuz they want control, that to me as a consumer really dropped my interest. You want control, you give me a service, not a product. With the product I bought, I want to do whatever I like with it. It seems Ninty doesn't realize that. The Game Boy line are a product, it seems Ninty really want the 3DS line to be a service instead while pretending that it's still a product.



Damo said:

@gingerbeardman Presented as fact? It clearly states at the start of the feature that this is an opinion piece and the view of a single writer, not the site as a whole. It even says "soapbox" at the top of the page.



Damo said:

@unrandomsam Many Mega Drive games had a region lock actually, titles like Streets of Rage 2 and Castlevania Bloodlines will only play on the region console they were intended for.



TsunamiSensei said:

Patience is a virtue. I'm fine with waiting 1, 2, or even 3 years for a game to get here. If it doesn't get released in my country, I just can't play it. I move on and forget about it. I'm fine with region-locking.



Bulbousaur said:

I want to bring up the Rainfall games again. Because the games were released in English but not released in America for several months, people in those regions would have more reasons to play them through illegal means. Lost sales for NoE and NoA.



ZinogreMaster said:

@Yawaru Well your first point defeats you. Why release when it doesn't appeal to many people? And what if the game is voted to come over, yet its unsuccessful? It would be a large waste of time and they'd go back to their old ways of choosing which games to release since they lost money on letting others vote for them instead of them choosing on their own.



Sceptic said:

It's maybe hot air for the US that always gets their games first and at low prices, while we in Europe wait to be shafted half a year later for twice the price.

You don't understand how markets work, Damien. It's not about how many imports we would buy, it's about what prices would still be viable if those of us that play it in english anyway would be able to buy it in the US.

It's simple market segregation to enforce a price structure where most of Europe pays double on everything. Plus tax. If it's a non-issue, THEN REMOVE IT. Simple as that.



Dpishere said:

I have never imported a game, and though I would like to if a game I want is not available in the US, I probably wouldn't anyway because of the higher prices. Region-locking for me seems to be a non issue, though it looks like it mainly affects European gamers, and while they may want region locking removed in reality there is very little chance of that actually happening.



siavm said:

@theblackdragon the games that did not come here to America are ones I wanted. They were the niche ones. And we get a lot of games all ready. I have a ps3 and have not imported anything. I only have one import game on ds but I can still play it on 3ds. So importing still means nothing to me. Region locking is fine by me. If ps4 was region locked I would still get it next year. So people can complain about it but things will not change.



ShiningCrobat said:

I think the best point that has been made in the comments is that region locking isn't fair to someone who moves out of the region in which they buy the console. Moving from the UK to the US? Well, you'll still have to import all of your games from the UK! But that's just so much fun, isn't it?
Also, how does restricting the access to something make it more exciting for you? That's the same lines that comedians use when making fun of same-sex marriage opponents. That's how the CEO of Abercromie tried to defend not selling clothes to fat people.



unrandomsam said:

@element187 America is pretty sensitive to certain things. (Try making a war game where America is the enemy). That sort of stuff is totally ok in Japan. (Fairly reasonable it is only a game).



Yawaru said:

@ZinogreMaster first, explain how not region locking would entail any extra cost on the producer's end? I'll help you, it doesn't, the consumer foots the extra bill to import. The idea that companies would lose money by making their products available to a wider audience is ridiculous and wrong. My point stands, let consumers spend money the way they want, and opening up more options simply encourages more spending.



unrandomsam said:

@ShiningCrobat There is other situations at the moment breaking the region lock and enabling piracy are about as difficult. If you remove the region lock then you stop a certain highly skilled subsection of hackers from being bothered.



AJWolfTill said:

The only time when this could have been an issue with me was regarding the Zero Escape games. While the first one was never released in Europe, the PAL DS thankfully had no issue in playing it, if Virtue's Last Reward had not been localised in Europe then I would have been devastated, but perhaps the presence of region locking was the only reason it was localised here in the first place. Also, I was originally frustrated about the lack of English Voice Acting in VLR but I grew to love the Japanese voice actors anyway.



DreamOn said:

I like this Soapbox article good idea good work, NL. It's all about the reaction here.

Nintendo is empowering its regional/foreign operations with region-locked media. Obviously these regional operations rely on management structures dissimilar to MS and Sony's.



JuanitoShet said:

I've never imported a single game. I've onlt ever owned ONE imported game, which I bought from a friend... for the GAME BOY. (Wario Land). But that's it.

I don't really care about region-locks, 'cause like you've said, I have more than enough games, both retro and modern, that I can purchase here in my area.



gojiguy said:

"these days publishers have become really good at making sure western gamers get localised versions of the best games Japan can offer."




unrandomsam said:

Even just another certificate (Nintendo sign the game to be region free then it is ok) and let the producer of the game decide. (All first party stuff would be region locked but it is fairly certain it will be released anyway (Physical as well as digital) so that is not a problem.)

There is loads of Famicom games on the 3DS Virtual Console in Japan I wouldn't mind getting. (There is loads of wii VC Arcade and PC Engine games that you could never get outside Japan including some of the best ones).

Whether it is a none issue depends on what you want to play. (Contra IV is probably my favourite DS game I bought (US Import) it but if I couldn't have played it legitimately I would have played it however I could.)



Sleepingmudkip said:

i dont get why people would pay 80-90$ just to import a game and not many know that jrpg are not a big seller in america and most japanese games are insesitive to america and europe saying and showing things that people would get mad over remember when pokemon cards and tv shows showed stuff that made people mad thats why they keep some games exclucive to some areas. but that my statment and i stand by it.(sorry for spelling)



Scrent said:

I completely disagree with this article. I don't think Elite Beat Agents would even exists if not for the Ouendan series getting so much attention globally. I guess this also could be said about Phoenix Wright that was released on japan with english translation already.
I can see the damage of region-free games discouraging publishers to bring games to a market specially on the europe / america since both use the same english translation. But be impossible to play games that I want when no one is gonna make a attempt to bring those games is really frustrating.
I can list a good amount of games that I would have bought if not for the impossibility of playing it without some sort of hack or import a new console and that is sad.



SCAR said:

Maybe they just shouldn't translate the games and release them anyway. It costs a one time fee to publish across all regions, right? All the company would have to do, is get the appropriate rating.
Just release a Japanese game on the eShop without a translation.



SCAR said:

As for the topic, I don't care at all. I've never imported much of anything. I don't want to play a game that's not in English.
I would play some of those games, but it's not worth importing for inflated prices.



AlternateButtons said:

I completely agree with this article. I don't care for importing, nor do I care for simultaneous worldwide releases. What Nintendo needs to do is improve there NoA and NoE branches to localize more games because it allows for greater profit. See, Sony and Microsoft have the room to drop region locking because they aren't JUST a video game company. Nintendo on the other hand, needs to have these other branches to maximize its profits and region locking would completely kill these branches.



DualWielding said:

That's not how it works, when an Australian pays 70 instead of 40 for Mario Kart 7, Nintendo is not making extra 30 bucks, the extra money goes to the distributor, the local retailer and the Australian government in taxes and import
duties, Nintendo loses money because if players could save those extra 30 bucks they could expend it on another Nintendo game



gingerbeardman said:

@Damo you're right, I should have worded it differently. I don't think it was clear enough, judging by some of the comments here. Eg. #31



Kagamine said:

I don't see why this is such a big deal. If anybody wants to import games they are probably willing to go through the effort of unlocking their console. I won't go into methods but it's not even that hard to do. If importing means so much to you just take the extra step and put some more effort into it.

I've imported games for multiple systems before and the region locking isn't hard to get around. Most people will never feel the effects of region locking, just those that are involved in the community like the patrons of this site. Most of us have the knowledge on how to get around region locking and/or we have another console and don't feel short on releases.



ueI said:

Most of my foreign games were ones I bought while on vacation. Buying from another region doesn't necessarily involve exorbitant shipping costs.



Onion said:

@Lin1876 and Kirk both hit the nail directly on the head and have taken the words right out of my mouth. Damien is missing the point. Many games never see a US release. One need look no further than the popular Tales franchise, which only has around a dozen or so US releases. It also doesn't take into account that there are people (such as myself) who are hardcore collectors and may at times want multiple versions of the same game. Either for collector value or because of removed content or censoring. No good comes from needlessly restricting gamers and even if a Japanese title does get a release, it is unlikely to stop anyone (even those who have knowledge of Japanese) from buying a translated version. I own several imports (mostly from the Langrisser and Fire Emblem series) myself and the majority of the games I imported never saw a US or EU release, with the exception of Langrisser which was released for the Genesis/Mega Drive as Warsong. Even then, Warsong had some notable changes. Unreleased Japanese games have been a constant issue for US gamers. With some games (Such as Rent a Hero No 1) it's clear they weren't released because of low production values, but many games (Such as Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu or Rockman & Forte) were left in Japan despite being well developed and popular. To this day Seisen no Keifu has never seen a release outside of Japan, leaving many US players wondering who the hell "Seliph" and other characters are.

While it's true that more and more games are being released in the US and EU, it doesn't change the fact there will always be games that will remain unreleased in the US. Region locking just forces people to find workarounds and even now people still find new ways to remove the region locking from the NES and SNES. It's the same story with modern system with games like Xenoblade eventually getting a release, but due to price gouging the game is much cheaper to import. The Tales series is also still an issue with games either not being released at all, or being swapped to different consoles such as the PS3. In fact, Tales of Vesperia got an updated release in Japan for the PS3 and despite empty promises from Namco, PS3 owners in the US never received it, forcing Vesperia to remain an Xbox 360 exclusive in America and robbing US and EU owners of additional content. Fortunately, from what I understand the PS3 isn't region locked, so people can at least import a copy.



Kagamine said:

@Gridatttack Currently the WiiU is the only console I own that I can't unlock, but given some recent efforts I've seen I can't imagine it taking to much longer. The 3DS has an unlock method that's not all that popular right now though, it's still a bit buggy.



Onion said:

The Wii U will no doubt eventually be unlocked. Doing so would likely void your warranty however.



EaZy_T said:

The more that people know of the reasons behind RLing, and have an understanding of them, the more I hope that this pointless debate becomes the non-issue that it is.
The folks that a RL might legitimately effect are very few, I can really only come up with international travelers.
It's funny that there are people who are happy to play a story based game and not understand it, just pressing A to get to the end.

I really enjoyed your background with importing; the days of it actually being exciting are gone with the internet and "click to buy" instead of the extra work that one would have to do in that bygone era.



Sceptic said:

People that comment should state if they are from the US. I understand that in the US, you may feel RL is a non issue. But that is because European consumers are picking up the tab for your $40 games with their $80 games.

Cartels and market segregation always lead to higher prices for consumers at no added value. Just because as a US consumer you're lucky to be on the winning end should't blind you on the entire issue.

RL is a tool to rip off certain regions with higher prices while bending to increased competition in others with lower ones. They simply would not do it if there was no money to be made off it.



AlternateButtons said:

@ferthepoet I wasn't saying that. I was saying the money the localization branch would be getting by localizing a game would be lost due to region free. In Australia, everything is more expensive. That's your governments problem, not Nintendos.



Chikiro said:

I don't understand why local multiplayer is regionlocked. For example, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate 3DS has local multiplayer but it's region locked, why? I can't play with my friends because they all have EU version and I have NA one. Streetpass of some games is regionlocked too. People nowadays travel a lot and region separation is a stupid old-fashioned thing.



unrandomsam said:

@gojiguy Yep that is absolute nonsense.

@EaZy_T You are assuming that story based games are the only ones worth playing. (At least portably the last thing I want to do is watch the game and not play it). In fact I would say most story based games are awful.

@Sceptic Japan gets all the games worth having and a fair amount of the ones I would want to play portably the story doesn't matter at all. (And most of the best ones are considered too hard for a Western Audience.). I don't see how me paying the lower eshop price for Kokuga is going to be good for the developer either than Japanese retail price + import duty + middleman. (Those are the best type of games for me (At least for playing on a small screen) and the only ones I like enough to pay full retail for.) Dunno how well Kokuga did in Japan but it could have done badly because of being on the wrong console. (Not PSP where the rest of those type of games are). Not sure about the money thing because unlike most companies Nintendo doesn't do things that are 100% in the best interest of itself all the time. (They have enough in the back catalog to offer something as good as or better than anything in the eshop indie stuff at all price points).



hYdeks said:

I buy the game in my own region. To the people complaining that the game should come out the same time in all regions, go back to the NES/SNES days, than continue to complain. SMB3 came out in 1988 in Japan, and 1990 in NA, and Europe got it in 1991, almost 1992!! So releases in different regions has gotten WAY better than they where previously. What's that saying, "Patience is a virtue"? Yay, practice it a little more lol.



unrandomsam said:

@Guitardude7 That is not it at all. The region thing is not a problem for Australia you can import from the US with no import duty very easily it is a very high amount before you pay any. (You can get stuff like laptops without paying anything). The wages are the highest in the world as well as it being quite well supplied. It is a total obvious thing for any Australian to import everything.



Shambo said:

With the ds i got MANY ntsc games that never came to Europe. 999, Dementium2, Mega Man Zero Collection, Dark Spire, Tokyo Beat Down... the list goes on. Now there are indeed some less un-localized games in English, but there are some not that text heavy Japanese ones I'd want really bad, and others that definitely need translation. Need, as in REALLY BADLY NEED.



nilcam said:

Region locking the 3DS is the most backwards thing Nintendo has done yet. Half of my DS collection is imported, either from the U.K. or Japan. This back pedal also doesn't make any sense. Sure, if a game is available in my region, I'll buy it there but the truth is that a lot of game series I love are never released in the west. For example, I play every SD Gundam G Generation title that is released. On the GBA, DS, PSP and Vita, that is no problem. RL is the reason I bought a Vita before buying a 3DS. If the Vita had a healthier library, I'd not own a 3DS. The game library is the only reason I own 2 3DS systems. It's a waste of money but I wanted access to import titles.

From a publisher standpoint, region locking costs a few import sales that would help with their bottom lines. More importantly, removing RL also removes my desire to hack systems. I've never had the desire to hack my PS3 but I did hack my Wii and, in all honesty, that did cost Nintendo some Virtual Console sales. I already own a ton of classic games and, if my system is hacked and I can play the ROMs rather than buying new copies, I will.

Hell, even Blu Rays have adopted a better region system.



taffy said:

Speaking from a PAL area, I really wanted Excitebots and Kirby's 20th anniversary collection. I don't see how removing region locks will effect Nintendo's relationship with their trade partners as most people will opt for the local option cause of P&P, but if my only option to get a certain game is from another region I should be able to play that game if I have purchased said item legitimately!



ejamer said:

I didn't much care about game systems being region free until Wii. But I lost a lot of confidence in Nintendo of America releasing games that I want to play after Xenoblade almost didn't come out in North America - despite being fully translated by NoE. The Last Story and Pandora's Tower weren't released by Nintendo here, only made available thanks to the efforts of XSEED - and even then made available extremely late in the console lifecycle. Pikmin 2 saw excessive delay, and let's not even talk about the Fatal Frame series.

Is region locking enough to prevent me from buying a console? No. But the ability to import does matter.

Nintendo of America lost my trust when they proved to be so risk averse that they wouldn't even release well-respected games that were already translated - despite having nothing else on the release schedule.



Yanchamaru said:

Region locking increases piracy and prevents people from importing games at lower prices. It only benefits local distributors who can control the prices. I have absolutely no idea why any consumer would support this crap.



Lunapplebloom said:

Neither here nor there on the issue. I would prefer to have a console be region free though, but I don't see it as a make or break issue. I don't usually import that much, but when I did it was on my DS with Tingle's Rosey Ruppeland Land, and Tingles Baloon fight from Europe and Japan respectively. I also imported the Starfy games on GBA since I didn't need english to understand what was going on.

So if there is a console I think that should still be region free, it should be the 3DS to me, since they always had it region free before for handhelds. To me, that was a big step backwards.



dolabla said:

We should definitely have the option to play any game from any region. I'm disappointed Nintendo won't change their stance on this.

Just like I ordered the Biohazard HD Revival Selection (Asia version) for my PS3. I got it because you can't buy it here in the US (you can only get Resident Evil 4 and Code Veronica on Playstation Store; digital download only), you can only get in Asian countries. I much prefer owning physical disc copies of games than digital downloads.

That's where a region free console would really come in handy.



Ducutzu said:

Thanks Damien for bringing some common sense into the discussion. By the way, your other article about Starfox (recently published on a certain website) was a great read.



Dpullam said:

I personally don't mind region-locking since I only buy games from my region anyway. I can understand Nintendo's reasons for having the feature in the first place but I certainly wouldn't mind seeing it go. I've never bought a game from a different region so I really don't have an issue with this myself. This sucks for those that do though. I can understand where they are coming from, but hopefully a strong amount of games will be released worldwide so we don't have to worry about region locking in the first place. I can't see Nintendo changing their stance anytime soon on this matter since they have been using region locking for a good amount of years. I also wouldn't expect Nintendo to remove region-locking just because Microsoft and Sony did since Nintendo seems to march to the beat of their own drummer, which I approve of. I guess time will tell. I like seeing articles like these on this website. Stirs up debate and discussions.



Stuffgamer1 said:

"While this argument held weight about a decade ago, these days publishers have become really good at making sure western gamers get localised versions of the best games Japan can offer. As I said before, unless the game you’re hankering for is super, super obscure, there’s an excellent chance that it will be brought to the west at some point. "

Except for Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland, Bomberman Story DS, Bomberman 2 (terrible European title...the DS game), Last Window...all pretty big names, and NONE of them released in America, forcing me to import them all. Hudson had problems with localization for some reason, and Nintendo just have their heads up their butts half the time lately. I WANTED to play the Wii sequel to Trace Memory, but region locking prevented it.

As for your argument that importing could screw up sales of locally released games...yes, that's POSSIBLE, but for the very informed gamer, unlikely. The ONLY game I've ever imported that eventually released in America was Colour Cross, and the local release took over TWO YEARS. At that point, I had no reason to believe we'd ever get it, so I imported it instead.

Funny thing, though...I'm right there with you on PS3. Never imported a thing for it. But I think that boils down to Sony having much more faith in games doing well overseas than Nintendo does. Everything I want actually releases here, which is simply not the case with Nintendo. THAT'S why I want Nintendo to get rid of their BS region locking.



Relias said:

While region locking makes no difference to me personally.. (I like supporting US shops.. and unless my system also comes with a translator.. since I would most likely be getting games out of Japan.. like say Dragonquest.. I can just wait.. I like being able to understand what the people are saying and reading the menu's without a translation book/dictionary.. thank you) I do see why people would want it.. and why Nintendo should most likely do it.. now XBONE and PS4 both have a leg up on Nintendo.. and well the Wii U is already on life support at best.. So in this case.. I would advise Nintendo to do it... they are already behind in Hardware.. and most likely.. will be soon enough in games.. and sells.. of next gen consoles.. they don't need to be behind in this as well..



warvad said:

Region locking will never be an issue because the systems (eventually) can be hacked to play any region's games.

Nintendo is giving people an incentive to pirate, and then whining about the repercussions.



Digital-Deviant said:

I think region locking a handheld is rather unfair - I used to travel with my old DS and have on more than one occasion have bought new games on my travels!



Squiggle55 said:

Your arguments are very contradictory. 1)Why bother getting rid of region locks, hardly anyone does it. 2)We can't get rid of region locks, all of the lost sales will hurt Nintendo UK.

I have never imported a single game, but arguing in favor of region locking as if it benefits the consumer is just as asinine as the people who recently argued in favor of Microsoft blocking used games. Obviously region locking gives Nintendo a bit more control of its image globally and allows them to monitor how sales of various branches are doing, but this has nothing to do with the consumer, and the consumer is right to ask not to be treated like that.



Tony_342 said:

Region locking is anti-consumer. It's incredibly selfish and ignorant to say it's a "Non-Issue" because it doesn't affect you, personally. It's fine to say you don't care, but to say it doesn't matter? Ridiculous.

And to anyone here who actually supports region locking:
"I support region locking" = "I enjoy having fewer consumer rights."

Don't you think it's incredibly strange to actually WANT to have your rights taken from you?



kereke12 said:

I don't think it's that important, but yeah it would be nice if the Nintendo, did region unlocked for "ALL there consoles.



swordx said:

I imported Tingle from EU. It is my favorite DS game. If the DS was region locked, I wouldn't be able to play it.



link3710 said:

I love my UK copy of Last Window: The Secret of Cape West. In general though, the few games I want that are Japan exclusive (AAI2, Ace Attourney vs. Professor Layton, Touch Detective 3), are pretty much unplayable as I don't know Japanese.



SCAR said:

I don't think people realize that in reality, everyone wants Nintendo to be region-free, but that is not a good enough reason to ignore the reasons why it is that way in the first place.



Doma said:

Absolutely inexplicable to bother defend this, from the consumer's perspective . What were you thinking?.. i'm sure you must be aware that only the hardcore/ignorant Nintendo fanboys are agreeing with you here.



brianvgplayer said:

I'm not a fan of region locking, especially on portables. PAL/NTSC is also a non issue for portables and newer consoles since most EU games now support 60 Hz. I like being able to play games like Eschatos on the US 360, Kururin Paradise on US GBA, and Ouendan on US DS. I also import games for older systems like Super Fantasy Zone for Mega Drive and Super Pinball 2 for SNES. I plan to import Last Window from EU since I like Hotel Dust quite a bit. Not all imports are expensive either and some are actually cheaper than their US counterparts.

I also like it when the region locking is easy to bypass like with the US SNES. All it takes is removing two tabs from the cart slot. Genesis is trickier because some games are locked, so a region switch was installed. I also like how all Saturn needs is an Action Reply to bypass region protection. With Famicom, I imported the system due how the US system isn't wired for the extra sound chips in some games. I imported the JP SMS since it can play most US games with an adapter (exceptions being some games with unfinished FM sound, which aren't blocked from Mark III without FM, and a couple light gun games, which play but don't detect the gun), it can play SG-1000 games, it came with a couple of games that got better JP versions, and has FM sound (which even some western games have built in). The US system is fine for most first party (and some third party) EU games (most of which play fine and even run at the same speed as their GG counterparts on US systems), though.



k8sMum said:


care to elucidate as to why you think this article is 'stupid'? personally, i disagree with the article: i believe region locking is unnecessary and anti-consumer. i don't praise nintendo for marching to its own drummer on this any more than i do on their tying accounts to hardware rather than a person.

what are you reasons?



CrimsonMoonMist said:

Persona 4 Arena didn't come out until around 6 months after the US release,
as it happened, it is one of the few PS3 games that is region-locked.
Comparatively, I'm a huge Atlus and Arc system works fan, and both developers have a bad track record when it comes to EU releases.



Nareva said:

I didn't find your arguments in the article very compelling, especially when you said you rather liked having to jump through hoops and spend a whole lot of money to play imports. I've never imported a game and honestly I'm not likely to start doing so, but region locking is anti-consumer and I want it gone.



GearsOfWarU said:

I could care less ... I've never purchased an imported game ... And have no plans to do so in the future



crazyj2312 said:

It's never really been a thing for me since most of the games I've liked have come out in NA. But the 3DS era has made Nintendo a huge tease since they have games like E.X. Troopers and now MH4 on the way for Japan only. It took them forever and a week to bring over MH3U and even then nobody was sure they would do it so it's a wonder if those games will ever make it.

I feel like the best thing they did to combat (a part of) this issue of region locking for really cool games was offering downloads of full games off of the eShop. Without the need to produce cartridges less money would be spent and nobody has to worry about it being out of stock. Like the Guild games and and the next Ace Attorney found life on the eShop and I feel if the Duel Destinies does well, they'll think about making games like E.X. Troopers eShop games to save money in the western market.



Drewroxsox said:

Naturally, people want what they can't have. Region locking may be "a problem", but if the Wii U and 3ds were region free, how many people would actually take advantage of it? Sure it would be nice if Nintendo consoles were region free, but I'm not bothered that they are region locked.



MagicEmperor said:

Off the top of my head, there are only two games that I bought that were never released in America. They are Last Window (Hotel Dusk sequel) and Fatal Frame 4. Last Window was a cinch, because the DS was of course wasn't locked. Fatal Frame 4, now that's a horse of a different color.

While I have bought games from outside my region, they're very few and far between. And I will say I will get Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney no matter what. Even if it means buying it from a different region. My wallet's crying at the thought.



daveh30 said:

I love the idea of importing games, but in reality I've never had any reason to. I honestly cant name a single game on any current system that I want that I can't buy locally. The only one I can think of that I ever would have looked to import would have been the original SMB2, but I was 6 or 7 years old at the time, and I dont think I even realised that we had gotten a different version in NA until I played the lost levels on SM All-Stars...



ZinogreMaster said:

I don't see how people hack systems. Not to bash hackers, cos its pretty cool what you do, and there ARE a lot of advantages to hacking systems (Like no region locking.). But i feel there are too many risks to hacking, as getting caught and going to jail. Also, developers don't particularly like it when a system is hacked because of piracy reasons. Piracy kills systems, drops sales for developers, and makes them not want to develop any more games for that system. I just think the trade off isn't a fair one, especially for us that don't hack, especially if a developer we really love wont develop any more games for that system, but that's just my 2 cents no one's telling you guys to stop, just consider.



Brother_Jolteon said:

I only import games that have no hope of being released worldwide, like BLEACH HEAT THE SOUL series or Tag Force 3 (wasn't released in america) and Tag Force 6. I almost imported the Eureka Seven AO game on PS3 but the gameplay was horrible.



HeatBombastic said:

@Lin1876 "Just because something has always happened does not mean it needs to keep happening"

Damien didn't say he was against no region-lock.

What you said could be applied backwards. Just because something could end, doesn't mean it has to end. Whether Nintendo removes region-locking or not, it won't make too much of a difference since this isn't too much of an issue for most people.



HaNks said:

very rationally put why it isn't such a big deal. i'm not too fussed either way, but if i had to choose to have the extra choice or not i would certainly opt for it. as it's mainly enthusiasts of niche titles doing the importing, i can't see how it's disruptive to their business.



ichigo62 said:

Mehhhh, just remove the region-lock really, no need to discuss it anymore

Customers WANTS no-region lock
Seller PROVIDEs it

Customers are king



unrandomsam said:

@Damo Streets of Rage 2 (PAL) runs as Bare Knuckle 2 on a Jap Megadrive. (Works like Neo Geo where the console it is determines it) Dunno about Bloodlines.



kenzo said:

Region locking on the 3ds is discrimination - Consumer discrimination.

The Japanese should realise how disrespectful this practice is to others, since they have their own region locked fiefdom, and are doing very nicely without the rest of the world - thank-you.

If region locking is a "total non issue" as claimed by the author, then why doesn't Nintendo get rid of it. Its simply because region locking is filling Nintendo's money bags despite all the hassles involved.



unrandomsam said:

@Andrewroxsox Not enough Wii U games I care about yet to make a decision but I will probably get a USA one even though I am in the UK.

3DS I have a UK one but most of the games I actually play are DS imports (Either Jap or USA - Contra 4 / Ketsui Death Label). When it comes to something like Kokuga I would have imported it a year ago. (At full Japanese price + import duty + whatever the middleman wants). It is good for me at the moment I will get it for a low price but don't think it will last.



unrandomsam said:

@kenzo Yeah but stuff that is never going to leave Japan then Nintendo just won't get whatever cut of it they would have. (I want Hudson Selection Vol.2 - Star Soldier for the Gamecube but I dunno what I am going to do about it yet, I am going to play it might just get an NTSC-J wii - Get the Neo Geo VC I want on it as well and the few pc engine things I want that I cannot get in PAL Might get Ultimate Shooting Collection 2 as well because it is pretty cheap). For me my main problem is finding games I want to play. (There are some I want in English most of the time I don't care). Even more so for the 3DS because carrying more than one 3DS about is the last thing I want to be doing.



Nekogao said:

I'd imagine it's only a very small minority of users but what about those of us who live in a different country? I'm British and always bought the UK versions of games.

5 years ago I started working in Japan. I bought a 2nd hand Japanese DS. I can speak passable Japanese and so most titles would present little problem. But text-heavy RPGs would prove a real slog in Japanese so I had the option to import these titles from the US.

The 3DS is the first time it has chosen to region-lock a handheld and it doesn't make ANY sense. More and more people are moving around the world and the 3DS is a portable gaming machine. I have bought a 3DS, though it's taken the English release of Animal Crossing and the internet to get the best out of the game. If I leave Japan and return to the UK, my best option would be to sell my system and all the games and buy a new system if I want to keep buying new games. Is that really a good way of treating your loyal customers, Nintendo?

These days I generally only buy Nintendo hardware and Nintendo-developed games as an endless parade of shooters and racing games doesn't really appeal to me. I don't intend to jump to the Vita anytime soon but Nintendo's u-turn on this issue really frustrates me.



Dyltheman said:

As a huge shmup fan (which doesent require any knowledge of japanese beyond navigating menu's) importing has been essential for me this gen, glad the xbox one is region free as I had to import a 360 for the slew of shmups that will never make it elsewhere. There's really no valid arguments contained in the article other than those which are blatantly anti-consumer.



McHaggis said:

In one paragraph you point out that, 'Publishers might be reluctant to spend cash on producing region-specific versions if they know that consumers can simply import the title from overseas'. In the very next you continue with, 'The vast majority of gamers who plough their cash into the global interactive entertainment industry would never even consider buying a game from outside of their respective territory.'

The latter completely contradicts the former point. You're saying that the number of people who would consider importing is insignificant, which counters most of the points you make in the whole article. If we're insignificant, we're not going to impact sales that much.

Also, the paragraph about territorial marketing doesn't make much sense. If NoE advertise a game on TV, why would somebody order it to arrive from another country? You said yourself, there's no difference between regional games these days; they all run at the same speed and same resolution. In fact, ordering the game from another country will take longer to arrive, so it may not be worth it at all in most cases.

One thing you didn't even mention is that people who are on the fence for their next console of choice. When they see the features stack up against competing consoles, they could be put off by the fact that the Wii U isn't region free when all competing consoles are. If additional hardware sales were made by making the console region free, surely that would offset any loss cause by software importers in certain regions.

Something else you missed was convenience. It's not all about ordering a game from Play Asia so that I can get it much earlier. I may be on holiday and want to pick up a game to take back home, or play on the return flight on my 3DS.

At the end of the day, it's about consumer choice. As consumers, we have a right to make our voices heard and, when the discussion is about improving choice for everyone, we should all stand together to improve the chances, whether the cause would benefit us as individuals or not. Help out your fellow gamers by supporting their cause.



Ren said:

thank you Damo, this was great, much needed perspective and mirrors my own experience.
I was also a big importing nerd back in my youth and find it a dead art now. There is just so much on hand now that not waiting a bit for something seems ridiculous to me (especially in a language you don't understand, when that applies).
A lot of people talk about it who don't actually import anything too. People just want the "option" to, but seriously, how often do you really do it AND it's worthwhile? no one is going to outright refuse to buy a WiiU just because it only plays games in their home country, give me a break.



MAB said:

Region locked 4 lyfe baby

I'm certain that 99% of PSOne owners will never need to buy a Japanese game because they make terrible FPS dudebrofests.



WesCash said:

Anything I'm interested in comes to North America, so I could not care less about region locking. I have enough games to play without the need to import obscure titles from overseas. I don't get the uproar over region locking. People just like to complain.



mullen said:

On the one hand, you say nobody need that, but on the other hand, you say that if region free, there will be a big impact to Nintendo or game manufacturers. Your one reason is against you another reason. Actually, it's true that only few player need that, so region-free can't be a big impact. But meanwhile, it's important for those few players, who are more likely to be die hard players that region-free will not harm Nintendo but only make them buy more games. Also, you said it's games in different regions are released nearer at this time, but meanwhile, you also say that if players buy games from one region, they will not buy games from another region when it get localized. If they really can and work hard to make games released simultaneously at different region, than they don't need to worry about anything. But the reality is for lots of games, they can't, or even they may not release then in other regions at all. So, buying games from different regions are still necessary. Just check all the games mentioned in this site, especially each weeks sales chart in Japan, and count how many games on that charts released on 3DS that not and may never released in other regions. If localization can't help (you can't deny that if you're not blind), why not region-free.



Pahvi said:

Just adding my thoughts with some examples.
1) (Against region lock) We Cheer 2 was released in the US but not in Europe. The same for Castle of Shikigami 3. How about Shiren the Wanderer? Excitebots? These all are, actually, games I believe I would've bought. There probably are more similar games that I just don't know.
2) (For region lock) Take Taiko no Tatsujin, which had, I understand, many tracks from various anime and so on. Same would apply to Happy Dance Collection. I don't know how the music licensing actually goes, but if it were expected that the game would end up being sold all over the world rather than just in one region, would the licensing prices go up?
3) Competition between regional publishers. US vs EU based publishers and localizers - right now, they might be described as having separate sandboxes. Which ones would survive if they all shared the same sandbox and how would the selection of localized games change? Less localized in German, Italian and French? (I admit to not knowing much if anything on this part of games industry, so I'll just point this out as a relevant question.)
4) I watched a video log on YouTube in which the vlogger said how Japanese shmups on XBox360 (boxed releases) are sometimes region free - but importing them to the US is a very expensive proposition (in the vein of $80). How about giving the game publishers the option of releasing the game without region locking? (I probably still wouldn't import games for that price - 20€ is about the limit I'm willing to pay for any game right now. Obviously, I haven't been buying many console games lately.)
5) Regionally adjusted prices (in part due to different taxation etc). Game pricing - where $1 == 1€ or even more (looking at DKCR prices on, and



ichigo62 said:

if this is A NON ISSUE, then why do you have it in the first place ??, i don't play almost every NA releases, because they are suck, maybe 1 or 2.

You want to KEEP the region-lock crap, FINE, then release all the 3ds games from japanese to NA and EU. ANd stop flaming me "dude its not the nintendo, its the dev the bla bla bla", i don't care, i have money to give you so provide me goods.

The truth is = MONEY, you want people to buy another 3ds handheld just for a particular title. Ughh thank god there are many best free mmorpgs out there.



FineLerv said:

Welcome to the Internet, where kids hear about some supposed injustice that they think is a personal attack on themselves and so lash out in typical knee-jerk fashion. It's all just really about the false sense of entitlement that young people have these days.



Angered_Pegasus said:

Region lock is fine by me, provided we get the games released in US and EU. — Which is not the case now.

Edit: I quote Damien McFerran: "The vast majority of gamers who plough their cash into the global interactive entertainment industry would never even consider buying a game from outside of their respective territory. "

Hmm, this is not the impression I get when I see people's comments on games such as "Tomodachi collection", "Fantasy Life", or Shin Megami Tensei IV (TBA forever in EU region)...

Edit2: @Kirk: I agree 100%



Pahvi said:

@ichigo62 (and others who might know the answer): Does Nintendo make money selling their latest consoles (and console only)? (I don't know - that's why I'm asking.) I hear that usually consoles are sold at a loss - but also that Wii was an exception to this rule. Furthermore, if I had several Wii for different regions, I'd still buy only at most one copy of each game that were available on multiple regions (think Marios, Metroids, Zeldas, MySims and so on). As such, Nintendo wouldn't get as much revenue as game license costs per each additional sold console as they did with the first console for the one consumer in question.

In short, I understand that the revenue due to selling additional consoles per consumer is a pittance of that of the first console. If the console was originally sold at a loss, the console manufacturer might not break even if not enough additional games were bought.

Feel free to substitute Nintendo and Wii with the hardware manufacturer and the console of your choice. And correct me wherever I'm wrong.



RedYoshi999 said:

You raise some valid points, but they only apply to UK/US gamers importing games from Japan. For me, living in Australia, I would love the option to buy games from the US eShop, because they are up to 50% cheaper sometimes! While it's not exactly a region lock issue, (as region free consoles still have the same prices) pricing in certain countries does become a major problem when region locks are in place. If I was to buy an imported US Wii U or 3DS, I would actually save hundreds of dollars, just because their games are so much cheaper!
So that's why I don't necessarily agree with your views in this article.



Sean_Aaron said:

I'm going to side with Damo in the "don't really care" camp and say that whilst being able to run Japanese games on my PAL Wii would have been nice, importing a Japanese Wii wasn't that difficult (or expensive), so I didn't suffer the lack of a region-free Wii (in fact you can still find my import guide on this very site).

The games I do import don't require knowledge of Japanese and I'd rather see games localised than play something like Chibi Robo or Captain Rainbow (which I imported and then sold practically unplayed) using a walk through. Ultimately I think demonstrated interest through online campaigns may be the solution to the localisation issue and with Miiverse we've already demonstrated that fans will be heard. So think positive!



bjmartynhak said:

And what about people that are moving out? Should they start importing new games or buy a new console just because the region locking?



belmont said:

The Hz problem is now solved but the problem of game availability remains. I am an rpg player and there are many of them on PSP and DS that never left America to Europe so I never played them. This is 2013 not 1990. Why is it so hard to release rpg games in all regions even if we talk only about digital releases?

Of course I could import some PSP games but I didn't, waiting to give my money to a EU publisher but nothing happened. I would easily buy a psn release of many of those games and I ended buying some of them second hand (Legend of Heroes Gagharv trilogy for example). As far as DS is concerned I bought a minority of US only rpg that were imported from local shops.

3DS is region locked for some stupid reason and there is still problem with j-rpg availability with many games skipping EU or getting released more that a year later. SMT4 is an example. We have no idea when we will play it in EU, I won't import it but I don't have the option to do that I did with DS/PSP.

In the end the problem, excluding the Persona 4 Arena fiasco, seems to have been solved in PS3 when many recent rpgs get published almost simultaneously on both retail and digital. On Vita the situation is unclear yet. Persona 4 was very delayed.



Shinta125 said:

@Sean_Aaron Then I guess we all should start petitioning:

List of 3DS games that are region exclusive (borrowed from NeoGAF)

03/24/11 - Gundam the 3D Battle
07/07/11 - Class of Heroes 3D
08/04/11 - Nazo Waku Mansion
09/22/11 - Senran Kagura: Portrait of the Girls
10/27/11 - Brave Company
10/27/11 - Mameshiba
11/02/11 - Slime Mori Mori Dragon Quest 3: Daikaizoku to Shippodan
11/03/11 - Azito 3D
12/01/11 - Crayon Shin-Chan Uchuu de Acho Yuujou no Oba-karate
12/15/11 - Inazuma Eleven Go
12/15/11 - Moe Moe Daisensou * Gendaiban 3D
12/15/11 - Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-kun Special
12/15/11 - Penguin no Mondai Saikyou Penguin Densetsu!
12/15/11 - Puyo Puyo!! 20th Anniversary
12/22/11 - SD Gundam G Generation 3D
01/19/12 - Beyond the Labyrinth
01/26/12 - Zoo Keeper 3D
02/14/12 - New Love Plus
03/01/12 - Doraemon: Nobita to Kiseki no Shima
03/08/12 - Girls RPG: Cinderellife
03/08/12 - Hatsune Miku and Future Stars: Project Mirai
03/15/12 - If I Were in a Sealed Room with a Girl, I'd Probably XXX
04/26/12 - Dynasty Warriors VS
05/31/12 - Dragon Quest Monsters Terry's Wonderland 3D
06/14/12 - Gon Paku Paku Paku Paku Adventure
06/28/12 - Culdcept
06/28/12 - Tantei Jinguuji Saburo: Fukushuu no Rinbu
07/05/12 - Little Battler eXperience Baku Boost
07/12/12 - Pocket Soccer League: Calciobit
07/12/12 - Taiko no Tatsujin: Chibi Dragon to Fushigi na Orb
07/12/12 - Time Travelers
08/02/12 - Smile PreCure! Let's Go! Marchen World
08/30/12 - Senran Kagura Burst
09/06/12 - Lost Heroes
09/13/12 - Medabots
09/13/12 - Samurai Chronicles 2nd
10/25/12 - AKB48+Me
11/15/12 - UnchainBlades Exxiv
11/22/12 - E.X. Troopers
11/22/12 - Grandpa Danger Jya
11/29/12 - Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright
12/13/12 - Inazuma Eleven Go 2: Chrono Stone
12/13/12 - Toriko Gourmet Monsters
12/27/12 - Fantasy Life
02/07/13 - Dragon Quest VII
02/21/13 - Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
02/28/13 - Dragon Ball Heroes Ultimate Mission
02/28/13 - Osawari Tantei Nameko Shigeru
03/14/13 - Super Robot Wars UX
03/21/13 - Pretty Rhythm: My * Deco Rainbow Wedding
04/11/13 - Cardfight!! Vanguard: Ride to Victory
04/18/13 - Tomodachi Collection
04/25/13 - Meitantei Conan: Marionette Symphony
06/13/13 - Chousoku Henkei Gyrozetter
06/20/13 - Ninja Jajamaru-kun: Sakura-hime to Karyu no Himitsu
06/20/13 - Sayonara Umihara Kawase
06/27/13 - Digimon World Re:Digitize Decode

04/25/13 - MapleStory: The Girl’s Fate

11/20/12 - Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?!

01/03/13 - Unchained Blades

Future releases

07/04/13 - Toriko: Gourmet Battle!
07/11/13 - Youkai Watch
07/18/13 - Danball Senki W Chou Custom
07/25/13 - Beast Saga: Saikyou Gekiotsu Coliseum
07/25/13 - Chibi * Devi! 2: Mahou no Yume Ehon
07/25/13 - Fantasy Life Link!
08/01/13 - Disney Magic Castle: My Happy Life
08/01/13 - DokiDoki! PreCure Narikiri Life!
08/08/13 - Elminage Gothic 3DS Remix
08/08/13 - Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-Kun SP: Rantou Kyousoukyoku
08/08/13 - One Piece: Romance Dawn - Bouken no Yoake
08/08/13 - Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger: Game de Kaburincho!!
08/22/13 - Conception II
09/14/13 - Monster Hunter 4
09/19/13 - Mushi Bugyou
09/26/13 - Fate/Kaleid Liner: Prisma * Illya
10/03/13 - SPEC: Ten
10/17/13 - Exstetra
?? - Danball Senki Wars
?? - Devil Survivor 2: Break Record
?? - Dragon Marked for Death
?? - Gaist Crusher
?? - Jam with the Band
?? - Kaio King of Pirates
?? - Metal Max 4: Moonlight Diva
?? - One Piece: Unlimited World RED
?? - Puzzle & Dragons Z
?? - Retro Game Challenge 3DS
?? - Witch’s Hat in the Magical Town

10/29/13 - Regular Show: Mordecai and Rigby in 8-bit Land
11/12/13 - Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW!

08/03/13 - Hakuoki: Memories of the Shinsengumi
08/13/13 - Rune Factory 4
?? - Etrian Odyssey: Millenium Girl

Problem is even Operation Rainfall had troubles and many forget that a big part of their petition was importing the Japanese copies of the games. Importing can be used in ways to generate demand that people want games.



TwilightV said:

I don't know why you decided to call this Soapbox. There's less drama and more discussion here than most anywhere else on the site. : /



Falk_Sturmfels said:

Ahhhh, I love dumb discussions like this. No reason for Nintendo to change it. All the hellraisers should have a simple look at the sales of most of the imported games. We don´t talk about million sellers, which are hold back by Nintendo. We talk about games who sell just 25000 pcs in 12 months in our regions, and thats from Nintendos point of view not even peanuts. The important games with high sales are coming quick enough these days.
But okay, if anybody wants to play a Dating Sim, great, then buy a japanese 3DS and raise hell about a region-lock the mass market doesn´t even know.



spike said:

We have to wait ages for decent games like Etrian Odyssey 4. Its currently due in August! Been available in the US for months. Sort it out NOE.



Shinta125 said:

@Falk_Sturmfels I've never read a more stupid comment. Same could be applied to Nintendo's own Fire Emblem in how it took decades before it ever got a localization and it's so niche people didn't realize how much they missed these past 5-10 years. So what's wrong with importing, increasing awareness and generating some demand? I can tell you Fire Emblem was no big seller and Awakening was probably going to be Nintendo's last for the franchise had it not sold well. And there was no need for the "dating sim" comment.



Nintenjoe64 said:

I don't think there's any need to have RL in 2013 but it annoys me that it's the only campaign Nintendo fans seem to be trying on Miiverse. I've told the people posting about region locking (who clearly get their friends to 'yeah' each other to make it seem like everyone cares) that they should be using Miiverse to ask for e3 demos, better VC games, price reductions for VC and the Wii Channel on the gamepad. Every time I have been berated by a load of people saying "the demos were on dev kits, I don't want to have a buggy demo that tanks my WiiU" or "don't make Nintendo rush out VC games that aren't ready". The e3 demos would be the most popular download they've had so far, even if they were buggy and crashed more than they played.



SquarEvil said:

Living in America, I've only ever imported 3 games.

Jump Ultimate Stars for the DS which is an excellent game that EVERY DS OWNER should make the effort to find whether they understand Japanese or not. I don't and it's one of my top 10 favorite DS games of all time. Just look at a translation walkthrough at GameFAQS.

Tales of Eternia, an underrated PSP game that came to Europe and was translated to English. As a Tales fan, I'm glad I was able to play a game that had no reason to not be localized in the US.

Sonic Generations, which I would've gladly bought here in the US if we had actually gotten that awesome collector's edition that was only released in Europe and Australia. But that's just SoA's loss I guess.

And correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the main reason why we got Elite Beat Agents because so many people imported Ouendan from Japan?

Should the 3DS and any future Nintendo portable system by region free? Well, just look at the avatar



ichigo62 said:

Hmm i am curious, do even they (nintendo and the coop) see this debate/polls? Just to make sure we are not yelling to the wall.



Blackblessing said:

I'm in Australia and the difference in price of Game and Wario on the ESHOP is reason enough.
US ESHOP and RETAIL = 39.99 USD (44 AUD)
AUS ESHOP = 74 AUD (67 USD) or Retail 78 AUD (70USD)
As much as you say its a problem with our location and government as opposed to Nintendo, all I know is that if there was no region locking, I would have bought the game and Nintendo would have sold one more copy than if not and don't even get me started on the Super Luigi Wii u DLC



bahooney said:

"It’s also worth noting that the number of people who actually understand what region locking means is tiny."

o rly? Then how could it hurt to cease region locking if not many people will take advantage of the feature?



DreamDrop said:

Sad to be you guys, I bought my 3DS when I was studying abroad in the US while my friend was in UK and got a PAL 3DS, now both of us are in the Middle-East and we get both PAL and NTSC games at the game retailers here. Apart from that I don't own consoles and Steam is my primary gaming platform. My work here is done flies away



Onion said:

Tales of Eternia was released as Tales of Destiny II in the US and was originally a PSX game. Not that I blame you for getting that particular version. I've had my eye on it for a while now myself.



SCAR said:

The ammount of people who understand the importance of region locking is probably just as many that would import games if there wasn't region locking.
Nintendo already explained that it helps localize more games in the long run, because region locking requires more communication between business partners in a said region.
Rating systems, currency exchange(Australia deals with this the most I think), retail relations, etc.

Those sort of controls in a business are more beneficial in the long run than the short term.



SCAR said:

It's pretty apparent that you're one of the people that does not understand its importance, regardless of the console.



Shinta125 said:

@SCAR392 Then they can focus on better efforts to localize while importers can still get some niche games. Sony's efforts on the PS3 have been great with their localizations and worldwide releases that their games don't suffer a staggered launch. Nintendo needs to do a better job overall with worldwide releases but they can still be region free while doing so.



SCAR said:

It's also a possibility, that without region locking, consoles that are now considered retro would have never made it to EU, because of the PAL format.
Region locking allowed game companies to translate games to PAL code more easily, because the consoles themselves were localized. EU should be especially thankful for region locking in that case.
It's fair to fight for 60Hz, because times have changed, but I'm pretty certain EU would have never even gotten 50Hz games if it weren't for region locking.



Shinta125 said:

@SCAR392 Yeah, compatibility issues are one of the biggest reasons region locking was around for home consoles back then but that still says nothing about the Gameboy, Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advance and DS being region free.



Shinta125 said:

@SCAR392 Exactly! Then why should the 3DS even be region locked when Nintendo has a history of not region locking their handhelds?



SCAR said:

I agree that region locking shouldn't exist just like everyone else, but there are still benefits for doing so. Once there are no longer benefits to region locking in any way, shape, or form, I'm sure Nintendo will ditch it once and for all.



Araknie said:

Read it all folks it you don't wanna sound bogus in your response.

@Jonny Months people, Months for a game in Japanese with a lot of dialogues and text and that you can't go ahead if you don't understand what's what's.

It's like i would buy Xenoblade Chronicles JAP, why would i do that? I cannot understand a thing, you need to be Japanese or have a Grade-1 after doing like 5-6 years of Japanese lessons and going to the official exams.

Even MH4, Capcom already said it will come in Europe on USA, so what's the problem? It's not even out in Japan yet how can you pretend a release date for the UK for example.

I don't see any 3DS or Wii U important games that won't come in the US or Europe, 10 years ago you would have seen a game like Project X Zone.

I remember waiting for Namco X Capcom to come outside japan in 2005 but it never did and the PS2 was a region-free console.

Ni No Kuni on the PS3 did a poor launch in the West also One Piece: Pirate Warriors did the same, and i'm talking about recent games. Siren: Blood Curse is another game that suffered a lot back in 2008, months passed and you can understand japanese really well bought japanese versions.

If they ditch region locking they would need extra money and people to give bigger advertisments when the game comes out in Europe o USA because they need to make sure more people knows about because the interested ones and capable of understandment ones already got it so they need to make it know to way more people and that, for me, would be a waste o money considering the modern cost of life.

I'm ok that Nintendo ditches region-locking only if doing a bigger advertisment campaing for every game don't make them go in major losses.

Sure it will happen soon that some games would not be localized because they would need to concenctrate to some games like in the old times but not all.

It's a compromise, you want to have all important games localised and region-locking or some important games and region-free? Also, now there's still a chance to get Yakuza1&2 HD localised, you think that, with a region-free Wii U, they will go the extra mile and buy the european rights from Sony so they can encode the text for europe and then go and buy the USA right to do the same without having a sure money outcome?

Right now games come in europe and america only thank to region-locking that makes sure that people buy that game because there's no other way?
I don't think many games would have ever come here, including Project X Zone or any Guild game if the 3DS was region-free.

With the DS, Gameboy Advance and Gameboy original we missed really a lot, i know some entire series of games that never saw the light here because they were not seller but niche games and region-free consoles were really a bummer for niche developers.

Why we complain now that we get all the games and in the SNES days nobody got some great games. Even the AVGN said that in 2010 talking about licensed games on NES and SNES saying: "now it's all new story, but back then..."



Daggo said:

This isn't only about a "Let's import from Japan" thing, I live in Latin America and we are under NOA, so I'd expect to have here at least Nintendo big franchises translated to the region main language, right?

Well, sometimes they are not, Pokemon only come in English flavor, and that's kind of a issue for a game aimed at children. What we have to do? Either we suck it up or import multilanguage games from Europe, spanish is slightly different there, but at least it's not a entirely foreign tongue.

At the end, it's not like everyone is going to start importing all games from other countries crushing their local markets, as it's quite more expensive than usual and NOA does things right most of time, but I want to have choice, a restriction is still a restriction, and a very bad for handhelds, DS was very welcome in that regard.

I sincerely hope Nintendo do the right thing for both, WiiU and 3DS.



Meaty-cheeky said:

Nintendo should at least get rid of Region Lock on the Nintendo 3DS. Because the system is a handheld and I take it with me in all of my travels, and their are some games I would like to import from Japan, but that means I need to buy a Japanese 3DS



Shinta125 said:

@Araknie Because people have to show a demand for games to get localized. People had been wanting Project X Zone for a long time now and one person had even asked Reggie on the street. They were willing to go far. Also without Operation Rainfall, NA would have never gotten the games they campaigned for without petitioning, sending in letters and IMPORTING the Japanese copies. 3DS is different in most cases for JRPG's because they can thrive there safely because of the ecosystem. That's not to say that the Wii U or PS4 are not safe because they are because of the demographics the systems target. But many still will never make it unless they are petitioned.

Where's Phoenix Wright Investigations 2? Where are all the Dragon Quest games? Or going back in time, where's Pokemon Trading Card game 2 on GBC? the first Pokemon Trading Card game sold more than 1.5 million copies in its first year, garnering enough success that it seemed obvious the sequel would come. But no, despite Pokemon being in its prime as a global phenomenon they didn't release it. Many games will have that problem and still many games do have this problem in this day and age.

Look at Europe, Nintendo has a long history of problems bringing games there. The SNES had 250 NA exclusives and EU had a measly 63 exclusives and this problem still exists today even though Nintendo's brand has been getting bigger in Europe, but they still ignore it. That's something they need to address and they still sit on their butts most of the time.

I'm from the US, so I have the fortune of getting a lot of games localized here but Nintendo has problems it needs to address globally and in some cases it may not be possible because of restrictions of each region. that's why region free can still give consumers choice to buy games that may never make it because localizations will NEVER be 1:1. Hell, blu-ray has adopted a better region system these days and some anime companies have even made region free discs so you can import without needing to purchase a region free device.

But again, like many have already brought up, importing would not affect Nintendo in any negative way if they don't release a game in a specific country. And if they do release a game in a said country years after its release people have have had enough time to buy it again to show support. Nintendo can also prevent staggered launches buy releasing games at close dates greatly reducing any incentive to import (which would also address the long wait times on localizations i mentioned above). I've had people bring up Pikmin 3 as people would import and ruin everything Nintendo strived for, but simply put, it won't. The dates are so close together no one really cares to import it.



Lehtisiika said:

I believe region locks are thing in the past as people coming more clobal.

I have imported two games so far they being Little Busters (pc) and Hatsune Miku Project Diva (ps vita) from Japan and i think how would i have feel if i couldn't play those games? Sad, its because they are something so different what most of western games are (guns guns guns), you can say they are cultural bonded and i love Japanese one. One thing that makes me angry is when they happen to release rpg games here (in outside Japan) why of god there is no orginal dup in the game why only bad english yea there was only english on that Pandoras tower but happy to say that in Xenoblade you coud choose Japan dup if you so prefer, like i.

Localization isint problem to Sony and Microsoft i am astounded that is to Nintendo yea stubborn is stubborn it is interesting to see what future will bring as we move towards digital download, there is no oceans in internet.

But end of the day i`am a pc gamers so i do not have problem with region codes, but for consoles i cheer for Nintendo.

When i was traveling in Japan few month a go i went to game store and oh my god it was like kid in candy store "what this game is" "wow i have never seen this one" at the time i thought PS3 is region locked so i diddint buy anything ,but now i know that it isint and the next time i go there... ouh you see!



Meaty-cheeky said:

I also can't believe their are people on here defending Nintendo on this matter of Region locking, you FanBoys might as well defend Nintendo for not creating online accounts for our digital downloads than.



americola said:

This article's argument ultimately falls apart in an ironic fashion. You claim that a small minority actually cares about region locking and in the next paragraph claim that Nintendo employs region locking in order to support their international studios. If importers are indeed a minority, why is locking the consoles an issue that requires lock down?

The rebuttal here is always about consumer freedom. I have not seen a good argument on why region locking BENEFITS the consumer but there are plenty on how it harms the consumer, even if it's a small minority of consumers. Any other reasons are superfluous if there are zero benefits but many negatives.



SCAR said:

People defending region locking are not fanboys. This goes for anything. Region locking has made more possible than just saying screw it.
Region locking is what helped Nintendo localize the CONSOLES themselves in regions outside of Japan. In otherwords, without region locking, the market in EU and NA would virtually not exist as it does today.
Obviously, times change, but there have been beneficial factors that have been brought to light whether it be in the past or current day, that are impossible to ignore.

Without region locking, consoles such as NES, SNES, N64, probably PS1 & 2, Sega, and basically every Japanese console ever, would have never deen released outside of Japan. That is what region locking has done on a console level.



SCAR said:

Next time region locking gets brought up, I hope people realize none of their arguments make sense if region locking never existed.
Without region locking, there wouldn't be any games at all. Think about it.



ichigo62 said:

^^ above me, well lucky for you man if the NA games satisfy you just enough. Take an example from my case. I have a strong gaming Community/Lan Party in this little sad country (bad internet connection). So 3 friends of mine, they DON'T like the 3ds' library right now, me on the other hand just love 3ds even though its getting blurry a bit over time.

But they have locked their eyes on 5-7 titles JP's library, thats including Fantasy Life (a new game i believe) but once they knew that they needed to buy jp 3ds handheld in order to play JP games. This was their reaction to me : "Haha, tell you what bro its a joke, getting imported game that is twice of the price is one thing but getting another freakin imported handheld which is also twice the price is not even funny"

So we stick with the ragnarok odyseyy for a time being. Believe me there are thousands cases as mine out there.



TromaDogg said:

It's good that Nintendo has localised games like Xenoblade Chronicles, and international release dates are indeed a lot closer than they used to be, but region locking is still a massive issue and Damien's way off the mark. You can hardly call games like Fatal Frame/Project Zero 4, Excitebots, Another Code: R, Disaster: Day Of Crisis and Kirby 20th Anniversary Collection 'super, super obscure' titles, can you? And yet region locking prevented everybody in the world from being able to enjoy them. Look at Etrian Odyssey....only the first one was released in Europe. Had DS games been region locked, I'd have never been able to play EO2 or EO3. At the moment I'm still waiting for a firm EU release date for Etrian Odyssey 4, which I would have already imported by now If I had the option. Remember The Legendary Starfy on DS, another first party Nintendo release that was localised? Wasn't released in Europe though, and I had to import it. Konami decided not to release the 'super, super obscure' Contra 4 in Europe as well....thank God for region free gaming on the original DS. I don't see why I should have to live in hope that there's an 'excellent chance' that a game will be released in my region when we all know that more often than not it just simply doesn't work out that way. Many of us aren't just sheeple who are happy to be limited to only whatever the local game shop offers us, and publishers like Nintendo need to realise that.

If Nintendo are going to insist on sticking to this region locking BS, then they should at least make sure that when you localise a game for either the US or Europe, make the English language version region free, because many, many more Western gamers understand English than Japanese.



thepitt said:

The author is right about one thing; barely anyone actually imports games and those that do can afford to purchase what is necessary to do so. Sure, it might help a handful of people save a few bucks on purchasing other region consoles, but at the end of the day this is another "trending" attack on Nintendo and most people are 'hating' because they "jumped on the bandwagon" (what "trending" was called some years ago).

Unless you would seriously spend more then shipping on the game itself then go "trend" elsewhere. Shipping to/from different countries using a courier that is insured, trackable and will deliver the product in less then 2 months costs a lot more then $60 USD.

For a company to change their entire distribution model is a very large task and don't expect Nintendo to go out of their way to lose a lot more money that they would make to change that right now. Remember, Nintendo needs profit to survive.

Its like Sony and Microsoft pushing really crappy hardware on people requiring hundreds of extra dollars on top of the console price regardless if you buy an extended warranty, have your console fixed or buy a new one (over and over again) due to the poor quality and the death rate of these consoles. Why doesn't anyone bother to go start a "trend" on having these companies stop ripping you off. Who cares if you've got region free gameplay when you're subjected to that never ending process of faulty hardware (a major cashcow for Sony and Microsoft)! Why do you think the consoles cost pennies on the dollar?!? They're crap in a plastic box!

I don't remember any of my Nintendo consoles dying on me and I have every one they've produced starting with the NES.



DarkNinja9 said:

everyone is making a big deal out of this but in the end to me it isnt really a big deal its not like im going to pay for a game that came out in JPN and have it import pay shipping etc for that game o.o its better to just have a world wide release like pokemon X and Y

if they remove region lock i probably wont notice but hey if ppl want it removed more power to them



Zombie_Barioth said:

Region-locking has nothing to do with hardware failure, unless of course you tampered with your console and screwed something up but thats user error. A good part of the RROD/YLOD was over heating and cheap thermal paste

I really doubt Nintendo would have to change their entire distribution model over this. Most of the people who would import their games would likely be doing so out of necessity and if they really rely on region-locking they can region-lock the disks themselves. If importing was an issue then Sony, Microsoft, and everyone who publishes on their consoles would be affected too.



Vader_MIB said:

So if i want Code of Princess in France, i have to download it and cannot have the boxed version as in the US. And what about Etrian Odyssey IV we are still waiting for ? (The 2 and 3 on DS were even never released in Europe, so God bless the non region locked DS ! Same with Radiant Historia). I just bought Muramasa Rebirth for my Vita from the US and i pre ordered Dragon's Crown. I am very happy with Sony's position of NON region lock for the Vita. I will end playing with my 3DS and switch to the Vita in some days thanks to high consideration from Nintendo for European players...
And why all of a sudden locking the 3DS after the DS, GBA and GB not having this restriction...?
Ah, and i forgot the nice localisation of Devil Summoner recently. You wait, long, and you end with a bugged version of a game! Yeah, marvellous.



Shinta125 said:

@Vader_MIB A nice thing at the time, Aksys Games, Xseed and Atlus USA would at least sell their DS games on Amazon UK. They couldn't reach the EU market by normal means since they don't have operations outside of America sadly, but they at least put forth effort to sell the american copies to Europe. And it was all perfectly legal.



Araknie said:

@Shinta125 I would be nice if so, but really you have to admit that the Advertisment part would be costy if they release a game one year after on a region-free console.

Nintendo's always a company that cuts loose ends, they always did that, from production of a console to marketing of game.
Nintendo has almost only gaming to make money it's not like Sony or Microsoft that they can do region-free console because they don't need the money from localised games, they care only about global sales.

Nintendo is a smaller company and when everybody will stop comparing and understand that you get a different type of an attitude.

I repeat i agree that they ditch region-locking if they can afford a stronger advertisment campaing for every important game they bring...or we will surely see less brought games in our country.

You can't really give privileges to the few that understand japanese affecting those who don't.
Also, for a Nintendo the business company point of view, you want to target the larger audience possibile right?
Yes, because that's what they say since they're on the market, i remeber ads for the SNES in my country, Italy, saying that the SNES was the gaming console that will bring "Nintendomania" to all people.

Also thanks to the region-locking if you a campaing to bring a game in US or Europe it's easier that you will see it done, yes some games needed that do get released but Nintendo said in many Nintendo Directs that all we really want and get vocal about it will get released.
Just in 2012 Nintendo decided to help Namco, Tecmo, Capcom and Square-Enix to release their games in Europe and America if they ask.

I happens that a bunch of really important games will not get released in a row i'll change my mind but right now i can't see the problem.



Shinta125 said:

@Araknie It still feels artificial. I plan on importing Tingle's Rupee Land from Europe soon and it's not a DSi enhanced game so it can be played on the 3DS without fuss. And we still have the issue with handhelds and Nintendo's original stance with Gameboy during all of Yamauchi's reign. Nintendo's original stance on handhelds was that people should be allowed to play games anywhere on a portable system because people like to travel with their portables. If Nintendo can keep up the pace they're going with the 3DS (which has been really good) I see no reason to keep region locks. And what I find really dumb too is that some games even have a region lock on local multiplayer and street pass. That's absurd in my opinion. Because those are things that are important to games and the whole social aspect of handheld systems ESPECIALLY street pass since it's meant for travel.



DualWielding said:


Not only that, but Nintendo Region locked the fricking Charger! I still don't understand how that can be justified, I don't know of any other portable device (laptop, cell phones, ect) where you need to get a different charger for another region instead of a simple plug converter..... And Nintendo does not even provide any warning, I'm surprised we have not heard any stories yet of someone blowing their american 3DS by plugging it in Europe with a plug adapter.



globalisateur said:

Whatever how you could spin the problem in your head to justify Nintendo's decision, region locking is really a relic of the past and one day even Nintendo will be forced to drop it.



SmaMan said:

Good article. I agree with it being a very insignificant issue, however, with that in mind, it should be all the easier for Nintendo to drop it. If it doesn't happen this generation, it will happen in the next.



Dogpigfish said:

I'm having that problem with the vita, they say there are a lot of games, but it's all Japanese garbage, nothing relevant to the English speaking countries. While I respect those who have a passion for japanime games and content, there are only a few of you. What lead to Wii's success is it's focus on the nongamer, not sure why they aren't doing that again.



rsaleh12 said:

Nintendo is doing a great job releasing games quickly in multiple regions but what about leaving the decision up to the publisher like microsoft did with the 360? Nintendo could still lock 1st party games, which are by far the biggest sellers anyway and publishers like Atlus wouldn't have to lose out on profits by outsourcing to NISA and others for EU releases because they could make their games region free.



Vader_MIB said:

The good job is true for their own games. Totally untrue for 3rd party games for which you are just unlucky if you are not from Japan or at least from the US. Nice consideration for customers. And instead of spending my money on my 3DS, i already shifted part of my game consumption to the Vita. Not long before i just switch completely.



thepitt said:


Of course Region Locking has nothing to do with faulty hardware, but I believe that the issue [region locking] is so pointless and a bunch of crappy trending hype that real issues like having your console actually last more then a year are being looked over.

I mean, I wonder how an article about how the RROD and YLOD have effected gamers pockets and how the Wii and Wii-U barely ever fail would go over on the front page.

Piss on region locking. Why don't people bring up real valid issues instead of going along with the trend of the week?

Bah ... Bah ... Bah ... a lot of sheep.




There is no need for region locking in this day and age of diigital downloads.Simple as that, you don't need to import anything



Rect_Pola said:

It was NOT localized all the same, NOA explicitly said NO. They were already in the PAL regions. Speaking English even. With the possible exception for imagery and references they may have wanted to gloss over, what localization did it need besides "print some more damn disks and put them on shelves".



Shinta125 said:

@thepitt Then complain! I have complained and I also payed attention to the news and avoided the 360 this entire gen because of their terrible hardware. You can have more than one voice for something.



alLabouTandroiD said:

Personally i could live with a solution that locks all US and JP games unless the publisher or Nintendo themselves unlock it.
They could decide to do that for games like Trauma Team, Excitebots, Centipede on the 3DS or Adventure Time since i'd say it's pretty certain they won't be coming to PAL – regions anytime soon. Even though i think they could be made available in the eShop without a huge hassle.
I don't need any translations and it could even make them a bit of money.
I will not buy another console just to play these games, thank you very much.

And i can only repeat that i've bought over a dozen of US-only games for the DS and would get a handful of Wii titles, a lot of DSi- and WiiWare, two 3DS games so far, …



Marioman64 said:

"Just look at Pandora’s Tower, Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story. All risky RPGs with lots of text to translate, but they were localised all the same." hahaha yeah, after everyone and their dog created an uproar and begged

also, I would have NEVER been able to play Daigasso Band Brothers DX if DS games had been region locked, and you might say "but wait, wasn't there a version released in Europe? Jam with the Band? (I'm in the USA btw, it still hasn't gotten here I don't think)", well, the song selection is totally different, I would never have had access to all the Jpop and anime songs I love so much, and I don't need to know japanese to play a music game or a platformer



Rect_Pola said:

Oh yeah, how's fatal frame 4? Oh wait...
There will always be games that will NOT come over because they don't think there will be a market for them. And it's not going to stop anytime soon.



Zombie_Barioth said:

I don't think people are jumping on the bandwagon so much as they're just feeling inspired by recent events. People have realized that they actually can force a change if they're vocal enough and they're acting on it.

Hardware issues on the other hand can't be changed so easily. Once the consoles are made they're stuck like that and its a bit late to complain about it now, the only thing people can do is be more cautious about these things and be more vocal when these issues do arise.

The thing about region-locking is its not just preventing people from importing from one place or another, its also dictating where they're allowed to buy their software and what hardware they can play it on. If I, for example, move to another region I would have to buy another console just to play games for a platform I already own.



princesskarla said:

hi everyone out there hi (:
Can anyone help out a girl here trying to buy her Nintendo Ds XL ? I want to buy a Nintendos Ds XL in the colors mintxwhite and that's only available in Japan. It's come to my attention though that the console may be region locked and that it won't play US games or be able to connect with Nintendos in North America. Basically I would have to change the motherboard of it in order to work out here fine. Can someone confirm if buying a Nintendo from Japan really going to be this complicated? Other solutions are welcome(: please help me out I'm goin to buy it soon but this tiny problem is in my way!! Thankss(:



TromaDogg said:

Looking through these comments, I'd say it's the people who think region locking isn't an issue who are actually the minority, not the other way around.



thepitt said:


Call it what you want not much has been changed by recent events of how customers out lash at something they don't like. I've seen some marketing strategies altered and some very restrictive proposed standards (XBONE security) become less restrictive, but trying to bully companies into submission over things people know little to nothing about is not a way to show appreciation. Taking into consideration that the change they wanted wasn't really what they wanted (they sure think it is) and a really restrictive proposal got a little less restrictive all I see is people jumping on the bandwagon (trending is what it is called this year). I guess its not a total loss as the more fuss they make the more the companies they pounce on can take advantage of their momentum. Free PR is rarely a bad thing, but this change being perceived as such is not really change; more like altering methods at little to no loss and those methods relay that illusion something has been changed, but at the end of the day the crowd of bullies didn't really get much. Heck, as long as it makes them happy and they spend their money I guess this new age smoke and daggers tactics works a charm. Let them believe they are in control and gladly take their cash.



Neko_Ichigofan said:

I feel that alot of people miss the point, sure there are alot of Japanese games that aren't localized, but what about the European ones that already are translated into english? I would easily be able to play those games and understand them.

Another thing is they claim to want to protect us from culturally inappropriate content, yet that is the very appeal that many have for games created outside their region. I for one am a huge fan of traditional turn based and real-time Japanese RPG's which is something hardly any western developers create and since most Japenese RPG's aren't localized it really irks me. I don't know enough Japanese to play imported games, but I do understand why some people would be willing to get an import console and games to play games that they're interested in.

There will always be people who like the cultural feel of games from particular regions which is why region locking is always counter-productive. Bottom-line people will buy games from other regions if they truly want a game that won't be localized so region locking = lost sales for game publishers and developers.



DarkKirby said:

Region Locking is a way for companies to have control over their customers and force customers to live with said companies choices even if they are anti consumer. So if I want to play a game from Japan, I would have to either not play it, or buy a Japanese 3DS. As if the language barrier wasn't enough.


Simultaneous worldwide releases and they released everything they released in Japan (or from other countries).



Onion said:


This is a good point actually. I remember I ended up importing the Japanese version of Terranigma simply because the E version (which is in English) never came out in America despite being fully translated. Unfortunately I didn't have any means of running an EU game (other than emulation obviously) and had to get the Japanese version instead. Luckily I have some knowledge of Japanese so it wasn't too hard to play, but the point is the game never saw the light of day outside of EU and Japan.



SphericalCrusher said:

I mostly buy all games from my region, BUT there's always games I look at, in other regions. Not having the ability to get them kind of sucks. I imported Yakuza 3 for PS3 originally, just for an example. There's probably 10 games I want on 3DS, that's not over here just yet.



Big_Boy_Chubs said:

i understand why nintendo uses reigion locking, but i think it's time they start to catch up with the rest of the gaming consoles.



Cmagik said:

Beside the fact the pool miss a really important choice
"I understand Nintendo point of view but I still want the RL to be removed".
I understand it. Businesss reason which is actually a really good reason. Don't get me wrong.
However, there's a lot of people down there who import game to actually "PLay in Japanese". They want to play with the original version of the game. Reasons may be numerous. From practicing japanese to being an Otaku who can't even read hiragana but enjoy seeing kana on the screen.
I recently moved from Canada to France and well. Let me tell you that getting a freaking game for my 3DS is now a pain in the donkey. Not mentionning I have a Japanese Wii-U. So basically, I live in EU but I've no EU software ^^' damn right.

So as he said. Translating a game is extremly expensive. Sure it must be, it must take quite some time to translate games like the Last Story or any Final Fantasy. So basically the problem's source is "The language". They locked the consol because they don't want us to import game. Right now, people mostly import to play in japanese because as you said, games are worldwide released within a month which the old issue of waiting for 5 month for a game is gone.

Something interesting happened recently, I was quite disapointed that I would have had to play Pokémon Y in english#french as I would have imported from US. But guess what? When we start the game we can put the game in the language we want, which include Japanese! I'm quite happy, I will be able to play my Pokémon game bought from the Americas in Japanese.
Just by adding this option all problemes have been solved (for me at least).

I wonder how much space in a game the texte takes? Pokémon is still a game with quite some texte as there's quite a huge number of trainer and random people you can speak to. And most of them have their own speech.
Would it be really that hard for Nintendo to release game worldwide with their original language? I mean, something like "I bought Pikmin 4 on Wii U in EU but I can play it in Japanese, or French, or English or German".
Would it be THAT hard?
EU games already give the choice of 5+ languages it's not like the function may be hard to implement.

Anyway, I may be wrong and totally offshore about the reasons people still import games from Japan but,

  • if games are all released withing a month
  • Translation is now usually of good quality
  • Only really obscure game that even Japanese people do not know won't be localised.
  • Game performance are now the same

The only reason available reason that I think remain is

  • I would like to play the game in its original version. (which usually is the language, not the plastic support the game in printed on)

Just my thought
I understand why Nintendo did a region lock and I agree to some degree. But for me it ruins my Nintendo experience and make playing a game very very very very complicated. I basically need to import my games from everywhere as I've no EU software.



NintendoFTW1999 said:

The only reason I would ever buy a game overseas was if it was a year before we got it, and it was in English (or French, I speak both.) Otherwise, I seem to be the only one here with PATIENCE!



LoveSugoi said:

I only have one imported game which is a niche title that would never get released in America and while I've gotten my enjoyment out of it, I found I really have no desire to make a habit of importing titles in a language I don't understand. If playing games from a certain region were that important to me I'd be far more likely to just purchase a console from that region then to raise hell over the internet about it. But as it is, I'm far more interested in localization and making more of those happen. Region locking, I can take or leave.



furbian said:

This is my first visit to this site, I stumbled here because I was trying to identify what region my 3DS is. The article is focused on imports only and assumes that one, like most people, lives in one country, and rarely travels abroad for more than a month with their family.

I have found Nintendo's 'region' locking a nightmare, and it directly lead my family invest in a PSP and a PS Vita. A relative bought my children a 3DS when we were visiting the UAE, it's a PAL region and there are a lot of British ex-pats in Dubai. However not only did we find (luckily before we made a purchase, opened software is nigh on impossible to rerun in the UK) that it didn't run British games when we returned home, it turns out Nintendo in their insanity have devised their own weird regions, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been lumped with NTSC nations of North and South America. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are PAL nations, so no idea why they did this.

So when visiting my relatives as I do a few times a year, the children like to share their games, not with Nintendo's weird anti-global vision they wont. We can't even give each other games as presents, as they won't work on each others 3DS's. Hence enter the PS Vita, a few were purchased, and the whole sharing and giving goes on as before, unhindered. On my last trip I was given another 'Official UAE' region 3DS, as my relative's children just didn't want it any more. Neither did mine, so as with the one before it, I just put it on eBay and sold it. Considering that we still have four Nintendo DS's in the household, we would have all upgraded to the 3DS, if it wasn't for their region locking.



Asukachan said:

Shin Megami Tensei IV
Release date(s)

JP May 23, 2013[3]
NA July 16, 2013[4]
EU TBA - Unconfirmed release

Trauma Team
Release date(s)

NA May 18, 2010
JP June 17, 2010
Unreleased in EU

Shiren the Wanderer
Release date(s) Wii

JP June 5, 2008
NA February 9, 2010
Unreleased in EU

Just took three games there that I was really looking forward to, and ultimately had to import an entire game system to play because of your ridiculous archaic stance on region locking.

As long as instances like this exist, there is no way you can call it a non-issue. This is not about waiting a few extra days for a release. This is about quality pieces of culture denied to a large amount of the potential audience. It's a total issue, and your gamers are hating you for it. Seriously. :<

And I still bought a Japanese 3DS to play Project Mirai...



oOo_Lindsey_oOo said:

Firstly I do agree to some extent with regards to this article ie age restrictions, but it shouldn't be based on the fact that people want to import from Japan. This is not the case!! What about importing from the US? As a 32 year old female gamer I find a lot of the 3ds games in Europe to be very child orientated, especially in the stores. I find many games that are appealing to me are not available in the UK or Ireland, and if there were I definitely wouldn't be able to buy them in the shops. I would have to Amazon. So naturally I tend to buy my games whilst holidaying in NA. I find the services from Nintendo America and Nintendo Europe to be completely different too ie stars reward catalogue has far better things in America and not to mention game DLC. Take Animal Crossing New Leaf for example, in the game there is a feature to street pass and feature a streetpass home in your showcase, that's fairly simple to understand. Now here is the problem a lot of Europeans are having, myself included and the reason why I wanted to purchase a NA version of the game. As well as streetpass there is spotpass, spotpass is controlled by Nintendo, they release houses and characters to feature in your showcase just like street pass would but these players are CPU. NA have received around 8+ of these houses from Nintendo America. Europe have received only 1 from Nintendo Europe. So what I'm trying to say is if the region lock is to remain in place then all regions should be treated the same!! Games and dlc should be released across all regions!!



sarsa said:

If this matter never caused any problem to Nintendo, I feel as well, that it never caused problems to Sony. So why not to follow the new generation 'rule'? I don't see any serious poll that says that people doesn't mind the lock, and if Nintendo releases its games everywhere in the same time, so maybe people wouldn't care about region locking.



theeyeclops said:

Simply not true. The truth of the matter is, There are plenty of Titles released only in one region. This alone should be enough not to use region locking for a couple of reasons, because distribution should be about getting titles to those who would like to play them (even if they don't know about them yet). Even if the international audience for these games is small, leading to the game being labeled as "obscure", the company is still denying customers something they want without any good reason I can see. Am I the only american who wants to play project mirai? I don't think so. And I don't think Sega or Nintendo are losing anything by not letting me import it (other than the $230 for a new japanese 3ds that I shouldn't have to pay for just one game). I also don't think that every game requires an understanding of the native language in order to play it. I had been playing Rhythm tengoku long before they decided to release the sequels Internationally. I never needed to read a lick of Japanese to play it and now that the series is international, I still prefer the Japanese versions because I find the English voice tracks to be somewhat dopey-sounding. This, of course, is beside the point because If I needed to and DID speak Japanese, I'd still want to play the game. What I'm trying to say is, I really can't see what Nintendo gains by region-locking me out of a game I want to play and would pay money for, other than to put up wall between themselves and potential fans. As a part of an admitted consumer minority, I'd prefer the 99% (conservatively) didn't try to speak on my behalf.

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