News Article

Wii U And 3DS Developers Share Their Thoughts On Region Locking

Posted by Damien McFerran

"Region Locking is a self-damaging form of DRM"

Region locking has been something of a hot topic recently, with both Sony and Microsoft confirming that their next consoles would be region-free, allowing buyers to play games from anywhere in the world. That means that Nintendo is the only one of the "big three" which continues to utilise region locks in its hardware — both the Wii U and 3DS will only play games from the territory they were purchased in.

We've spoken about region locking in the past, and even suggested that it's not as big a deal as some people are making out. However, developers are, by and large, not in favour of region locks. Not Enough Shaders has spoken to a few notable Wii U and 3DS studios to gain their perspective on the topic, and they were all overwhelmingly in favour of removing the policy.

Here's Renegade Kid's Jools Watsham:

In this era of digital distribution, region locking doesn’t make much sense. Every game should be a simultaneous worldwide release, because DIGITAL. Right now, we have to submit our games to NOA and NOE, separately. This slows down the process and can make it difficult to achieve a simultaneous release in different territories. Being able to submit one game to Nintendo, and then have the option to release in all territories would be a big improvement on the submission system.

The age rating boards also need to take note from the ESRB’s example of how publishers apply for age rating. The European age rating systems is something that also slows down the process for us.

SnowCastle Games founder Bendik Stang agrees:

I think Region Locking is a self-damaging form of DRM. It limits legal distribution and strongly motivates paying customers to start using pirated software. Imagine buying a product legally on a vacation or getting it shipped from a different region, only to find that it does not play on your hardware due to a region lock! I’m sure many with that experience have been so frustrated that they have taken the time to figure out how to use pirated games instead.

Andrew Augustin of Notion Games LLC shares the same feelings:

I personally do not understand the concept behind region locking. I can’t see the benefits of this. There’s nothing worse than not being able to play a game that you are really interested in because of it not being able to play on your region specific console. It limits the potential for gamers to experience all the game for a system they support and it limits the amount of players a developer can reach out to. No good at all.

Not all of the developers spoken to were so in favour of removing the lock, however. Uncade's David Byres is on the fence:

To be honest I’m not sure where I stand on the region locking issue. Removing it I think would be great for consumers, but from what I understand having separate regions allows lower pricing in poorer countries. One thing I do hope for, especially as digital distribution becomes more prolific, is that most content will be localized thereby removing the need to import games in the first place.

Maestro Interactive's Monty Goulet goes even further:

In my own gaming collection I have three imported titles. Shonen Jump Superstars, Last Window, and Xenoblade Chronicles. Given that you might assume that I’m totally in favor of region free consoles but I’m not 100% on other side of this debate. Consumer choice is always good. However, I can clearly see the reasons why Nintendo wants to lock down its systems, and just because Microsoft and Sony have decided against it 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; I simply don’t import that many titles. Secondly, release dates are now closer together than ever before. 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 to get the Japanese version? Now I know most of the debate is over titles that won’t be released in certain regions so I want to mention that as well. It’s a safe bet that if a region free console existed during Xenoblade chronicles, it would have never made it to Europe, and ultimately the US as the petitioners simply would have imported it.

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. From a business standpoint, I can clearly see where Nintendo is coming from and support it, but as a gamer, I would love to be able to play more titles than what are available in just the US.

It's worth noting that all of the developers Not Enough Shaders spoke to deal exclusively in digital games — had they spoken to publishers or developers tied to publishers, the response may have been slightly different for the very reasons Goulet outlines; physical distribution is a totally different ball game to digital. Still, the tone is clear: most developers don't want region locks. The real question is will Nintendo listen to them?


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User Comments (84)



Nightwalker said:

One can only hope that Nintendo listens...
I, for one, would love to be able to buy 3DS games from, since I have found a lot of cheap offers for cool games.
Unfortunately, I am "stuck" with using, simply because my 3DS is European. That sucks. :/



SanderEvers said:

There should be no same language region lock. So no lock between Europe and America. (Most of European games are in English anyway) But I can see the need for a region lock between Japan & the West.



Einherjar said:

I have to agree to a certain extend. A region lock "forces" a developer to release their games in more territorys. Opening the lock, i fear that many devs would simply say "we released it in the US, english is a universal language, if you want the game, import it, we are lazy and / or greedy and wont localize it anywhere else"
Sure, it would be profitable for smaller devs that really cant effort a world wide localisation, but they are the minority. Also, depending on the country you live in, importing costs quite a lot. I searched for a game a while ago and found it on ebay from a spanish seller. The import would have cost me additional 40€ which is simply crazy.
A region lock simply has its pros and cons, like it would be without one. If there wouldnt be a lock, people would complain about other things, im pretty sure of that.
@SanderEvers Who says that EU / Pal games are mostly english ? Most of them are multilingual, sorted into two language groups. Yes, there is also an english option to that, but there are slight differences between british and american english. Thats one reason why scribblenauts unlimited had been delayed, because the british english part was flawed (at least thats what i have read)



Sanqet said:

even though i don,t import a lot of games 3 in the last couple of years its good to have that option because we all know one thing is that there will be at some point a game you want to play that will not come to region you are in



onlyaman said:

Everyone talks about region-locking in relation to importing games, but there is almost no talk about another topic that affects me (and I'm sure a few other gamers out there) greatly. Region locking makes life very difficult for gamers who MOVE between regions. For example, I moved from the US to Germany two years ago with my 3DS. Since the console is region locked, I have to import physical copies of games from the US or stick to digital downloads. I can't just pick a game up at the local Saturn, etc. Furthermore, since the multiplayer and street-pass functions of most games are also region locked, I don't get to enjoy the full functionality of my 3DS. I can't game with people over here, and I can't get streetpass hits for any software other than the Mii Plaza. Really annoying... especially since I do get plenty of hits on the train! I have been a lifelong Nintendo gamer, but since I may be moving back to the US in a few years I had no choice yo pick up a REGION-FREE PS3. My PS3 is great- I can play games that I buy in the US and I can borrow European games from my friends here in Germany. And when I move back to the US, it will still work with all the software over there. Because of its archaic policies, Nintendo has prevented this Nintendo fanboy from buying a WiiU. That is bad business.



Technosphile said:

Ah, Nintendo. Piracy runs rampant on the DS, so they install a region lock going forward. That'll fix everything.



Hetsumani said:

"from what I understand having separate regions allows lower pricing in poorer countries"
That's not true, here in Mexico WiiU games, either at the eshop or at retail, are sold for the equivalent of $80 us dollars.



SanderEvers said:

@Einherjar In that case the system should lock out games in languages it doesn't support.

And then only on base languages. So an UK-English system should be able to play US-English games. The system supports all the languages of your region (EU: Dutch, English, French, etc.) (US: English, Spanish) (Japan: Japanese)



seronja said:

i hope there might be a firmware where they cancel this monstrosity of region locking... i can't buy almost nothing on ebay or amazon simply because most of those games are in USA... but the european amazon & ebay just simply sucks because it is harder to find games & they are more expensive



erv said:

I like the region locking. I'd hate having the wrong game shipped to me by knucklehead retailers and webshops, with all the language barriers in place - which would definitely happen in many cases.

And I want developers to at least pay attention to huge differences in languages as is. I hate it as an excuse for releasing or withholding games in certain regions based on marketing demographics though.



DualWielding said:

"allows lower pricing in poorer countries"

No, region locking is there to allow retailers in Japan, Europe, Asia, Africa, ect to sell games for more than it would cost people to just import them from the U.S.



Wheels2050 said:

@Technosphile: Many people associate the lack of region locking with piracy. Why is that? I don't think a region-free console is any easier to pirate games for.

@Einherjar: How is it being greedy for a developer to only release in a single region? They don't see the profit from postage costs etc. I think, if anything, having to go through separate approval processes for different regions probably discourages multiple releases more than anything.

I don't think there is any good reason for region locking. People don't need to be 'protected' from other languages. It's simply an outdated business practice and makes little sense, particularly with how mobile people are these days (i.e. how likely people are to move internationally). Our world is no longer neatly divided into "regions" - Nintendo needs to realise that.

Oh, and the argument "I don't import games so nobody else does" is ridiculous - I notice one of the developers used it. Please stop bringing it up.



Angered_Pegasus said:

Funny to see how some games can get a worldwide release, and include 7 languages, even Japanese. Case in point: Pokemon X/Y:

This said, I wish Nintendo will get rid of region lock, as it seems that they cannot do the same for other games (SMTIV, forever TBA in Europe for example).

It would also allow me to play games that will never be localized (Tomodachi collection, Fantasy life, Japan only as I type this).



RainbowGazelle said:

Nintendo need to remove region locking so that we can play games that will never be released here. There is a plethora of great Japanese games that will never see the light of day in Europe. I think the console should be region free, and it's up to developers/publishers to decide if they want their game region locked or not. If they are planning to localise it, they can region lock it so their localisation is worthwhile. If not, they can make it region-free.



Sinister said:

Region Locking serves multiple purposes.
1. Support local retailers
2. Ensure Games that get released to a certain market are localised
3. Different pricing in different regions.

Now i think we as gamers do not really care where we buy our games from. But Nintendo does. If the local retailers don't sell your games because noone buys them then they won't sell your hardware. There is not enough profit in the hardware for retailers hardware.
Some games that got localised would have never got a translation into at least english if it were not for region locking. Unless Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft would pay for it. The profit is again not big enough to warrent a translation if some of the possible consumers already imported the game.
Pricing in countries like India and Brazil would not be as low as it is right now. The people there would suffer much higher prices compared to what they pay now.

For me only point 2 is relevent since i live in a rich country and can afford video games. But i can see the ther side of the coin as well.
As a compromise i would like to see the European, Australian and North American Regions getting combined into one region.



Einherjar said:

@SanderEvers Again, US and British english is slightly different, but different nonetheless. So your system would block off US games on PAL (british) systems anyways. The region lock is simply handed by regional code, and not by language. You have PAL and NTSC and thats it. Why make it more complicated than it already is ?
@Wheels2050 The "greedy" part came more from the localization costs. If you want to release a game in PAL territory, you most likely have to translate it. If the lock was opened, i can see some of the devs go "screw that, just make a general US english version, they can import that on their own and we dont have to wrestle with the localization there"



ZueriHB said:

Local retailers wouldn't loose revenue because Nintendo would disable region locking. Because some gamers buy at the currently most convenient place they're at (physically), some always buy at the same location anyway (be it on or offline), and some only buy at the cheapest option. And of the latter, some go the additional lengh of importing because of price, even in Europe.

The real and only reason Nintendo still has or introduced region locking is to maximize profits.



SuperCharlie78 said:

Nintendo come on, fix this.
There is an unsold copy of Code of Princess in the US just because I would not be able to play it on my european 3DS, and there's no way I would spent more than 10-15 euros for the digital version, which is 30 euros by now.
So what Nintendo?



Quickman said:

There's no excuse for locking handheld consoles, I travel around quite a bit and it's extremely frustrating only being able to buy games from one region, especially after owning a DS.

Also in regards to the flash cart thing, how many people would consider buying one purely to get around region locking?



DualWielding said:


Its worst than that, region locking allows flash card sellers to have pausible deniability, while piracy is illegal, there is nothing illegal about removing region locks to play games you legally purchased in another region, so flash card sellers can freely advertise them as a device to allow you to play your games for other regions and say its not their fault if they are used for piracy because that's not what they are selling them for



LeVideoGamer said:

If Nintendo makes sure that most, if not all Wii U and 3DS games release in each territory, then they don't need to remove it IMO. There are certain games that would make no sense to release over here, but if there's noticeable demand, we should get it. As long as there is nothing similar to the Operation Rainfall situation, where we literally have to beg to get interesting games, I don't really mind.



Wheels2050 said:

@Technosphile: That's just a guess from somebody. I don't know for sure, but I've never heard of a lack of a region lock being a weak point to allow piracy.

@Ferthepoet: What about homebrew?

@Einherjar: I would be surprised if that led to companies only releasing a game in one region - after all, your potential market is much larger if you release a game properly in a region rather than relying on people importing it. It may lead to companies not performing proper localisation (e.g. releasing in English only in Europe, which certainly wouldn't be great for many people) but I think it's more likely to mean they will at least release A version of a game in a given region rather than none.

Having said that, what is the situation on the PS3? There's no need to hypothesise - right there you have a region free console to look into (although I can't be bothered doing the research right now).

I'm yet to hear a good reason for region locking - I doubt I ever will. Nebulous claims that it reduces piracy or is required for legal reasons (even though that clearly doesn't prevent Sony having a region free console) just don't cut it.

(That last bit isn't a go at you Einherjar, just at arguments for region locking in general).



AlexSora89 said:

My hatred towards regional lockout is well known by now; here, I only want to point out the poor timing between the article defending this practice - - and the one talking about One Piece: Romance Dawn not coming to the U.S. - - as there's just one or two days between each one's date. Personally, as a European gamer, I've missed several games myself just because of region locking alone: trust me, waiting until December 2012 for the Spyro trilogy on the PlayStation Store has been a painful wait.



Morph said:

@SanderEvers exactly my thinking, I see no reason to lock between usa and europe, there should just be two regions east and west, would make things much easier. Theres the odd few usa only titles I have bought in the past and would like the oportunity to still be able to.



Quickman said:

Interestingly enough, there's no region lockouts throughout Europe which seems to throw the "cultural differences" argument for region locking out of the window..

Also Superfire Pro Returns for the PS2: not available in the UK (for whatever reason) the US version was obviously region locked, but you could get a PAL copy, in English from Italy...



Einherjar said:

@Wheels2050 No offense taken You arent that kind of person who pulls arguments out of thin air and forces it down someone elses throat. And ich love a good discussion

Region locking is a relic of the past, when regional codes provided a major hinderence technical wise. The Xbox 360 handled it in a way, that the game itself could be locked, witout using a general regional lock thzat blocks ALL games from that region. So, we can assume that region locks are not a technical thing anymore. And nintendo already took a big step with the recent WiiU VC and their NTSC 60htz for every region policy.
Why they insist on a general region lock in regards to retail games is beyond me and is simply their decision. And the only major game that is affected by this that i can think of at the moment is the upcomming One Piece 3DS RPG. At the moment, there are no plans for it to be released in the US (which uses NTSC standarts, so the only other alternative to that would be a japanese version). Other than that, there arent many games on the systems, that didnt see a world wide release, but i could be completely wrong here, maybe because said titles simply dont interest me and i have forgotten them.



BestBuck15 said:

It's no wonder 3rd party developers aren't interested in Nintendo systems. Nintendo are control freaks.



Shambo said:

@SuperCharlie78 First of all: awesome image! And second: seconded.
Now they're forced to publish in multiple regions? Partly correct. IF you consider digital a worthy release. Which I never have, and never will.



ultraraichu said:

It would be nice if Nintendo listen but decide to support stronger localization instead.
That's why I agree with Byres last statement " that most content will be localized thereby removing the need to import games in the first place." Because at the end of the day we want to play games in a language or dialect we understand.



banacheck said:

@Macarony64: Region lock dosnt affect the many and unless it does it will not be changed.

Why should hardcore gamers go without games of there choice, because of casual gamers ignorance.



Angered_Pegasus said:

@ultrraichu. I must admit you have a point, there. I guess "better localization" rhymes with "more money". Otherwise how to explain that Pokemon X/Y gets a worldwide release with 7 languages in 1 cart formula, while other games don't? I am really curious about this.

@Jazzer94: hope so, but I am losing hope



DiSTANToblivion said:

I've never felt the need to import any games before so this isn't really a personal issue for me. That being said I can see how badly this affects those interested in games that they wouldn't normally be able to play, or those that lack the patience to wait for a release... but really, should we even have to wait? Being from Australia we mostly wait long periods of time for a game to be released, especially when developed in Japan. Seeing as Nintendo focuses almost solely on Japanese developers that's where region-locking is an incredibly stupid idea.



ricklongo said:

"having separate regions allows lower pricing in poorer countries"

This is a load of crap. Porrer regions of the world aren't even considered their own region! Latin America gets North American releases, while Africa gets European ones.



element187 said:

I prefer region locking. Without it, game developers/publishers will have to censor a game to the country with the tightest restrictions, or just not sell to a specific area... Germany for example has a whole bunch of cultural restrictions on video games, and publishers have to heed by them if they want to sell the game in that country....

Nintendo's region locking allows North America to have a game that doesn't have the censoring required in some European countries. The censorship in the Fire Emblem DLC is a good example.



Mattstewto said:

im surprised china hasnt been mentioned here. with china about to let outside consoles into their country nintendo might be the only one out of the big three allowed to sell there consoles.



Samurai_Goroh said:

I don't care that much about region lock, as I don't really import from other continents. If Nintendo improves at providing the games worldwide like it seems to be doing (Pokémon X/Y launch, Xenoblade on the Wii, etc), then it will become a non-issue. On the past few years, apart from Excite Bots for Wii, I think Nintendo of Europe has been doing a great job. There is always some Japanese very specific weird stuff that wouldn't make any sense releasing in the West. Anyone misses "Captain Rainbow"?



DualWielding said:


That's a poor excuse Nintendo tries to use to hide the economic reasons behind region locking, region locking has nothing to do with censorship...... Think about it, as you said Germany has stronger censorship than other european countries, that has not prevented games from being released in the Pal region.... Phoenix Wright 3 was released in the rest of europe despite being banned in Germany due to suicide, in the region free DS, Ultra Violent PS3 games still exist despite the console being region free...... PC games have never been region locked and that didn't stop Wolfestein 3D from being made despite no swastikas rules in Germany... Region lock has nothing at all to do with censorship



Macarony64 said:

@banacheck you can't be cheap and be hardcore at the same time kid. If you think you are hardcore you will pay the price no matter the obstacles.



crazyj2312 said:

Region lock isn't really an issue for me this generation personally since the games are coming out frequently enough here in the US. I'd probably throw a fit about the issue if Monster Hunter or SMTIV never came or if I had to wait a year for Pokemon



SuperCharlie78 said:

That is Kirbyonetta! XD
Well, this is just what I'm talking about, I'm not interested in the digital version of Code of Princess, and I wouldn't mind the game has been released only that way in Europe, if I were able to buy my phisical copy from the US, but I can't because of the stupid region locking policy.



rmeyer said:

I'm not going to lie, I would really like to play monster hunter 4 at the end of the year instead of in 3



WiiLovePeace said:

Personally I've never heard of a PS3 game that wasn't released in a particular region because the developer complained about a lack of region locking in the system, or too many imports from one country or whatever. & heck even on the PS3 developers can still choose to region lock (i.e. Persona 4 Arena) so I don't see what the problem with making the Wii U / 3DS region free is. If local shops (at least in my area, I don't know about elsewhere) were hurting because of a region-free system, why are they still selling PS3 games by the bucket load? They are also pumping out the Xbox one / PS4 preorders as far as I can tell, & despite any region-free those systems may have.

At this point Nintendo are only losing money through not having a region-free system, much more than they think they would lose if they region-free'd the Wii U & 3DS I believe. I really do hope they go region-free, as they should.



Aaronzord said:

Yeah, the PS3 is undeniable proof that region locking isn't required. The arguments people make in favour of locking are unbelievable. =/



Sceptic said:

Region lock is ridiculous. It serves only to monopolize and drive prices. I am absolutely speechless that people here actually buy into that corporate drivel they're feeding us.

What do Europe and Oceania have in common that would make that a sensible region under those purported 'important aspects'? - It's all made up.

It's about isolating highly competitive low-priced markets like Asia and the US from each other and especially from the less competitive high-priced markets, like Australia and Europe. Those are your regions right there.



AVahne said:

THANK YOU DEVS. Wish Nintendo would drop this restriction already.
Oi oi hackers! Please hurry up and hack the Wii U and 3DS with custom firmware! You guys have my full support now, until Ninty comes to their senses that is.



Shambo said:

@SuperCharlie78 I made a picture on Miiverse a while ago, showing Bayonetta as a 'new challenger approaching'. Sadly, very improbable.

Unlocking it is a double edged sword. Now they were 'forced' to give Europe some kind of release. If it's unlocked, they can grow even more lazy and say 'import it and leave me alone.' Developers AND publishers all to often play it safe'n'lazy these days...
To some, importing is still not an option.



Flynn said:

Region locking.
I know why its there, I don't like it, but I understand why nintendo has it. Now, if Nintendo imports the games everyone wants then I could careless.



AVahne said:

Irrelevant. Censorship can happen REGARDLESS of region-lock. No region-lock DOES NOT mean every version of a game gets affected by the same rules. Ever heard of the GBA? That was region-free, and it had a game called Yggdra Union. Now in the American version, there was a scene that slightly censored, but in the Japanese it wasn't. Understand that games get localized REGARDLESS OF THE PRESENCE OF REGION RESTRICTIONS. And when it is localized, it is affected by LOCAL RULES. If you can understand that, then you can understand that THERE ARE NO LEGITIMATE POSITIVE REASONS FOR REGION RESTRICTIONS.



OL_G said:

. There’s nothing worse than not being able to play a game that you are really interested in because of it not being able to play on your region specific console.

this is the whole reason it exists some countries ban certain games with region lock nintendo can sell the console in that region with no problems and block certain games for regions



SCAR said:

I don't think it's that big of a deal. More games on PS3 that weren't localized outside of Japan would have been if there would have been region locking.
It's all about that extra step to get your game localized that benefits the industry and consumers as a whole.
Nintendo charges tax according to your area that helps make it easier to get games to you after a period of time instead of paying out of pocket every time.



SCAR said:

Also, no. People don't defend region locking just because of Nintendo. It's been in place for multiple devices and services for A LONG time.
As long as you translate the game, the only extra cost is going through ESRB. I think Nintendo let's you publish each version to different regions for the one time publication fee.



Owlynator said:

Nintendo should just stop with region locking. Like, right now. It's hurting them more than what they might think.



Zombie_Barioth said:

No, region-locking doesn't make a game more likely to be localized. If the publisher decides the game doesn't have a big enough audience it won't be localized either way. The Wii is region-locked but NOA still decided not to localize the operation rainfall games until operation rainfall was created and XSEED stepped in, and the new One Piece game isn't planned for localization while the PS3 actually is region-free. If Nintendo cares so much about region-locking they can easily region-lock all their own games if they want while making the console itself region-free.

Extra hoops to get your game localized doen't benefit anyone, as Jools Watsham has pointed out.

I don't know where you got that tax bit, taxes have nothing to do with Nintendo. If your refering to the e-shop there are laws in place that require online purchases and digital goods be taxed depending on where you live and where your buying from.

Also, just because region-locking has existed in the past doesn't mean its relevant now. The world is a much different place than it was before. For example, the military is a big part life for many people. If your stationed in another region and your family has to move what happens to anything you have thats region-locked?



AVahne said:

Hm, on the Wii front, it's been a while now so I don't remember all those games that didn't reach America. The ones I do remember and really wanted are:
Disaster: Day of Crisis (Japan, Australia and Europe only, mixed reviews but it still would've been nice to have)
Tales of Graces (original Wii version Japan only)
Fatal Frame 4 (Japan only)
Fatal Frame 2 remake (Japan and Europe only)
Earth Seeker (Japan only)
Zangeki no Reginleiv (Japan only)
Captain Rainbow (Japan only)
And finally, those 3 Operation Rainfall games could very well have skipped over America if not for XSEED listening to fans and taking over publishing duties for two of Nintendo's co-owned IPs and all the begging fans had to do to get Xenoblade.
As for 3DS:
Senran Kagura (Burst may someday reach America...maybe)
Hatsune Miku Project Mirai 1 and 2 (2's not out yet in Japan, but I have doubts that it'll reach America)
Culdcept (Japan only)
Beyond the Labyrinth (Japan only)
Dynasty Warriors VS
And a bunch of other games that I don't think I can remember, including licensed anime games (one of which is coming to Europe...) and some Dragon Quest games that may OR may not release here.
And also, because the DSi was region-locked, some games that were labelled "DSi-enhanced" are also region-locked when played on DSi or 3DS, including:
Fire Emblem: Monshou no Nazo Hikari to Kage no Eiyuu (12th game, remake of the 3rd game that retcons a bunch of minor plot points....and will never release outside of Japan )



SCAR said:

Believe what you want regarding the taxes, but Nintendo doesn't have region locking for no reason. It's fact that region locking grounds their presence in the regions they are in. It's history.
I agree things should change, but they aren't at a time or place where that change can take direct affect.



element187 said:

@Koto congrats you just totally missed my point and ran off with a point I didn't even make. Of course CENSORSHIP can happen anywhere. Without region locking Nintendo has already said they would just make one western build of the game that would be compatible with as many countries as possible (which literally means locking down content to a standard of the most restrictive markets so they can keep their target rating)... Region locking allows them to target a certain build for a certain region. And if something needs to change in either the North America region or the EU region to keep a rating they are aiming for, they can change the build of the region without changing the content of the build for another region.

Sony/Microsoft games are going to target audiences more accepting of violence, language , and adult content, therefore don't care too much which rating their titles recieve so they dont have to worry themselves about modifying content for separate regions, therefore have no use for region locking..

Nintendo on the other hand do because it is crucial to their business to keep control of what rating their product will recieve in which country.

Region locking allows them to specifically tailor their games for each region individually to keep their ratings... Here in North America they strive for E rating for just about every game. That means they can make a build specifically for NA 's sensibilities without having to change the build that is tailored to the sensibilities of Europe and vice versa.

You really should read up on the localization process and why it's important. You should also read up on how the rating system differs from region to region...
But you shouldn't need me to tell how serious Nintendo takes their rating of their games in every country. Just having one Mario title fall out of the 'Everyone' rating in even one region would be an absolute disaster for the company when it comes to sales.



SCAR said:

Alot of people don't understand why region locking exists, so of course they think it's stupid...
There's no point to explaning or discussing why region locking matters if people don't care or understand.



rsaleh12 said:

Correct me if I'm wrong here but wasn't part of Operation Rainfall about being able to play those games in one's native language? I don't understand why people continue to use it as an argument for region locking. I assume many people wanted these games to be localised because they didn't want to play them in Japanese, although i'm sure the idea of paying for a new console dosen't appeal to many. Even if lots of people do import a game, who's to say they won't be willing to pay for it again to play it in their own language?



Big_Boy_Chubs said:

Region Locking has never been a problem for me. I do think it's weird that nintendo uses this method. If they didn't use region locking, wouldn't their sales skyrocket. If they didn't use region locking and I was in Japan, I'd buy a ton of games. They could also offer a service where instead of ordering foriegn games via amazon or ebay, you could order them from nintendo.



element187 said:

@SCAR392 These gamers don't like region lock because they don't see any benefit to them, the end user. They don't care that Nintendo wants to target a certain ESRB rating, and that every country has a different rating system and different aspects of entertainment can drastically change a rating.

It's probably the same people complaining that Retro is making Donkey Kong instead of Metroid... They don't see a benefit to themselves, so they don't think Retro/Nintendo should make DK... They dont see Retro's desire to actually pull in a profit. Nor do they care.

It's a very childish and simplistic view of the world. "Doesn't benefit me, so it shouldn't happen"



Einherjar said:

@Koto Thanl you very much for taking all that time, some of them rally escaped me (which is a shame, considering i forgot Dynasty Warriors VS...)
But to be honest, i think that the japanese language barrier is the far bigger problem compared to the region lock on most of these games. For most people, it wouldnt do much good, even if they could play them.
Nevertheless, that are some good arguments against it.



ToxieDogg said:

Why do people keep using nonsense arguments in favour of the region lock? First it was NintendoLife's own Damien McFerran and now Maestro's Monty Goulet talking about Pikmin 3 being released in all regions within a few weeks. Of course the region lock is a non issue IF THE GAME IS A MAJOR TITLE THAT'S 100% GUARANTEED TO BE RELEASED IN ALL REGIONS ANYWAY. The whole point of people (including myself) getting so upset about the region lock is that we're missing out on a lot of lesser releases because of it, and inequality between the regions is still rife. As I've pointed out before, Europe never got Excitebots or even the Kirby 20th Anniversary Collection on Wii, and the US never got Disaster: Day Of Crisis, Another Code: R or the Project Zero 2 remake. The US is missing out on most One Piece games, and there's also no word so far that Europe will get Etrian Odyssey: Millenium Girl. And that's just off the top of my head. The worst of it is, ALL of those games have been/are being translated into English, so you can't use the tired old 'language barrier' excuse either, as I'm pretty sure that a lot more Western gamers understand English (or have at least a basic understanding of it) than they do Japanese and would easily be able to play these games given the option. The region locks MUST GO. There's absolutely no excuse for them in this day and age.



AVahne said:

No, I got your point and understood it.
Tell me, if what you say about Nintendo's reasoning for region-locking and your own personal reasons for supporting it are true, then why didn't Nintendo region-lock every iteration of the Game Boy? Why didn't they region-lock the entirety of the recently passed DS? You say your reason to support it is because region-lock will allow Nintendo to "tailor-make" a game for a specific region without it being affected by another region's rules. Why is it then, that the game I mentioned in the previous comment released in every region on a region-free console with different publishers? I may be wrong, but I can see that having different publishers could lead to differing levels of censorship. But not just censorship, it could mean the game was also localized to each region to cater specifically to that region's language, manner of speech, etc. That sounds a lot like "tailor-making" the game to each region. On a region-free console. But not just that game, plenty of games tended to be localized for each region (IF they're localized) and catered to that region, regardless of whether or not they were region-restricted. But you mentioned Nintendo, one publisher. In all those years, did you think NoA and NoE would always release the exact same game just because it was on a region-free console? For example, is Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon for the region-free DS the exact same game in NA and EU with no differences at all? And on the flipside, there's Xenoblade on the region-locked Wii, which was the exact same game with the exact same localization in NA AND EU.
But ah, I can understand things changing. Perhaps German ratings boards have become stricter. Perhaps Nintendo merely wishes to be more careful than ever before to protect their precious public image. Whatever the case, I guess I really shouldn't care anymore. I already bought the Wii U and 3DS and I have games that are some day coming to NA that i wish to get. But for everything else, I'll join the ranks of those who hack their Nintendo consoles and unlock their full potential. Though, personally I'm not doing it to steal software or to turn my Wii U into a DVD or Blu-Ray player. I'd do it to be a Gamer who can play what he wants and what he pays for. On a Ninty console.
P. S. That Awakening DLC example isn't a very good one for saying European censorship being a bad thing for Americans. The EU version replacing the convo about "boing-y bits" with one about hairs sounds like it had a lot more to do with translator's choices, rather than pressure from ratings. There was also the censorship on Tharja's bikini CG, but that only occurred in the NA version. Huh, well if your ideal version of Nintendo "tailor-making" a game for NA involves putting extremely unnecessary censors on bikini-clad women on the beach, then I don't want any part of it.



placidcasual said:

Simple solution is to make it the publishers choice. Then games which will never make it out of japan cqn get some extra sales and games which are to be released elsewhere can protect their marketing spending



Zombie_Barioth said:

People understand why it exists, but that doesn't make those reasons any more valid. Nintendo's only valid excuse right now that they simply don't want to, everything else is either contradicting or proved wrong by the competition being subjected to the same standards.

As I said before region-locking doesn't need to be tied to the hardware itself anymore, if Nintendo wants their games region-locked they can do so without affecting anyone else by region-locking just the games. Importing shouldn't effect royalties from third-parties because as far as I know they're only based on number of copies sold, not the location.



Maxobiwan said:

What about theses games :

  • senran kagura shoujotachi no shinei
  • Highdchool DxD
  • Makai Ouji: Dairiou no Hihou
  • Prisma Illya
  • Nobunaga no Yabou
  • Conception II Shichisei no Michibiki to Mazuru no Akumu
  • One Piece: Romance Dawn
  • Digimon World Re:Digitize Decode
  • Super Robot Taisen UX
  • Hatsune Miku : Project Mirai
  • Hatsune Miku : Project Mirai 2
    I sure they will NEVER leave japan

I imported a lot of games for my DS, and I'm happy with my Etrain Odysseys and Jump Ultimate Star... For Etrian Odyssey 4, I had to import an american 3DS...

Do you remember Osu tatakae Ouendan! ? Because this game was succefull imported, devs created an occidental version Elite Beat Agents.



GreatPlayer said:

Region locking sucks because in Asia you are stuck with Japanese version of the games. Most Asians do not know Japanese.



Jllanos22 said:

Even the developers speak the truth!!!

Nintendo what are u waiting???
Take it down!!!



Jllanos22 said:

They still thinking of bringing the black 3ds xL to the us that was release in Japan first!!!
This it's another reason why the locking sucks!!!



LordessMeep said:

@Sinister - I'll give you Brazil, but India does not have lower prices as compared to other regions. Hell, India isn't even an OPTION when selecting a country within a region. Games don't come around here and importing costs are through the roof. Now, with the Indian rupee being weaker than the US Dollar, the prices have increased even further, the rarer games going for upto $80-100 in equivalent INR.

I don't even blame Nintendo for doing this...there is not much of a fanbase for Nintendo in India and they definitely won't be able to survive only as a gaming company, unlike Sony/MS who have other ventures within the country.

Sorry, for jumping at you like that, it's a very huge issue for me.

On topic, region-locking is a pain, though.

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