During the Q&A session which followed the Nintendo of Japan's investor briefing last week, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata indicated that Nintendo are reconsidering the unpopular policy of region locking on its consoles. An unofficial translation made by the ever-reliable Cheesemeister on NeoGAF turned up the following:
The game business has a history of taking a very long time with localization among other things, such as having to deal with various issues of marketing in each particular country, or games that have made use of licensed content that did not apply globally, and had all kinds of circumstances, so to say, that region-locking has existed due to circumstances on the sellers' side rather than for the sake of the customers. In the history of game consoles, that is the current situation. As for what should be done going forward, if unlocked for the benefit of the customers, there may also be a benefit for us. Conversely, unlocking would require various problems to be solved, so while I can't say today whether or not we intend to unlock, we realize that it is one thing that we must consider looking to the future.
Nintendo has historically always used region locking techniques on its home consoles to limit consumers to buying from their own region. The unpopular practice followed on Nintendo's handheld consoles too. While the Game Boy and original DS were an importers dream, ever since the DSi gamers have been locked into the region their console was assigned to.
To be fair the issue of region locking is a much less thorny issue than it once used to be. Most high profile games on Nintendo platforms now launch in roughly the same timeframe in all territories. However unfortunately this is still not always the case as Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker comes out one month later in Europe than North America.
What do you think of Iwata's statement? Would the pros of abandoning region-locking outweigh the cons for Nintendo these days? Let us know what you think with a comment below.