Region THREE

Mitchell Corp founder Roy Ozaki thinks that Nintendo's region locking policy has more to do with shifting additional units than it does with controlling releases in different territories.

While Nintendo has always exercised some kind of regional lock in its home systems, its portable devices have traditionally been region-free — which makes sense when you consider that people can take them all over the world. However, this all changed with the 3DS, which is only capable of playing games from the territory in which is was purchased. Even the New 3DS — which is due out in Japan next month, and in the west next year — will be region-locked.

We've discussed the whys and wherefores of region locking before, and Nintendo has even gone on record to state why it chooses to use this approach when its rivals — Sony and Microsoft — have all but abandoned it.

However, Ozaki — whose company has enjoyed a very close relationship with Nintendo over the years, producing exclusive titles such as Tokyo Crash Mobs, Polarium and Magnetica — feels that the real objective behind locking out games from other countries is to sell more consoles.

Speaking to John Szczepaniak in his excellent book The Untold History of Japanese Games Developers, Ozaki explains his perspective on the matter:

John Szczepaniak: I haven't bought a 3DS, because Nintendo put region locking on it. What do you think?

Roy Ozaki: That's to get more sales. You see, Nintendo is a hardware company. They want more people to buy their hardware.

JS: So you think it's deliberate, to encourage people to buy multiple machines?

RO: Yes. Nintendo has a lot of Kyoto University graduates. So you've got the best brains in there. As a matter of fact, I'm on pretty good terms with the guy that comes out with those kind of ideas for Nintendo.

JS: Really? Who is the guy?

RO: Higashiyama? I don't know, they're like banks. Every three years or so they move. Anyway, Higashiyama really helped us a lot. With a lot of things. Really nice guy.

JS: So Higashiyama came up with the idea to region-lock the 3DS?

RO: Probably, it's all on consensus.

Do you think Ozaki has a point, or is the reasoning behind region locking a bit more complex than that? Do you think the opposite is true, and that Nintendo is likely to sell less systems because of this approach, and not more? As ever, the comments section is your friend.