Will Region Locking Become a Thing of the Past?

Iwata considering an end to the controversial practice .

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 11/03/2014 20:00 2 Comments     ShareThis

As the world continues to shrink, it’s getting harder for publishers to dictate which content gets released in different regions. Publishers like Nintendo used to be able to give parts of the world an entirely different version of Super Mario Bros. 2 and no one would know the difference. The Internet has changed all that, making fans more aware about the type of content gamers around the world are enjoying. That doesn’t mean that we’re all playing the same games just yet, however. That possibility might be one step closer, though, as Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has stated that the company is considering bringing an end to region locking.

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.

Region locking has long been a source of controversy among gamers. The practice has been used for years in order to encourage consumers to wait for localized versions of games, rather than buying import copies. If a Wii U purchased in the US only plays games released in the US, Nintendo doesn’t have to worry about profits in one country cannibalizing profits in another. In theory, it makes sense, but for games that don’t end up localized, it leaves gamers with few options.

While Iwata’s comments don’t guarantee a change in Nintendo policy, it’s telling that the company is considering a change at all. It’s a forward-thinking move, and one that Nintendo fans would assuredly welcome with open arms. Stay tuned to Nintendojo where we’ll have more information as it develops.

Source: Nintendo Life

2 Responses to “Will Region Locking Become a Thing of the Past?”

  • 267 points
    decoupage says...

    At the very least Nintendo should go back to making their portable systems region free. On the crazy/fun/cool/never going to happen side would be if they offered the other regions games on the E-shop (unmodified). That might be illegal in some parts of Canada, and Europe, but I can dream.

  • 9 points
    CoopCouple says...

    I’d really like to see them do away with region locking. It would give gamers more options besides having to buy consoles from other regions, or resorting to emulators.

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