Nintendo have always been strict when it comes to region locking on their consoles. It prevents multilingual gamers from importing whatever title they desire, forcing them to wait for a localised version of the game instead, or never getting the title at all because there are no plans to take it West. That may change moving forward.
Satoru Iwata, the president of Nintendo, has acknowledged that a move to region-free might be beneficial for the organisation (Eurogamer via NeoGAF). This was translated from an interview on the Nintendo Website, so please excuse the poor English.
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 for example. 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 unlocking regions will benefit 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.
I think that’s positive news for anybody who likes getting their Eastern gaming fix a lot earlier than we do this side. It’s surprising how many people do it too. I was chatting to a French journalist who used to use Japanese games to touch up his language skills. He played the first Metal Gear Solid months before his colleagues did for example.
Strangely enough, Nintendo did talk about the regional restrictions on their new Nintendo 3DS not that long ago. It will be locked too, just like every other Nintendo console. Iwata did use the same reasoning though, saying that it’s something resulting from the industry and not Nintendo themselves. I still think it’s odd considering that Xbox and PlayStation games can be imported, region free.
Regardless, I think Nintendo will reconsider their stance. If they do, gamers who import can rejoice.
Last Updated: November 3, 2014