It's not really a third party developer's fault that Nintendo went this route with the 3DS though. So why would you just buy games used when third party needs a lot of support? I wouldn't take your anger out on everyone -- just maybe Nintendo titles.
In the days of yore when Japan was the epicentre of game development and buying a PAL PS2 was how you played weird Japanese rhythm games region locking was more of an issue than it is now. In this enlightened age of the twenty-teens you'd think limited access due to the mere geography would be a thing of the past, but of course Nintendo has other ideas.
As some of you may know I'm the recent owner of a Nintendo 3DS and am currently traipsing about the British Isles. It should be a match made in heaven.
Unfortunately, I've run headlong into the solemn realisation that Nintendo has spent the last six years with its head buried in the sand in stern denial of the existence of the internet. My 3DS is a US model, which means that UK 3DS games are unplayable due to the region-locking firmware baked into every 3DS console. This wouldn't be a problem if the Nintendo eshop could provide games via the miracle of the internet but sadly Nintendo have screwed it up on that front as well.
You see prior to my spint in the UK I was living in Singapore and thus have a Singaporean credit card. The way the eshop works is that you can't buy anything unless the postcode your card is registered to matches up to the region you've chosen for the eshop. However, Nintendo is convinced that only the US, the UK and Japan buy games via the eshop because the Singaporean eshop front is a joke. There are no games available for purchase, only a selection of game pages are up telling you to go buy said game at retail. No virtual console, no Pushmo, no nothing. Although funds can carry over from adding cash then switching to another region, the region from which all my money plastic originates prevents even the addition of e-money to my account.
Singapore isn't a swamp anymore Nintendo. It gets the internet there too.
Unless you hadn't realised Nintendo, the 3DS is a portable system. It's a platform designed to be taken, for example, on a trip to England. Perhaps someone who was undertaking such an expedition would want to purchase a 3DS game, both physical and digital, during his/her travels? It's not what one might call an unlikely scenario is it?
Of course I understand the reasons behind region locking. The internet gives players an uprecedented access to online delivery services that allow them to avoid the mark-ups on game prices in their region, thus undermining the profitability of a branch of a large publishing company. Nintendo obviously wants to protect its cut of every game sold for its platform and the lack of region-locking on the DS caused them no end of problems.
Nevertheless Nintendo has done an atrocious job of populating the eshops for each country with games to compensate 3DS owners for this inconvenience. It's also hard to condone region-locking in general when Sony has opened up the PS3 and the Vita to games from all regions and hasn't exactly suffered for it. For the limited number of consumers who actively exploit price differences in different countries that region-locking combats there are hundreds of consumers like me who are prevented from having a optimal experience. If Nintendo insists of using anti-consumerist measures then they need to provide sufficient digital services for every single region where their handheld is sold.
Luckily DS games aren't region-locked and I seem to have missed out on a generation of handheld games. I'll probably buy them used. I'm not feeling benevolent enough towards Nintendo to pay new game prices to reward their backward approach to the eshop, digital services and ensuring that consumers such as myself who would happily support Nintendo and its partners have the opportunity to do so.
People have a right to make the most money they can. If you don't like it, don't buy it. Life isn't fair, so stop demanding luxury or convenience. You are lucky with what you have. You all sound like dirty hippies.
@ImpliedBunny I'm a hippy because I'm dissatisfied with a product that I paid for? Please give your definition of hippy then because the way I see it you're encouraging people to let multinational corporations walk all over them and smile about it.
@adam1808 @ImpliedBunny Capitalism. As i said, everyone has the right to make the most money they possibly can. If you dont want to get walked on, then be the person doing the walking. Weak people hate money. Money makes the world turn. You are solely responsible for paying for and using the product you dont like. dont like it? dont use it, but dont complain about it because you do not speak for the human race.
Great blog and I'm happy to see you featured on Soapbox! I recently got a 3DS as well, and I love it. Check out Gunman Clive from the E-Shop. $2, pretty cool 2-D shooting gameplay. I also picked up Kingdom Hearts and Kid Icarus for cheap, but haven't had a chance to play them yet. Mario still kicks ass ;)
@Jbul Yes he does. Super Mario 3D Land is fantastic in case you haven't played it. Totally the reason to own the system. The 3DS still gets a lot of play despite these issues and of course there are tonne of DS games that I haven't played.
Lol region locking anything is the same as price gouging and we the consumer should continue to put pressure on these companies for doing so. Sorry the days of people not being able to get information is over I say let there companies fail and go bankrupt we shouldn't be locked into these old business traditions.
You talk about the possibility that Nintendo might lose money without the region-locking, but I think it's the opposite. People that don't buy games in their countries might actually buy them in some other county.
I say that out of experience. I recently travelled to Europe (I live in Brazil) and I would have loved to buy a 3DS (maybe even a Wii U) and some games, but I couldn't. Because of their stubbornness they didn't earn some couple hundred euros. I know there are a lot of people like me who would love to give their money to Nintendo but apparently it doesn't want it.
This isn't really the same but it kind of reminds me how countries (specifically Japan) refuse to sell many of their games to other countries. It really isn't all that difficult. They wouldn't have to put in a ton of extra work. Just translate the content into English or whatever language they want, then add it in as subtitles. They don't have to go as far as hire new voice actors.
I'm still amazed how it can be legal to region lock.
It stops free trade.
If it was any other business I doubt it would be allowed.
I admit, as a fan of Nintendo, even I hate this region locking BS, even moreso when I flew here to the UK (I'm from the US). Luckily, I have a legal disc to surpass region encoding on my GameCube (heck, I had to get a separate Wii and PS2, though the latter is a Sony console), but that's beside the point...
In the word's of Mark Bussler from CGR: Everybody, fingers up. F YOU REGION ENCODING!
That's damn stupid, Nintendo :) Not only Nintendo is doing stupid stuff, though. Many MMO publishers (especially asian ones) IP block their games to specific regions. This thing must die also, along with region blocking.
@ioshilee that's because they can't afford to spend money on servers.
The very concept of region locking a devise whose purpose is to move between regions is counter intuitive to say the least. Nintendo is not only hiding their heads on the sand when it comes to the internet, they are a fossil in the matter.
In a world where digital content can be viewed and distributed worldwide, region locking makes no sense and needs to die.
Region locking has always been something I could never understand. If a game isn't released in my region does that mean I have no right to play it, regardless of if I buy it legitimately? As soon as a game is released for my 3DS that I want, and if it isn't released in my region, I'll hack the console and break the region lock so I can import the game. All Nintendo have achieved by region locking the 3DS is the assurance that I will some day hack it. I did the same thing with my Wii. Region locking needs to stop. As much as I feel the PS3 has been a disappointment I commend the fact that Sony made it region free.
"Nintendo obviously wants to protect its cut of every game sold for its platform and the lack of region-locking on the DS caused them no end of problems."
If, as you point out, Sony took the opposite stance, and isn't exactly hurting for it, what's Nintendo's - or, for that matter, anyone else's - excuse? In fact, has anyone ever explained just how being able to buy and play any 3DS game on any 3DS, no matter where in the world it is, 'hurts' Nintendo?
@Ryozo In the words of Brad Shoemaker, I think Nintendo have spent the last 5 years with their fingers in their ears singing "lalalala" while Valve, Microsoft and Sony worked out how to work the internet into gaming.
very solid point...I have often wondered why all gaming companies have been wedded to this now that we've moved into a whole other time with gaming. I feel you and hardly use my 3DS...
Great blog. I am currently suffering from region locking. I am from the US but currently teach English in the Republic of Georgia in Europe. Google play is region locked except for apps, Amazon will only let me buy books, but even some of those are region locked, I can't buy the hobbit or lord of the rings, I have no idea about windows 8, Viz won't let people buy or download manga from their app here but some how my ipad still can but my android phone can download graphic novels but not the weekly shonen jumps. The only all in one digital place that sales music, tv, and movies that works here is itunes. So basically I want to give google or amazon my money for shows like pretty little liars, hawaii five 0, and how i met your mother and they are basically telling me no. I can understand sites like Hulu being region locked even though it is kind of stupid but if I am trying to pay for an episode of something with my American credit card why tell me no? If apple can do it I don't see why the other guys haven't worked a deal out yet. I have been buying those shows from itunes but it is kind of going to be a waste since when I get rid of my ipad I will not be using apple products anymore. When I tried to buy Dark Souls from steam I couldn't because it was region locked but amazon let me buy it so basically Namco Bandai said "You can't buy Dark Souls for $40 in your region on steam but you can gladly pay $20 for it on amazon and use the cd key to activate on steam lol. Thank God Comixology is not region locked or I would go freaken crazy during my time here.
I live in Bangladesh, over here since we don't have official support for consoles and games, we get mixed region games. A Major reason why everyone pirates 360 games here and PS3 have much less piracy is because the mixed region nature basically throws any possibility of playing legitimately. For example you buy a 360 console PAL region, but the game that arrived is in NTSC format, your screwed.
So unless you have proper channels every part of the world, region locking creates tons of problem and easily leads to piracy here. Also, I really wish PSN didn't have region lock, again it creates tons of problem with DLC compatibility.
For years, I didn't mind about region locking because all the games I wanted were out in my region, which is PAL, similar to yours. And then the announcement that the 3DS would be region-locked came around -- anger is what best described my feelings. On my DS, I owned a US Copy of a Dragonball Z game that I enjoyed, thankfully due to the lack of a region-lock. Then... This.
I own a European 3DS, the limited Edition White model with Super Mario 3D Land. I could just imagine if I was a US citizen and got this from my local GameStop or whatever. It would be infuriating. Yes, I'd have a game to play, but it would be that one game and the eShop would be worthless.
In short: Region-locking must die. It's existence is a frustration to many gamers.
@CamoBullo I'm currently limited to 3D Land as you've just described. Thankfully it's a hell of a game.
PS3 consoles are all region free indeed, so you can play any game on any system. However the only catch is that you need an HDTV, so if you're like me and still desperately clinging to an SDTV, it won't work.
Region locks piss me off big time
I am a big time RPG fan from the netherlands i even studied japanese so i could play more games from the asia region.
I got a few friends there so they are nice enough to send the games i want by mail wich saves me a lot of extra costs and from time to time i send them a gift as a thanks.
But thanks to these guys with theyr region lock i am forced to buy a extra 3DS from the asia region luckily i saw the 3DS XL charizard wich is really awesome.
But i really wish they got rid of the region protection there are so many games that never saw the daylight in the europe scene wich are really awesome and importing was the sollution
Region locking very annoys me, especially with JRPG's. So many great Japanese games, never make it to the west. :(
Great Blog, very informative.
Helpful article. I'm thinking twice to ditch DS for 3DS. And I thought finding decent DS games here in my country is hard.
region locking ... I could never get a decent cricket sim or a good AFL or rugby league game.
and they just don't make them available for sales in the US of A even for systems that are region free.
In case somebody from the industry is reading, I will tell them what region locking did to their sales in my case - as I am a bit of a freak, I am determined to get what I want even if it never comes to my region. So back in the days when I still had the time to play Japanese RPGs, region locking only made me chip my PS2 resulting in free games not only from Japan, but anywhere else, too.
I also want to add how I hate the way the PSN store is managed separately in different regions. For example, some pure art games like Closure are missing from the EU store (I am from Europe), and until recently, there was not even a PSN Store in my country. If I tried to access it, it said that it is just not supported in my region. The workaround - just have three different accounts: my original one which will show my nationality on PSN, a UK one for downloading stuff, and a US one for things like Closure. Downloading from one region to play on another doesn't seem to be a problem so why just not make everything available to all but make us purchase region-specific gift cards over ebay?
@Warpld At least you can create a new account and access games on other region's stores with the playstation network. Sony doesn't choose to discriminate against credit cards from one country buying games from another country's storefront.
@adam1808 @Warpld Actually, it does. That's why I am mentioning the gift cards I purchase from ebay.
Another thing that's pure shyte. Not localizing a game in my country because they THINK it wouldn't sale well. Do they even bother to find out, or, maybe, do a limited run of the game to see how it does before going full out with it's release? No! So, guess what, Ninty, more lost sales!
@starduke They have to weigh in the production cost for translating the game (which seems like that shouldn't even cost that much) versus the appeal in the region in order to make profit (since video games are no longer about entertainment*), which usually ends up with many Japanese games never seeing other countries.
*Sorry for the jaded comment, but it's just sad that some publishers keep certain games to one region. At money does make the world go around, so yea...
Yeah, region locking is pure shyte. I'd actually get more games, that aren't available in my country, if they weren't region locked. So, guess what, Ninty, you lost sales!
Wow, I never knew the initial reason for region locking. I gotta say it has been nothing but a pain for at least the last decade. Not to mention people who want to buy something that is NEVER coming to their region. I was kinda interested in some japanese ds games that never did get brought over, but gave up because of region locking. The loss in sales seems much bigger then any loss to someone who'd ship it across the world to save 5 bucks.
@RedLegZeff Japan is a weird outlier when it comes to DS region locking. The DS is completely open for games from other regions, just not Japan. It's doubly infuriating that the 3DS has no hardware-based region coding, it's all software. A patch could change this entire situation.
Money controls everything so I don't think Region Lock will stop anytime soon because of the power of money.
It would be nice if this would stop. It's easy enough to get around region locking in a lot of older systems such as the NES, SNES, PS2, and Saturn but it's always been annoying that they not only still region lock games (with the exception of Sony) but also region lock online shops, demos, DLC to certain regions.