Nintendo Considering the End of Region Locking

When the 3DS and Wii U were announced, I remember a great deal of discussion regarding region locking. While fans complained about region locking, Nintendo did not change its stance on the matter; things have changed. In a Q&A with investors last week, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata discussed how region free consoles could actually be beneficial to the company. Iwata had this to say:

“The game business has a history of taking a very long time with localisation 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. 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.”

It is interesting to note that the Nintendo DS was not region locked until the DSi line. As it stands right now, the Wii U is the only current generation console that is region locked. But Iwata says the company must consider a change:

“Unlocking would require various problems to be solved, so while I can’t say today whether or not we intend to unlock, we realise that it is one thing that we must consider looking to the future.”

Ultimately, having a region free platform isn’t really going to help Nintendo in terms of sales but I still strongly believe that the option to import games, and have them run on your console, should be available. While I couldn’t see myself importing a game, this is really about the gamers that want this option. And I am all for options.

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