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Region-Locking May Pull a Vanishing Act on Nintendo Consoles

Nintendo considering pulling their policy to region lock game systems in the future.

Nintendo president and CEO Satoru Iwata indicated that Nintendo is reconsidering their infamous policy of region locking their consoles during the Q&A session following Nintendo of Japan's investor briefing last week. Cheesemeister from NeoGAF's forums was kind enough to translate what had transpired after Iwata was directly questioned about region locking their systems:

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.

Historically, Nintendo has always region locked their home consoles and--with the exception of the original Gameboy and DS--portable devices as well. Region lock restricts importing a game for Nintendo consoles from another country by only allowing consoles to play games if both were bought in the same region. While this normally isn't a problem, if someone wanted a game that would never come out in their region--or even just to own a foreign country's version of the game--they would have to buy a new Nintendo system from that region to accompany the game that they are intending to buy.

The latest advances in game development has allowed many large companies to release games on identical or similar dates globally. Take Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, which were released on October 12, 2013 world-wide. Despite this, there are still many reasons why people would desire to import games from other regions and it is nice to see Nintendo considering removing their region lock from their consoles. Whether or not they will actually follow through remains to be seen.

What do you think will happen? Will Nintendo release their region lock on their systems, and if so, would you take advantage of this? Let us know in the comment section below!

Published Nov. 3rd 2014

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