Nintendo Thinking About Maybe, Possibly, Going Region-Free For the NX

Nintendo Thinking About Maybe, Possibly, Going Region-Free For the NX

satoru iwata looks at bananas

Nintendo's Satoru Iwata says the company is thinking internally about what has to be done to make the NX region free.

Region free gaming has historically been a point of contention with Nintendo, as while competitors Sony and Microsoft have long-shunned the archaic practice, the house that Mario built continues to cling to it. Pretty much any and all hope of Nintendo's current systems, the 3DS and the Wii U, going region free has been lost, but now is the time to look the the future: Nintendo's upcoming "NX" dedicated game system. In a Q and A session with investors, Nintendo top banana Satoru Iwata commented on the possibility of maybe, maybe, going region-free with the NX.

"There are a number of difficulties in removing the region locking on existing hardware, so there is little expectation of this becoming a reality any time soon," explained Iwata. "On the other hand, regarding the NX, there is strong support from our customers, and support from the market for the removal of region locks. While a decision still hasn't been made, we are looking at the problems involved in creating a region free platform and looking for solutions. This is the current situation we are in internally. We acknowledge your wishes for a region free platform, and I personally am positive about the future in this regard."

While it is a long shot from "the NX will be region free", Iwata does seem very positive about it happening. As for what steps need to be taken, I'm certain region-pricing policies need to be examined for the system to work.

Hopefully though, Nintendo will come to its senses and make the NX region free, so that gamers who enjoy importing games that only get released in Japan don't have to own two bloody systems to play them.

Source: Nintendo via reddit

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Here's a simple test, Nintendo, free of charge -

Is it portable? Can it be used anywhere in the world?

Then yes. Yes, it should be region-free.

"Satoru Iwata says the company is thinking internally about what has to be done to make the NX region free."

Umm... just don't put a freaking region lock on it? Being region free didn't kill either the PS3 or the 360 (the latter of which was mostly region free). If the concern is "Oh no! We won't be able to drastically increase prices in Australia or New Zealand anymore," then perhaps you shouldn't have done so to begin with.

Counter-question: Is that bundle of bananas region-free?

Other than that, maybe the NX would only go half-way with certain games being region-free and other not... because reasons, I guess...

None of those difficulties were hardware based though, because up until the browser exploit was patched, people had already figured out how to turn off region locking by a simple memory edit that takes a few seconds to run.

Always a good idea to get on with the times.

Wasn't the 3DS region locked on some piracy prevention excuse, but actually locked down so that people wouldn't import games from outside of Japan, because the yen became really strong around that time?

Also, I read elsewhere that the wording they used makes it seem like it's far closer to a no.

See, I don't get why they region-locked the handhelds. Because the older Nintendo handhelds were completely region free.

As for the home consoles, yes, all Nintendo consoles have been region-locked, but... Not really, it's not proper region locking. Even the Wii U isn't region-locked as such, it just maintains the archaic and completely pointless PAL/NTSC divide.
While in a modern console that is still blatantly artificial, (in older ones it had a technical basis, though not a particularly strong one given I personally ran NTSC games on a PAL super Nintendo using a very primitive converter that basically just converts the physical cartridge slot)

They probably aren't being honest about their reasons though.

I mean, the Japanese market probably has a lot to do with it.

You see this with Anime.

Part of the issue with the availability of Anime outside of japan actually turns out to be concern about undermining the Japanese market...
Because Anime is incredibly expensive there, and in fact often ends up being cheaper in western countries than in Japan.
So, the concern ends up being nothing to do with western audiences, but rather the fear that parallel imports into Japan of the western releases of Anime would undermine the Japanese domestic market...

What Nintendo is thinking could well be something similar, though of course, it's still absurdly frustrating...

The Nintendo DS was region-free, it released in 2004. In fact, all of Nintendo's handhelds were region-free, going all the way back to the Gameboy.

The first region-free platform Sony released was the PSP, which didn't see a release until 2005.

The first full region-free platform Microsoft released was the Xbox One in 2013.

Nintendo was the first to go region-free, the widespread piracy problem the DS had made them re-evaluate the region locking which they put back on their other platforms.

Microsoft haven't long-shunned shit, the 360 was region locked for the majority of it's lifetime and there is still a long list of games you cannot play between regions. Sony is the only one who could be considered to have long-shunned region-locking, and they started well after Nintendo.

Translation: the snail is finally crossing the finish line after the tortoise and hare, in other news the sky's blue.

I don't see it happening if the NX is a home based system or has a major componet meant to stay in one place. Nintendo's traditionalist hierarchy means any one single short-sighted executive worried about profits and piracy can vetoe the idea.

If the NX really is a fully portable system, maybe there is a slight chance that Nintendo will listen to the fans who have complained for the past 4 years about their portables not being truly portable to many international travelers. At the very least, they should only region lock areas known for rampant piracy and where video games prices are adjusted for the lower average income.

"There are a number of difficulties in removing the region locking on existing hardware, so there is little expectation of this becoming a reality any time soon," explained Iwata.

He makes it sound like it's something they can't change without recalling every system to be reflashed. As people have disabled it on both the 3DS and Wii U, it's obviously a software flag. You can start marking games that are region free and/or send out an update to legitimately disable the lockout check. The real thing stopping them is their own corporate policies (and some 3rd party publishers who are also scared). I hate it when companies twist the truth like this. At least come out and say, "we are still concerned with piracy/regional price dodging/ the boogie man and cannot lift the lockout currently."

CrystalShadow:

Part of the issue with the availability of Anime outside of japan actually turns out to be concern about undermining the Japanese market...
Because Anime is incredibly expensive there, and in fact often ends up being cheaper in western countries than in Japan.
So, the concern ends up being nothing to do with western audiences, but rather the fear that parallel imports into Japan of the western releases of Anime would undermine the Japanese domestic market...

The truly absurd thing is they never seem to think about the increased sales. Okay I don't want to overhype the foreign market for anime, but from some quick googling Japan's population is 127 million people. There are over half a billion people in North America alone, to say nothing of anywhere else internationally where people buy anime. Even if a smaller proportion of the population buy it than do in Japan that's still a pretty big market that is terribly under-served for new releases.

They don't seem to get the concept of taking a smaller slice of the pie but making that pie bigger, so to speak. Instead preferring to limit sales to Japan as much as possible but charging something like four times the price. And maybe possibly releasing internationally later at a big knock-down when japanese sales have slowed.

Going back on topic; I really hate region-locking on anything. Especially in these modern days of international releases. I'm actually really confused with Blu-Rays whether they're region locked or not because apparently there IS a region-locking system but apparently its hardly used. And for consoles its just simply a nightmare, we've been routinely ripped off here for years and god help the poor Australians who have it even worse. But no you can't get it from the US or wherever unless you've either broken the region locking (bye bye warranty) or straight up bought a console from the country in question. To say nothing of certain games that don't get released outside of their country of origin (I'm looking at you again here, Japan). Hell, even steam got in on this act when they started to put up regional pricing. :-\

CrystalShadow:
As for the home consoles, yes, all Nintendo consoles have been region-locked, but... Not really, it's not proper region locking. Even the Wii U isn't region-locked as such, it just maintains the archaic and completely pointless PAL/NTSC divide.

You do realize that you are just giving the puppy a different name here?

No Nintendo, don't think. Just simply do it. Simple as that. No thinking needed. Please?

Words are wind. This means nothing until they actually do it.

Though I think their priority should be real user accounts.

I really like Nintendo, but then need to just join the modern era when it comes to videogames. It literally only hurts them and imparts absolutely no advantages, ergo, other systems did a way with it a while ago. One day Nintendo won't be around anymore, and it will be there fault. Every gamer will have told them how survive, but they don't listen to their customers.

Splatoon's sales might be a determining factor, the game is treated as a budget title everywhere except NA. Maybe they're watching the import sales, or trying to see how regional prices affect sales/profits to see if region locking is worth keeping around.

I think they're checking on the community with this one by saying they're "thinking" about it.

Otherwise they'd outright say no, in fact there's a good chance they will anyway because fuck us, Nintendo is always right. :3

Region locking is why I don't have a Wii U. This archaic system is detrimental to the company and an insult to their consumers. As far as I'm concerned they can frak off until they fix it.

 

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