Skip to content

Iwata Addresses The Topic Of Region Locking

They’ve been a number of prominent campaigns on social media asking for Nintendo to remove region locking on its platforms, but nothing has come to light yet. Speaking to investors during the recent question and answer session, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata stated that he is aware of the particular issue and says that it’s something the company will think hard about for future hardware.

Q4: At present, your company’s hardware and games make use of region-locking, by which games purchased in one region cannot be played in another region. Are there any plans to unlock this restriction?

A4: Iwata: 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.

Thanks, Kyle

82 thoughts on “Iwata Addresses The Topic Of Region Locking”

      1. How does it take time? All they have to do is make minor changes in firmware to allow consoles to play any game. People have hacked consoles to make this possible in the past. Nintendo made the operating systems, so it shouldn’t be that difficult for them.

  1. Game Boy and DS were region-free, then they go back and make their new portable region locked. I understand what Iwata is saying, but that is just a shitty fact.

    1. sherlockwillfightbilbo

      He’s just saying they’re still “thinking hard” about it because he doesn’t want to make any promises to investors. Nintendo always waits until everything is sure-fire, and you can bet they’re going to milk the announcement. An investors meeting is not the place for Nintendo to announce the end to region-locking. Nintendo will do a press-event of some sort and make it look like it was their idea and they’re doing fans a huge service.

      You should expect their next system to be region-free. The New 3DS is still a part of the 3DS line of systems, so it will stay region-locked. If it was region-free, some people would get pissed off because their 3DS they bought at launch is still locked.

      1. I think the issue of removing region-lock might be of interest for investors as well though. Even though it’s true that they probably wouldn’t make a huge announcement at an investor meeting, the answer they gave isn’t satisfying either. Well, to me at least.
        And concerning the new 3DS, I don’t really agree with you on that. It’s an upgraded version of the 3DS, and it has advantages in other areas as well. People who don’t get pissed about the new 3DS getting exclusive games, wouldn’t have been pissed about removed region-lock either. People who would get pissed about it are probably pissed about all the other hardware improvements it got as well.
        Besides, the whole issue with Nintendo STILL implementing region-lock didn’t come up with the 3DS. Yes, they shouldn’t have region-locked the 3DS to begin with. They shouldn’t have region-locked the Wii even. The competition started with region-free systems 10 years ago and Nintendo is still thinking about it. They’re just, as it often happens, very late to the party, and there’s no excuse for it.

        1. I think they will do it like Sony and Apple where the region is tied to the account, but the shift takes times. Its all about legal tape to cut through and making they don’t make the situation worse for the customer when they switch accounts systems. Could be happening faster, but at least not a glitchy mess that erases the records of your games (this is more like a worst case outcome.)

          Nintendo’s either really far ahead or really far behind when it comes to stuff like this.

          1. Not sure how things works with Apple, but with the Playstation systems, you still have the option of physical copies. Relying on digital copies in an issue like that can be risky, definitely.
            And it’s also true that they need to make sure not to do anything wrong in in concern of the legality aspect. But as I’ve said in my comment below, I personally believe they had more than enough time to adress the whole region-lock issue and work on it.

        2. sherlockwillfightbilbo

          That’s a good point about the exclusive games and the region-locking.

          I just hope one day in the next three years Nintendo isn’t late to the party, and is instead the one hosting it.

    2. Thinking hard about how they can circumvent laws and licensing without getting into legal trouble to the point it becomes finically detrimental to the company.

      1. I personally believe they had more than enough time to think about those things, considering the competition has been offering region-free systems for years already.

        1. I have an Xbox 360, and that doesn’t let you play Japanese games. Both the Ps3 you need to reset the accounts region. Apple is only done through the online shop which based on the region, same with android.

          I have heard the Xbox one and Ps4 is looser with region ie they only lock DLC.

          1. Hm, pretty sure any PS3 allows you to play any game from any region, with only like 2 or 3 exceptions maybe in which the developers of the games chose to region-lock the software. You don’t need a, let’s say, Japanese account to play Japanese games, you can play them with a US account as well. Same goes for the PSP, PS Vita and PS4.
            The only case you’d actually need a Japanese (or any other region of your choice) account to play Japanese (or any other region of your choice) games would be if you wanted a digital copy of a game from that region. On PS3, you, again, wouldn’t need to reset the region of your main account though, just link a Japanese account to the system, download the game from the Japanese PS store, and any other account on the system will have access to it as well, regardless of the region they belong to. Not sure if they kept it the same way on PS4, but I know for sure that digital copies from other regions are problematic on the Vita, doesn’t work without resetting. But yea, as long as you stick to physical copies, everything is gonna be perfectly fine.
            I wouldn’t know about the Xbox though, as I’ve never owned one myself. I know it’s region-locked though, so I believe you when you say it doesn’t let you play Japanese games.

                  1. Well, why would I buy one if I got one as a birthday present from close friends ? d: They knew I was still on the fence about it, so they wanted to make things easier for me and surprised me. Still super grateful for it.
                    Also, they’ve been wanting me to get one for a long while now, especially to play SSB together once it’s out. So yea, win-win situation for everyone. (:

          2. Oh, and about the DLCs, I think they’ve always been region-locked. But you can still get them, on Playstation platforms at least. If you want the DLC for a Japanese game, you would need a Japanese PSN account to access the right store and just download it there. Should work fine, as long as you own the Japanese version of the game the DLC belongs to. Like, Japanese DLC for, I don’t know, LBP wouldn’t work on the US version of the game and vice versa.

  2. “we realize that it is one thing that we must consider looking to the future.”

    Yeah right Iwata. Your saying that, but obviously your gonna let Region Lock be a thing on Nintendo platforms permanently. I highly doubt Iwata will remove the Region Locking on the 3DS (NEW 3DS) and higher models of the 3DS along with the Wii U.

  3. why are you guys si angry about region locking? Is there a game you really need to play so badly it cant wait for it’s localization? and olease don’t say moral stuff and just wait for smealum’s homebrew app.

    1. I would say its more like the fact that NOT all games for Nintendo platforms gets released outside of Japan. Some examples for be the High School DxD, Hatsune Miku Project Mirai 1 and 2 for 3DS. The point is that fans of Nintendo would have to purchase another 3DS just to play it. Apply money to obtaining 2 3DS’s from whatever country or 3 3DS’s like Europe. Some Europeans purchased 3 3DS (1 American, 1 European, and 1 Japanese) because 1. Games come to America but not Europe. 2. The games don’t get localized at all, so they have to buy a Japanese 3DS just to play 1+ games.

      Why does Nintendo need to bother with Region Locking?
      Shouldn’t Region Locking be a thing of the past not the present?

      Nintendo’s competitors no longer use Region Locking (Microsoft and SONY)

      Heck, I may own a Japanese 3DS but Region Locking still gets under my skin.

      1. I agree with you. I will buy soon a us 2DS only to play Mighty Gunvolt and some other games, that never came to the EU because of the region lock. Many indie devs are not able to localize their games in each country and therefore, most games come later or never. Therefore, I have to buy an US 2DS and perhaps a japanese 3DS as well (maybe even a New 3DS model). But yeah, it is frustrating.

    2. I don’t mind it really bud it would be nice if you could play games that only come out in japan.

      another good thing would be that europeans could import american games what actually saves alot of money

    3. I think the problem is, that many good games (Namco x Capcom for example) are not localized around the world. This is a pain for gamers, who love to play those games, but can’t due to the region lock. Take me for example, I would love to play the first Fire Emblem for the NES or Mother 1, but they never made it to EU. This is the problem of the whole “region lock” fiasco.

        1. Pff… I neither used nor will use an emulator, because it is not the real deal unlike you would play it. Besides, I don’t support theft. I buy my games, thank you very much. No, I think I will get a japanese Famicom someday when I have enough money.

          1. if you manage to find a working famicom where the spring load still working and the cartridges which comes with it then good luck. Also you can get the all things (console + 10 or 20 cartridges) for $30/£15/18€. if you pay more than that you are being rip off.

            By the way I don’t agree with the emulator is not the real deal, I had both the Famicom and the emulator and I don’t see no difference. I guessing you would not buy any digital NES game on Eshop.

    4. Nintendo Second-Lieutenant Haruhi

      Mostly Japan-only games. Like Fatal Frame 5 for Wii U. Pretty sure they aren’t gonna localize that game. They haven’t localized a true fatal frame game for well over a decade in the US.

      1. Same here in EU and I hoped to play the one for the WII U. Imagine only to use the gamepad as camera. This would be so awesome!

    5. Some games are never localized though. And smealum is taking too long (it’s been months since hearing from him at all) and may never even release his app if he can’t figure out how to prevent people from using it to play pirated games.

    6. *looks at Microsoft and Sony* <– That's the problem, along with the sad fact that the GameBoy and DS were region free. Surely it ain't THAT HARD to flip the switch on something you previously had.

      Now, if Microsoft and Sony region locked their consoles, though it would still be a problem, it wouldn't be that much of a problem.

  4. On the one hand, I can understand Iwata. If a costumer buys the game from Japan (for example) and the game is also in EU and NA but censored due to the rules in each country, then to publishers won’t get any money. However, region locks also forbid us to go to a different country and buy a game if we like to do so, after all, we are adult customers… more or less… and we have to freedom to do so. So yeah, it is kind of a hard decision to handle for Nintendo and yes, I’m aware that the PS3 and 4 are region free. However, Sony made it so that the developers can region lock the games. It would be an idea, but then there would be the problem with the local publishers. I think this is the biggest problem to solve, after all, Nintendo has enough problems with third party developers at the moment.

    For me, the Sony model would be the best one; a region free console, but with the catch that the developers can lock the games themselves.

  5. Region locking has no effect on the games I purchase but it should be removed. A lot of games never get localized.

  6. I don’t get why they either can’t just release software at the same time or to unlock it. Pokemon launched globally, they should have their stuff together for other games like Smash, Mariokart and others. Hardware should also launch globally too.

    There’s no games I would import, but would like a global date.

    1. The problem with a global launch are the rules in each country (J, NA, EU). We different kind of tv sets (pal and ntsc) as like voltage usage. I can only see a global launch, if the company is manufacturing the consoles at the same time to have enough consoles for the start.

      But the region lock problem is a bigger one. Like the consoles, you have to follow the rules of the country for the software as well (what can you show, what is legal etc) as like the local publishers. The thing is, if you import the games somewhere else, those local publishers earn no money with the games they release inland. I think, the best solution is what Sony did with a region free console and the devs to decide if the game gets a lock or not.

    2. I know i want to play the Gundam 3d battle for the 3ds which i actually saw a pre-order for in my local shop but when i went to get it they said the game was taken of the shelves and i was pissed. If Iwata wants to get more money they should stop milking Mario titles and localize games at the same time like with pokemon that way everybody is happy

  7. lord ghost : king of the federation

    after my 3ds being broken since the middle of this month, i longer give a crap about portable gaming consoles. am just not good at maintaining them. i went from ds(2005) to another ds than ds lite to dsi xl to 3ds than to another another 3ds. i’ll stick with my wii, wii u, 360 and pc for now on. handhelds just damage so easily for me.

    1. Yeah you don’t take care of your stuff do you. I still have my GBC in perfect condition, no scratches and it still has a perfectly good battery cover. (Those were infamous for breaking) I was 10 when I first got it.

  8. People who are mad dont understand how the world works. Not that I agree how it works but I do understand it. Simply put each country a game comes out in has its own set of rules for the way things get sold. So either educate yourself to what is region lock and why did it come to be or just shut up

    1. Obviously you yourself don’t know shit about region locking. Enjoy being fed bullshit by the way because you seem to “understand it”

    2. How about you educate yourself on why Microsoft and Sony don’t region-lock? Educate yourself ON WHY YOUR BELOVED NINTENDO’S OWN DS AND GAMEBOY LINES WEREN’T REGION-LOCKED? (It’s like everyone forgets that sad little fact!)

      Nintendo just keeps peddling crappy lame excuses and people like you continue to blindly follow and agree with them.

  9. Be glad that he actually acknowledged it. Iwata has been known to dodge things he doesn’t want to talk about. You should take hope from the fact he even mentioned it, because I certainly have more hope than I did 5 minutes ago.

  10. Yeah, I get it. I mean, does Nintendo spend countless pennies and time translating a game for the West from Japanese and, most of the time, even adding in Westernized words, phrases and ideas that only exist over here to make it comical or current with the times?

    If Japanese games are released earlier (say Smash Bros, for example) and their version of the game is compatible with American devices. Don’t you think tons of people are going to go out and buy the Japanese version to be able to play it as soon as possible? This will then make Western localization not as important, because they will make far less money off of the localized product than the native product.

    So that would mean Nintendo would either have to stop localizing games (and enable their devices region free) to maximize their profit compared to costs OR release all games for each region AT THE SAME TIME, which we all know is it at all that easy and takes some serious man-power.

  11. I have no problem with Region Locking. There has NEVER been a game where I’m like huh….that’s only in Japan huh? Well darn I really wanted to import it and play it…. Seriously I don’t speak Japanese so why on earth would I spend the extra money to get a game IN JAPANESE sent ALL THE WAY TO ME? I wouldn’t even understand what the story is or whats going on in the game or what buttons do what. I like Region Locking, to me, it keeps the crap I have no interest in, off the shelves over here.

    1. Yeah because everyone in the West is just like you and don’t speak, write, or read Japanese, great logic there fucktard.

    2. ITP: Americans who read and write Japanese don’t exist.
      ITP: You need to know Japanese to play Smash Bros and Mario Kart.

      Fuck off, Nintendrone!

  12. When you humans stop comparing our empire to the other two lesser lifeforms then you’ll understand…

    High Command has said time and time again that they not compete with them, it’s the stupid retarded western media and primitive society that forces these thoughts into your primitive cerebros…

    1. Yeah, but you need to understand that the US is a big place for their sales. If they don’t listen, they’re gonna lose a lot of money.

  13. There are only 2 reasons region locking pisses me off. 1. japan gets better special edition consoles then we do (ex. Red gundam char gamecube or windwaker bundle) . 2 there are games that are released over there on a nintendo console but here there playstation of xbone exclusives. Example tales of graces

  14. But then again if Most americans would stop being so offended by everything and pull there heads out of C.O.D and GTAs but long enough to play a game that takes some thaught or time. Then mayebe we would get more games localized

  15. look region lock is for nintendo or the publisher benefit only. I can openly say that I hacked all my nintendo consoles up to the wii U. why? it never been for the difference of price, but about game I could not play in my region or a game which has been censured for stupid reason. I go often to Asia and when I can I buy a game I can’t play in my region. If we look at Sony and Microsoft I never hear a publisher losing sale cause they saw a massive order from another territory than their. Nintendo should remove the region lock edit the game and abide to the law of the territory but leave the choice to the consumer to buy the version their want.

  16. i’d prefer there be no region locking at all but region locking should be taken away from U.S and europe because we both speak english

  17. Pingback: Nintendo Might be Getting Rid of Region Locking – Nintendo 3DS Daily

  18. Pingback: ¿Se eliminará el bloqueo de región de Nintendo? - TierraGamer

  19. The benefit to them would be that niche titles wouldn’t always have to be localized. Even modestly zealous fans would jump at the chance to purchase Japan-only Nintendo titles, many of which are already subbed in English. More potential customers without the added cost of localization.

  20. I’m surprised that Iwata is even acting like there’s a possibility for region unlocking. What would REALLY be awesome is if the major consoles (such as Wii U) would become region free. Although there’s not usually any games in other regions that I really care much about.

    I have the PAL DS game, Freshly Picked: Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland (stupid title), and it was surprisingly fun. Super weird at times, but fun. I recommend this game to anyone who likes anything even remotely related to the Zelda series. I was really looking forward to it’s sequel (Ripened, Tingle’s Balloon Trip Of Love. Another stupid title). But unfortunately, it was never localized in english. So I’ll never know how much love this wannabe fairy got.

    1. I tried Rupeeland on an emulator, only because it is extremely difficult to find that game in my country.
      I HATED it, it was horrible, the fighting was pointless, the rupee gathering was stupid, it gave you no help nor direction, one of the worst “Zelda” games out there

      1. I take it you didn’t play it for very long, did you?
        If I could like it, ANYONE could like it. I’m a very hard person to please when it comes to games. And it took a while, but this game really grew on me. Once I understood the concept, and how the bodyguard system worked. Though there was many times when I had to look at other YouTube videos before I knew what to do.

        1. Or maybe he did play it and really simply hated it. Unlike some people that only watch videos and hate the game based on that. ;) Jk.

          1. I know you wrote “Jk”. But is it really that hard to believe that a person can dislike a game just by watching a video of it?

            1. Not necessarily. It’s just that for Fire Emblem, you said it made you hate the entire series. That’s like saying I saw a TV commercial and didn’t like it so now I hate all TV’s.

              1. But in this case, I meant that if all Fire Emblem games was done the same way as Awakening is, then I know I’d hate the entire series. But whatever…

                1. However, I will admit to having a history of judging a game harshly just from a quick glance. In all honesty, I don’t even know what kind of games I like anymore? I’m in a rut.

  21. Y’know what Nintendo should do that would not only appease fans of games released only outside the US, but also net them billions elsewhere?

    Release Japanese games on the VC, RPGs specifically, alongside a set of software that teaches you to read and maybe even speak Japanese while playing a video game.

    And all that shit about region locking being something difficult to reverse? Bullshit. It’s literally a software update, someone’s already done it to their 3DS.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: